We’ve already rounded up the top email marketing trends from 2015, and now it’s time to look forward to 2016.

I asked several experts to suggest the trends that will define email marketing over the next 12 months.

They included:

And here’s what they had to say…

1. Personalisation

Hannah Price:

This is a topic that has been on the marketing agenda for the past few years but as yet very few brands have managed to fully deliver on this promise.  

Hopefully 2016 will be the year where we start to see this become standard.  

The step change we have seen is that most companies now have moved away from broadcast to segmented campaigns, but few have managed one-to-one personal experience.

2. Localisation

Joanne Yarnall:

This ties into personalisation, but I expect to see much greater use of factors like territory, local language, culture, currency, etc.

3. Subscriber psychology

Guy Hanson:

I definitely expect brands to start spending more time considering ‘why’ subscribers behave in the way that they do – outside of the usual product/offer/creative considerations. 

We are going to start to see greater use of approaches such as embodied cognition and nudge theory to further increase subscriber engagement.

4. Embedded content

Joanne Yarnall:

In 2015 a lot of marketers have been using animated Gifs, which have generally received a positive response and driven strong engagement / interaction.

I would imagine that 2016 will see this move on another step to greater use of video content.

5. Data protection reforms

Guy Hanson:

Suddenly, the EU data protection reforms are becoming a near reality. 

Email marketers are going to have to grasp the nettle, particularly in terms of dealing with the new requirements for “explicit consent” as well as the “right to be forgotten.”

6. Context is … important

Steve Denner:

For 2016, understanding the context in which email is read will have a huge impact on the way we plan and execute email marketing. 

It’s no longer the case of being mobile-friendly. As a matter of fact, we can’t bundle up all mobile devices into one type of experience. 

The way our subscribers interact with smartphones is different from the way and purpose for which they use a tablet. 

From a design and user experience perspective, we need to stop thinking about rendering the same email in different clients and start thinking about adapting our message and design to the environment in which it is interacted with.

7. Dynamic email content

Steve Denner:

Related to context is the increased interest in dynamic email content. 

Whether that’s changing email content depending on the weather and location of the email open, including live stock levels for retailers or creating urgency with countdown clocks, relevant messaging is going to rely much more on context than stated preferences. 

Particularly with new data legislation pending in Europe, marketers will have to do more with observed behaviour and less with data shared by the consumers.

8. Rise of the machines

Kath Pay:

Be prepared to see more machine learning technology available in 2016.

Although machine learning has been around for a while, it’s really only just beginning to take off in email marketing when being applied to data mining.

It uses algorithms to make decisions on content delivery based on data and insights from previous campaigns.

It means that email messages are constantly evolving and improving over time, rather than sticking to criteria previously set out by the marketer.

Machine learning can be used to optimise every aspect of email campaigns, including sending time, subject lines, content, product recommendations and more.

9. Improved email quality

Parry Malm:

There’s been so much focus 2015 on optimising the operational aspects of a campaign – that is, *how* you send out emails.

But if the message is crap to start with, you’re creating an operationally efficient turd polishing system. There are nascent technologies that use advanced technologies to optimise *what* is sent out, not just how it’s sent out. 

You can automate crap emails, or automate non-crap emails. 

And in 2016, I hope email marketers will look at ways to make the emails themselves not crap, and efficiently send out decent email on a wide, profitable scale.  

David Moth

Published 22 December, 2015 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (1)

Peter Duffy

Peter Duffy, Director for Strategic Accounts at Mercanto

Hi David,

Thanks for this excellent article. Yes, this is a great summary of trends impacting email.

The points re machine learning, personalisation, 'don't send crap emails', and dynamic content are in some ways interrelated. Early adopter brands (- PayPal, eBay, etc) are already injecting machine-driven content into their ESPs. It works - the quantifiable revenue uplift (against a control) varies from 30%-80%, depending on the brand.

For example, eBay were able to increase the revenue per opened email up to 250% in some countries and 68% globally.

From a techie perspective, you can use a Natural Language Processing engine on your content/catalogue data and marry it other datasets including CRM, behavioural, seasonality, trending products, inventory, geo, device type, as well as business rules. Then use a self-optimising algorithm to inject personalised content for each recipient into your ESP.

Here to help,

Peter

about 2 years ago

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