What’s on the horizon for email marketers this year? Columnist Scott Heimes shares his predictions on the email marketing trends that will take shape in 2018.
The new year is here, which means many brands are looking for new ways to spice up their marketing strategy. That means considering changes to everyone’s favorite channel, email.
Email was still brands’ preferred medium to communicate with customers in 2017 and will continue to be so well into the future. Still, 2018 may hold some surprises for the 40-year-old communications standard that marketers should be aware of.
Sit back, relax and ring in the new year with a few new — and old — email trends that can make your marketing strategy stand out.
1. Personalization through lists
Personalization is nothing new, but it’s poised to go into overdrive in 2018. No, we’re not talking about customizing subject lines — that’s no longer enough. What we’re talking about is list segmentation.
List segmentation has been around for a while, but it can up your personalization game by placing your users into lists based on user demographics, interests and other rich data available to you and your brand. This can make it easier for your organization to send information to recipients that’s relevant to their interests, increasing the chances that your message will be opened.
Keep an eye out for list segmentation in 2018, especially as standards evolve and organizations become more familiar with the methodology.
2. Email interactivity
Marketers in 2018 should look for opportunities to make their emails interactive. Interactivity can help in a variety of ways. Users can quickly place orders, marketers can gather better data, it can help shorten the purchase pipeline, and so on.
Looking ahead, these emails should enable recipients to customize orders, add items to a shopping cart and have an overall better experience — all without leaving the original email message. Better yet, bringing that data from the email to the website can enhance a user’s overall experience — especially as new technologies, like chatbots, increase the level of overall interactivity.
Chatbots have been around for some time, but in 2017, we started to see the digital agents gain traction. In 2018, that traction is set to accelerate, enabling high-quality, unobtrusive conversations between companies and recipients.
Done right, chatbots can provide great value to both your business and users. As a marketer, you’ll be able to use specific data from your users to create a richer experience, and as a user, you have a seemingly personal agent at the tips of your fingers.
The technology is set to grow over 2018, but be careful: It’s easy to annoy your customers if chatbots aren’t done right.
2017 was the year of talking about artificial intelligence (AI). And 2018 will likely be the year when marketers see it in action. There’s good reason to celebrate this development: The technology can help measure and understand countless metrics on how users interact with content, often in ways marketers would never understand on their own.
There are, however, a few quibbles to consider: Most small businesses won’t be able to afford the technical infrastructure on their own, meaning they’ll need to invest in an as-a-service model to execute on AI. However, that investment will pay off through the ability to rapidly personalize.
Content, for example, can be customized for different segments of your user groups. With AI, brands can cut down on the cost and time needed to identify segments and opportunities — allowing them to craft better, more relevant content for their subscribers.
As mentioned, interactivity within email will pick up during 2018. This means marketers need to deploy new assets and techniques in their messages. In 2018, we’ll likely see more GIFs, HTML5 and video included in email messages to keep recipients engaged.
But GIFs aren’t all — major changes to email services like Gmail and updates on how ISPs (internet service providers) render emails will enable email marketers and designers to be more creative with the messages they send. Moving forward, expect to see more visual and interactive emails from large consumer brands.
Did you know…
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) kicks in on May 25, 2018. If your business regularly interacts with European Union citizens, the law will affect you.
The GDPR is intended to strengthen data protection and privacy rules in favor of recipients in the EU. While this isn’t necessarily a trend to look for in the new year, I suggest brushing up on the law to understand how and if your organization will be affected.
2017 set the stage for new technologies. 2018 will be the year where we see them acting, in full, for email marketing. We will continue to see AI advance and help brands provide users with more personalized experiences. And this will also get better as brands continue thinking about segmenting their email lists.
All in all, 2018 will be the year of intense focus on personalization. Organizations will learn to connect with recipients on a personal level and engage in better conversations. And that’s good news for everyone.
Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.