Email Marketing Predictions: How Did the Pundits Do?

Somehow, we’re nearly at the end of 2018! And the only thing more inexorable than the passage of time is the appearance of predictions for the year ahead. So I thought this would be an interesting time to review a set of predictions that our friends at Smart Insights made near the beginning of the year. 

Trend 1: Respect for Personal Data will change your marketing strategy 

Remember the Golden Age before GDPR? When marketers sailed the boundless seas of IP addresses, firing emails like cannon balls at poor unsuspecting merchant ships with wild abandon? 

Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite that bad, but GDPR has certainly shifted how professional marketers dispatch their marketing emails, and who they target. The biggest change we have noticed is a massive surge in the number of prospects who are aware of the law, and confident in asserting their Right To Be Forgotten. 

On the whole, this has been an uplifting trend for us: the lack of a major case of GDPR breach seems to be a positive for the reputation of Marketing as a profession. By stamping out bad practice, there is less noise to cut through for positive, genuine content. 

We’ve found that GDPR has actually improved our marketing; by sweeping out old or dodgy data to comply with the law, our open rates and CTR have both improved! We’re now even better at targeting the right people at the right time, and having more productive conversations as a result. So GPDR has not been all doom and gloom. 

Accuracy-o-meter: 5* 

Trend 2: Mailable ‘Microsites’ are adopted by more companies to increase customer research, engagement, and retention 

Historically, our experience has been that “Outlook-style” emails performed better than GIF-heavy, overly designed content. The change in this trend is driven by the ability of more ESPs to offer embedded images, which are not turned into red-crossed boxes by uncooperative inboxes. 

We are doing our bit to drive the trend, by making it easier to add countdowns, dynamic content and embedded images with our drag-and-drop email tool, GatorCreator. 

Personal Data has a starring role in this endeavour, as the optimum degree of personalisation requires you to hold enough, accurate data on all the members of your list. However, it is critical to not get carried away: overly-personalised emails can come across as creepy. 

Accuracy-o-meter: 3* 

Trend 3: Conversational tone is adopted for more personal interaction with audience 

More than any other on this list, this trend depends significantly on what sector you are operating in and targeting. The level of informality in an email from a tech house like Phrasee wouldn’t be appropriate from a corporate insurance provider. 

As Sales cycles lengthen for every industry, the role of email has shifted from billboard to conversation starter. Your marketing emails need to prod the recipient into action, then allow them the space to approach the buying cycle in the way that suits them. 

The continued growth of social media as a B2B tool is a perfect example of starting conversations. The shorter nature of social posts means that hooking readers with a good mix of information and emotion is more critical than ever in making your strategy work. 

Accuracy-o-meter: 3* 

Trend 4: More businesses push for mobile-friendly design 

We all spend more time on our phones than we did even a year ago. More and more platforms are creating apps or mobile friendly versions, allowing us to deal with expenses, meetings and emails on the go.  

As with a conversational tone, the demographic you are targeting matters. It may not be a surprise to learn that 16-24 year olds spend twice as much of their online time on mobile than 55-64 years olds (50% and 26% respectively) but did you know that 45-54 year olds turn to mobile for 35% of their online activity? Mobile is not just a young person’s game! 

Both our email builders, GatorMail and GatorCreator, allow you to preview how your emails will look on various mobile devices, as well as on a standard desktop. Make sure that your email looks great wherever they are viewed! 

Accuracy-o-meter: 4* 

Trend 5: Testing and deliverability need addressing further 

A.I. is still the buzzword of the moment, but the heady visions that its keenest advocates promised us are still some way from materialising. The key to reaching this future utopia is to feed as much data into AI engines, like GatorMail’s CTR analyser, as possible. This will improve predictions over time, but is not a magic bullet. 

Testing emails to see how they engage is not going to stop being important any time soon. Whether you are already all over AI or just getting started, a veteran of split-testing or yet to take the plunge, these tools are only going to grow in importance. 

Not sure what you should be split-testing? Our Great British Split Test 2018 is a great place to start. We’ve identified several variables which are easy to split-test, and have had a noticeable impact on our emails. We’re fascinated to see how the results track across different industries (yep, we’re just that cool!) 

Accuracy-o-meter: 5* 

Trend 6: Personalisation and segmentation remain a high priority to continue sharing dynamic and engaging content 

When was the last time you bothered to open a letter addressed to “The Homeowner”? One interesting upshot of GDPR is the growing notion that if companies are going to hold your data, they could at least use it accurately to offer products and services which you actually want. 

Our emails aren’t always perfect, but the issue which always gets a miffed response is when a message is addressed to the wrong person. It seems that the wrong name gets a worse reception than no name at all, so make sure your data is squeaky clean before you launch into this! 

As for segmentation, if you’re only dividing your contacts by industry or geography, you’re missing opportunities to engage them far more deeply. Take a look at our Integrations page; we have built specific integrations with a wide range of CRMs, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Try targeting Marketing Managers at Accountancy firms, with teams of 3 or more, who use SalesForce CRM, within 40 miles of your office. You can strike a chord with content which is relevant to highly specific challenges and opportunities, and your Sales team will be heavily armed and able to have great conversations which will convert more easily. 

Accuracy-o-meter: 5* 

What comes next? 

Looking back over the predictions as a whole, it’s pretty clear that Marketing isn’t going to stand still any time soon, but we need to temper the impulse to view every new idea as a sea change which will sweep away all that came before it. That’s why our whole suite of tools is focused on helping you to identify your prospects, and to tailor what you send them for maximum impact. We’re sure that we’ve got the tools you need to build on these predictions, and smash your goals in 2019!

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