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Email has been around for a while now, and it’s done us all proud. The ubiquitous method of communication is so pervasive as a communication method that not having one is even more unusual than not having a telly (brave souls).

It’s difficult to talk about a new communication channel without comparing it to email, and for email to remain relevant it needs to evolve to give consumers what they now expect from digital communication channels.

1. Become geographically and time aware

The trouble with email is that it is dumb to all the technology that is available to it. As email marketers you are used to understanding when, how, on what and where people are checking their emails – but the clients themselves aren’t using this information to produce a richer email consumption experience.

Check out this shot of Sergy Brin on the NYC underground with his snazzy Google glasses (me want); the primary driver of this tech is augmented reality, directions, tips, reviews, Facebook & Foursquare check-ins of your friends.

Even so, people are going to want to be able to check their email and this tech nirvana would be brought to an abrupt end when all your emails whizz past your eyes while you are trying to look hip.

BUT imagine a world where your email client knows where you are (on the tube) and where you are going (downtown so you’ll be on the tube for 20 minutes), so it navigates to emails which it knows will take you 20 minutes to digest – maybe the latest from the Financial Times?

Geographically aware email is not that far away. Apple’s Passbook (Android options do exist) has been missed by so many bricks and mortar retailers that it’s frankly scary.

Passbook allows you to tag your prospect or client so that they receive notifications when they are near your store, so you get more footfall to your store from people who have already engaged with you online – something HMV would have crawled over broken CDs for.

An awesome fellow @pure360’er, Kav Webb, did a blog on practically how you can do this

2. Replace notifications 

It is bizarre what you can do to trigger a tweet. There are some great examples on iftt.com, but the trouble with Twitter is that you easily miss tweets – especially if you follow more than a few hundred people.

To the contrary, email never goes away until you address it, bar a few smart innovations from outlook.com, so as we have more and more devices we need to keep track or we will start to see more emails from our actual belongings. 

Notifications on your smart phone are pretty intrusive – the fact that the iPhone is advertised as having a ‘do not disturb’ button gives an indication of the backlash against constant interruptions.

So expect to see emails from devices and applications a lot more – an email from your boiler asking if you want to turn the heating up as it’s getting a bit chilly outside, for instance – naturally you’ll reply in human language if you want to.

3. No more annoying emails

You can’t get away with sending unsolicited emails anymore. Back in the bad old days of email, marketing spam filters weren’t very sophisticated and as long as you weren’t pushing Viagra marketers could email a lot of people quite easily.

However, after the efforts of the larger ISPs, spam filters are now very smart, meaning that you really shouldn’t receive any email that you don’t want. This decline has predominately already happened but will continue to get tighter as people become less satisfied with unwarranted marketing messages.

The emails that annoy me are the “thanks” emails or “ok”, these little digital fist bumps don’t belong on email – these belong on an Instant Messaging platform.

Soon enough there will be a common protocol for IM so it won’t matter what client or service you are using, you will simply be able to chat with people who you want to.

Important!

Do you remember when people paid attention to the priorities you set your emails to – no me neither. They didn’t work because someone else set the priority so it may have been important to them but not to you – hence why no one uses it.

In the future your email clients will decide what is important to you, much like Facebook decides what to show in your feed (though with less interjections from advertisers). As all of us know the inbox has become a place to process tasks and messages – a little help getting things in priority order would surely be a hit.

I know, that was four … What do you think the future holds for email?  

Marc Munier

Published 29 January, 2013 by Marc Munier

Marc Munier is commercial director at Pure360, and a contributor to Econsultancy. You can hook up with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

11 more posts from this author

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Andrew

Marc, yes that was four ;-) However, they are all important when it comes to keeping consumers interested.

almost 4 years ago

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Chris Hogan,

Spam is dead? Tell that to the idiots who send me a dozen or more worthless emails a day. Spammers move around the filters in a never-ending dance of futility.

almost 4 years ago

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Richard Speigal

...and number 4. Can they go responsive?
99% of marketing emails look utterly terrible on my smartphone.

almost 4 years ago

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Cody Sharp

I don't think responsive design is going to ever be used in the majority of emails. It costs quite a bit of money or requires an actual email design person to do - which many business (perhaps most businesses) don't have. For large companies, yes. For the majority of small companies, no.

That being said, mobile optimized emails should be everywhere at this point.

Loved the throw in of Passbook. Geo targeting emails are magic and very few email marketers even know the technology exist. Thanks for the article.

almost 4 years ago

Marc Munier

Marc Munier, Commercial Director at Pure360

Chris

Re Spam filters - not sure what filters you are using but Gmail as standard removes everything for me - haven't had a true spam email ever. Marketing messages you can't remember opting in to or that you just don't want any more can also be filtered very easily. Outlook.com also provides this functionality. Other spam filters will catchup very quickly - as soon as the standard is set others will follow.

almost 4 years ago

Marc Munier

Marc Munier, Commercial Director at Pure360

Hey Cody

I agree with you, responsive design for all is probably further off than we (and Richard) would like.

Also accept that as it requires human input it isn't going to be overnight however I do think this will become standard, just like disc brakes started in F1 and are now in every car. The huge variety of devices that we can now check our email on means it has to.

In order to facilitate it perhaps there will be a standardisation of certain responsive elements ?

Marc

almost 4 years ago

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David Thomas

This is the nice information the future of email marketing and I really agree with your three points but today’s Email marketing is not only direct communication channel but also is become more powerful tool for the business broadcasting.

almost 4 years ago

Marc Munier

Marc Munier, Commercial Director at Pure360

No argument from me David emails versatility as a communication method is its core strength

almost 4 years ago

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Alec

Great Post! Next step will be a shift to extend contextual (location, time, etc.) understanding to email??

almost 4 years ago

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