9 prevailing email marketing trends

Artificial intelligence, microsites, clean data and video are all the rage.

Are you gearing up for sustained inbox mastery, or is your marketing doomed for deletion?

Here are the dominant and emerging trends that will define how we use email in coming years:

1. Artificial intelligence

According to research firm Tractica, the revenue generated from the application of AI software will grow from $1.4 billion in 2016 to $59.8 billion by 2025. With 80 percent of industries now investing in AI and making it a competitive priority, how can you put it to use in your favorite email tools? Consider these factors:

  • Picking the right time. You can make an educated guess as to optimal times for sending emails, but machine learning can minimize guesswork.
  • Copywriting assistance. There are many AI tools that will check your content and predict your recipient’s reaction. This is not an exact science, but the insight provided by these tools can be valuable:

Coschedule evaluates your articles headlines for free.

Phrasee is a paid tool that delves into the science behind email subject lines.

Hemingway analyzes your copy for free and gives you pointers on how to improve it.

  • Personalization. Amazon generates 35 percent of its revenue based on personalized recommendations. The company tracks your visits, extracts personal info and emails you based on the products you checked.

Segmenting by age, job or localization enables you to automatically adapt the content you send as soon as new products are live on your website.

2. Chatbots

According to Hubspot, 47 percent of consumers would buy items from a chatbot. That’s great, but what does that have to do with email marketing?

For starters, 60 percent of people provide fake information online. Most people won’t hesitate to provide a bogus email address or phone number to download your latest white paper.

A good way to avoid this issue is to immediately introduce website visitors to a Facebook Messenger chatbot, which can converse with them to set up their email preferences based on accurate data. This will help you build a viable list and offer subscribers relevant content.

Check out these tutorials on how to embed Messenger on your website:

3. Legal changes

On May 25, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) directive is scheduled to become official throughout Europe. These new rules will affect how marketers seek, obtain and save consumers’ consent. The guidelines will affect every company that uses personal data from EU citizens—regardless of where the company’s based.

Obtaining consent

GDPR states that marketers will be allowed to send email to only those people who’ve opted in to receive messages. That’s already the case in most EU countries, but the nature of consent gets a specific frame:

Consent should be given by a clear affirmative act establishing a freely given, specific, informed and unambiguous indication of the data subject’s agreement to the processing of personal data relating to him or her, such as by a written statement, including by electronic means, or an oral statement. This could include ticking a box when visiting an internet website, choosing technical settings for information society services or another statement or conduct which clearly indicates in this context the data subject’s acceptance of the proposed processing of his or her personal data. Silence, pre-ticked boxes or inactivity should not therefore constitute consent. The recipient must also be informed of how their data will be used.

Consent record keeping

The burden of proving consent is the responsibility of the company. Record keeping will become essential, as the GDPR applies to data collected before as well as after its enforcement. Marketers must ensure that previously collected data comply with the new directive.

4. Data validity

Have you ever emailed to a list that hasn’t been used for a few months?

Recently, I emailed to a list from a previous business venture with fresh content. Of the 301 contacts I emailed, 5 percent of the addresses didn’t exist anymore. That was a rude reminder of how often people are changing jobs these days.

Radius ran an experiment to prove this point. The company tracked 10,000 contacts over four months in 2016. When the experiment ended, 7.57 percent of the email addresses had become invalid.

Outdated data render your strategy useless, but sending emails to dead addresses can also affect your deliverability. When your bounce rate rises above 10 percent, you’re likely to end up on blacklists. That can be a death sentence for your email marketing efforts.

5. Video

According to Hubspot, 43 percent of consumers would like to see more video content from marketers.

If you do use video in email, remember these tips:

  • Shoot high-quality videos. Don’t skimp on sound or editing.
  • Keep it short. Shorter videos tend to perform better, especially if embedded in an email. Videos should get recipients to perform an action.
  • Test, then invest. A lousy video can be a huge waste of money, but it can also damage your reputation. To prevent any disasters, send the video out to a handful of people who didn’t work on it. Solicit honest feedback from a wide range of people.

6. Microsites

Interactive emails enable recipients to browse a mini-site embedded in the body of the email. Microsites within emails can even share live content, such as countdowns or local weather forecasts.

7. Transactional emails

Hubspot explains their function:

One-to-one emails … contain information that completes a transaction or process the recipient has started with you. A common example is in ecommerce, after purchasing an item you receive an email receipt that has information about the item, price, and shipment. Transactional email is sent to individuals rather than a large list of recipients.

Transactional emails get opened twice as much as regular marketing emails, and 43 percent of them get clicked on after being opened.

Here are three tips to exploit the potential of transactional emails:

  • Use a confirmation email to suggest similar or complementary products your recipient might be interested in purchasing.
  • Show social media buttons customers can click to follow you on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
  • Offer visitors a coupon or something free in exchange for referring a friend.

8. Gamification

Who doesn’t like fun and games?

By including an element of gamification in your marketing emails, you encourage people to engage with your company in a memorable way. Feel free to include quizzes, or ask recipients to share content in exchange for coupons.

9. Omnichannel approach

Email does not (or should not) exist in a marketing vacuum. Your email efforts should complement, enhance and harmonize with your social media, events and other communication initiatives. The more cross-departmental collaboration, the better.

It’s impossible to predict what lies ahead in 2018, but you’ll never go wrong by providing substantive, meaningful value for your audience. That never goes out of style

A version of this post first appeared on Movable Ink.


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