Throughout the years, email marketing has evolved into the realm of data-driven, cross-channel automation to add value to the lives of customers.
This article originally appeared in ClickZ on August 18, 2015.
Email marketing certainly has had a colorful past. If we look back at email’s historical timeline, we have its invention back in 1971, its naming as e-mail or email in 1993, and its gradual emergence in the automated, data-driven marketing space. Over time, email became the tried and true channel for personalized, digital marketing. A few years back, many thought email was gasping its last breath. However, it survived with increased data accessibility and channel integration. All the while, email has been chugging along, driving significant revenue for businesses across every sector.
Today, we see email emerging as a pivotal piece of the marketing mix. The future holds new opportunities for email marketing as an essential “glue” for communications across the customer lifecycle, including new cross-channel experiences. The recent infusion of technological innovation provides email marketing experts an even stronger foray into the realm of data-driven, cross-channel automation. Since email marketers have had their hands in the data pie for some time now, they are well equipped to put it to good use through automated, personalized communications and to integrate new channels. Email marketing is an agile, revenue driver with tremendous potential.
As email marketers look to the future and wonder what their jobs may entail, here are four key drivers for the next generation of email marketing and cross-channel communications.
1. Email Marketing Works
Email consistently drives engagement and revenue. So much so that marketers are often addicted to it and hesitant to ease up on the cadence. Thus, automated testing should focus on the optimal consumer experience that drives action and conversion, and aligns with consumer circumstances. Testing classic email elements, and cross-channel path optimization is where we are heading. Maintaining the status of email as the marketing workhorse, while evolving to a more sophisticated, contextual, cross-channel approach, gives email marketers a chance to innovate like never before.
2. Time is Speeding Up
Email needs to continue becoming more agile, as mobile interaction is accelerating the pace and volume of email and all digital channels. Most website actions, commerce transactions, social engagements and other activities across online and real world settings have a corresponding email touch point. Transactional emails are an integral part of the customer journey with great opportunities to lead the recipient down a path to their next action point. Email is the hub of ongoing engagement with consumers, enticing them to take action—log into an account, make a purchase, etc. Email automation is fundamental to the fast moving future of personalized and contextual messaging.
3. Location Matters
With email and all marketing channels, location is becoming the crucial element of messaging strategies. Email marketers have long put zip codes to good use as a data point, but today’s consumers are expecting more precision as they traverse through their daily duties. To pave the way for location-centric communications, email is instrumental. Driving new subscribers to download mobile apps, opt-in to mobile notifications, and share data across their customer journey, enables marketers to create a more personalized experience. Harnessing location data via email open data or mobile detection, opens up a wide range of geo-based messaging. Applying the tried and true principals of email testing and automation, marketers will begin to understand what level of location specificity drives action, conversion or even inaction and defection, to continue to evolve the customer journey across time and space.
4. Data Drives Experience
Data drives experiences in the inbox and beyond. Email can, and should, be viewed as a two-way dialogue with consumers with each click registering an attribute that may be acted upon later. The realm of data is vast with profiles, surveys, behavior, social interactions, and more, representing opportunities to build a deeper consumer connection. Actionable data fuels relevant and contextual consumer interactions and results. Data will fuel the future of email and communication strategies that deliver consumers value, leading to response and revenue.
Today, email teams have to manage more moving parts than ever before, and the vision for the future is more intriguing than ever. With innovations and consumer experiences moving quickly, email marketers can focus on opportunities to craft new customer experiences across channels and deliver results. Yes, email marketers—the best is yet to be!
Check out these email marketing resources to learn more about the future of email.