The past, as they say, is prelude.
So, based on what transpired in 2019, here are four significant email marketing trends that will bear watching in 2020:
Compliance. With the California Consumer Privacy Act now in full effect—and several more states eyeing similar legislation—marketers must be careful to avoid serious penalties. In general, that means limiting data transfers, securing data, providing access to consumers and allowing people to easily unsubscribe from any unwanted messages. This is only the beginning, however.
It’s possible that a federal bill could supersede state laws in ways favorable to businesses, but that’s wishful thinking. Privacy is a largely bipartisan issue, and a national law would probably err on the side of tightening consumer privacy laws—not that Congress is rushing to take this up.
Consolidation. There are fewer email vendors, and that list will grow even smaller in 2020. The two biggest acquisitions in 2019 were that of SendGrid by Twilio and Return Path by Validity. They weren’t the only ones. Just a few weeks ago, Terminus bought Sigstr.
Granted, these firms were acquiring new capabilities, not buying out competitors. Who’s next? The attractive targets are in towns like Providence, Duluth and Kansas City—not New York or San Jose. The danger is that they may lose some of their cachet, and that the fighting spirit you see in startups will be lost as people are weighed down by new corporate rules and red tape.
Still, it’s better than venture capital folks swooping in and cleaning house.
Now, let’s move on to more sanguine developments.
Interactivity. Wiseguys used to joke that email hasn’t changed in 20 years. Well, who’s laughing now? Google rolled out AMP (accelerated mobile pages) for email in 2019, and it’s starting to attract big players such as Adobe Campaign. Braze has added it, too.
AMP is an open-source framework designed to make mobile pages load faster, and it is now supported by Gmail, Outbook and other email clients.
Think of what this means in terms of loading videos and other forms of rich content. How might you use fast-loading imagery in 2020?
Expect to see more vendors signing on for AMP in 2020, even if most email marketers haven’t latched onto it yet.
BIMI. BIMI (Brand Indicators for Message Identification) is a security standard that allows companies to display their logos in email subject lines.
This addresses the larger issue of security and the use of email to deliver malware, but it can also be an effective brand-building tool.
Data from Yahoo indicates that showing a logo increases open rates by around 10%. In 2020, expect to see more big names going public with their support of BIMI. Google will be running a pilot, and CNN will probably do the same.
There will an extra layer of protection if the AuthIndicators Working Group, the group developing BIMI, requires a Verified Mark Certificate—proof that you own the logo you’re displaying.
It may take a while before consumers (and competitors) grasp the idea, but it never hurts to get ahead of the game.
A version of this article first appeared on MediaPost.