At the risk of sounding like Mystic Meg, we looked into our crystal ball and found some surprising and some not so surprising email marketing predictions for 2016. Capturing data, automated emails, wearable technology… Marketers need to know what’s coming to make plans for these developments or face being left behind the drag curve. Are you prepared for what’s ahead?

1. Automation gets bigger and better

From autofill to automation, we’re predicting even bigger and better things for automated emails in 2016. We’ve recently seen improvements in workflow queue management, individual automation and send time configuration but there will also be new developments that assist with our list management, automatic group configurations, wait-time conditionals and improvements in RSS campaign sends. Exciting stuff!

2. Social media takes over

Social media welcomed some newcomers to its gang in 2015, with Periscope making the biggest splash. If you’ve been hiding under a rock in 2015, Periscope is a live-streaming app which has surged in popularity over the past few months with businesses and celebrity personalities alike. As new apps are developed, they are integrated with pre-existing CRM software and social media link-ups. 2016 will see a new period in joined-up user experience, better-connected activity and, you guessed it, even more customer data!

3. Giving control back to the customer

Companies that focus on differentiating themselves by providing a unique customer experience will thrive in the years ahead. Technology is driving innovation to provide customers what they want, when they want it. In 2016, CRM users will have access to enhanced, modern interfaces that incorporate social and mobile customer data to empower the employee to drive extraordinary customer relationships. A fantastic user experience will mean more intelligent CRM practices, which will make it much easier to execute a seamless customer journey, taking them from awareness and purchase through to retention and advocacy.

4. SMS sophistication

Mobile marketing can provide customers with personalised information that is both time and location sensitive, promoting goods, services and suggestions. On average, SMS messages are read within four minutes, making them highly convertible and we think that 2016 is going to see SMS messaging come into its own. After a spell of spammers, mobile operators implemented structured guidelines, making SMS a hugely popular branch of mobile marketing. Optimising the placement of messages can ensure higher engagement and drive customer loyalty and if this is integrated with incentivised sign-ups or downloads, can help to develop your database too.

5. Get to the point

Emails are going to move away from vertical scrolling, so marketers need to make their point quickly. We’ve already discussed the novelty value of a side scrolling email and how you could put it to use in your campaigns, but we think that scrolling altogether might see a decrease in popularity in 2016. Done well, parallax scrolling can create an engaging and dynamic email if designed flawlessly, but with the busy lives our customers lead nowadays we think that succinct, simplified campaigns with a prominent call to action will be making waves in 2016.

6. The rise of the smartwatch

It’s no secret that customers spend more time on mobile technology than desktops, so we email marketers have sought to keep pace with this and, in particular, the surging popularity of the smartwatch. Apple has one, Android has one, how are we going to target these customers who now might not even use their phone to check emails? Smartwatches and smart devices are best used to provide a “snapshot” of the email content, so succinct plain-text campaigns with a prominent CTA are going to display best on these devices. We’ll have to do away with sleek graphics and fancy images in campaigns, as these are a one way ticket to zero engagement if they fail to display properly on a smartwatch.

So there’s our six predictions for 2016, and we think they’re all pretty exciting! We’re looking forward to seeing what the year has in store in terms of technological advancements, new software, apps and devices. To stay up-to-date with the latest developments, don’t miss our weekly digital round-up.