Top 10 email marketing predictions for 2017

With the ever-increasing expansion of digital, email marketing remains an innovative, strong strategy for communications. However, it is set for great changes and 2017 is the year for this to happen.

Here are our predictions for the year to come…

1. Importance of being mobile responsive will continue to grow

It’s no longer possible to ignore the power held in the marketplace by smartphones and tablets. According to eMailmonday, depending on your target audience, email type and product, mobile email can account for between 15% to 70% of email opens. The younger the demographic, the higher the chance they’re looking on their phone.

In 2016, Adestra found that 40% of those aged 14-18 will always use their mobile to read emails first before looking on their desktop and this number is at 29% for those aged 19-34. Meanwhile, Litmus Email Analytics, again from a 2016 study, claim that more emails are being read on mobile devices now than on desktop email clients – and according to Litmus, 55% of emails are now opened on a mobile device.

While the exact statistics fluctuate according to the researcher and there is much variance depending on the target audience and their behaviours, there is no doubt that mobile plays a key role in how people are reading their emails. Ensuring your messages are mobile responsive and designed with mobile in mind will be important. They need to be easy to read and clear to understand.

2. Communications will become more personalised

We’ve seen email marketing start to enter into the world of personalised messaging; from adding the customer name into the subject line to grouping email mail-outs according to age group, gender, location, personalisation ensures communications match with people’s wants and needs.

However, with the prevalence of ‘big data’ and an increase in the way website and e-mail marketing are being tracked and understood, expect messages to become more personalised, relevant and user-focused. This will require finding more data points in order to drive this tailored content, so attitudes to email must change.

3. Make way for Artificial Intelligence

During 2016 we saw Artificial Intelligence (AI) become a more dominant feature in the home thanks to Alexa (Amazon). We already have Siri (Apple) helping us through our day and this ever- expanding software is showing no signs of slowing. In fact, according to Fool.com, voice assistant/recognition software is the number one AI app on the market.

Additionally, researcher Gartner predicts that by 2020, AI bots will be powering 85% of customer service interactions and by 2018, digital assistants will “know” you. On top of these predictions, they also claim that in 2018, 20% of business content (i.e. market reports, press releases, articles, etc) will be written by AI-powered software.

With all this taken into account, it is easy to see why making your emails either use artificial
intelligence themselves or become ready to be read by AI is so crucial. Moving forwards, it may be the eyes of an AI assistant that you are appealing to and not a human.

4. It’s the day of the video

Given how all-singing, all-dancing some email platforms can be, it has always seemed unusual how complicated and near-impossible it is to add video content into email. Many have temporarily navigated this problem by adding GIFS, but 2017 is seeing video making its way into email marketing as the up-and-coming functionality.

This is largely being driven by changes to iOS 10 Mail, which supports HTML5 video. This allows for such media content to play within an email. According to Chad White, by the end of the year, at least 30% of marketers are expected to have tried embedding video in email.

5. Account-based marketing will remain important

It’s not a new strategy, but given the drive towards making email marketing a more personal experience, this method will remain in popular use. ABM is essentially about concentrating sales and marketing resources towards a very clearly defined group of target accounts within a market and then sending out personal campaigns that are designed to specifically resonate with each account.

The message of each campaign is based on the exact attributes and needs of the target account. According to the Altera Group, 97% of respondents claimed ABM had either a somewhat higher or a much higher return on investment than any other marketing initiatives.

6. The length of emails will get shorter

Now that mobile devices are becoming the go-to space for reading email, people’s attention spans are decreasing. They don’t want to scroll through reams of content. To a certain extent, the same applies to desktop emails too, as time becomes ever more precious. Cutting down will be crucial. It is thought that an email with approximately 50 to 125 words would have the optimal effect.

7. Think about the tone

With the rise of Artificial Intelligence, there is a shift in the way people are writing for websites and emails. Because people are asking their devices to answer questions, which have a more conversational flow to them, content is likewise heading in this direction.

In the past, it worked on the basis of keywords and phrases that made up Google search terms… but now it is becoming more casual. Not only is this shift occurring on a technical level, but many businesses are now employing it in an effort to build a stronger relationship with their customers and create a more honest, real connection.

8. Emails will become more interactive

Users are becoming increasingly more demanding in terms of their expectations for digital – it is becoming a realm with unlimited possibilities and unless something is singing and dancing in front of them, the chances of it getting their attention is slim.

Technical challenges aside, whether you add offer reveals or instant add-to-cart functionality, carousel images or sliders – interactive e-mails will undoubtedly improve user engagement and retention. It will also improve the response rate from people clicking through to your site.

9. Expect to see more automated emails

We’re familiar with the concept of automated and triggered emails. We get them when we leave a shopping basket without paying or don’t visit a site in a while. Sometimes we get them for signing up initially or because we’ve purchased a certain item. Often these emails have offers and incentives to drive you back.

They can feel personal because they seem to respond to your online behaviour and they are also responsible for generating a large amount of marketing revenue. Given the pull they can have on users, brands are cashing in on this opportunity to engage further with subscribers.

10. All channels will unite

For larger businesses, in particular, there can be discrepancies that appear when different teams are working on each area of a brand’s digital presence and communications – for example, online, social media, public relations, marketing and so on. Customers expect messages to remain consistent though and don’t differentiate between the channels.

As such, teams need to start working closer together to ensure all output matches more cohesively. If the messages in the email marketing parallel up with the social media agenda and both offer a united feel with the tone of the website, then consumers will feel much more aligned with a brand and communications will feel less haphazard.

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