We’ve taken a look back at email in 2017, so now it’s time to stargaze into the year ahead.

Before we do, don’t forget you can check out these additional resources:

From traffic to transactions

Steven Ledgerwood, Managing Director UK, Emarsys:

Big-name brands have been exploring ways to turn email from a traffic channel to a direct revenue generator, and I expect this to be a big focus in 2018. Embedded ‘Buy Now’ options, allowing consumers to purchase goods and services from within an email, and integrated bills which encourage customers to pay their electricity or gas bills within their email instead of having to go directly to a site, will become increasingly common.

As part of this, ‘batch and blast’ email campaigns are likely to become less frequent in the near future. With the content and design of every email now determined by consumers’ personal preferences to increase conversions, bulk emails will become less frequent as they simply can’t be tailored to unique user preferences.

With the above changes in mind, email will become one of the largest transaction platforms on earth in the coming years, moving well beyond its traditional roots as a traffic channel.

ESP agnosticism

Parry Malm, CEO, Phrasee:

In 2017, and in 2018, and 2019, companies will change their ESPs more than they change their socks, often blaming a technology provider for their woes. But, there’s a problem with this - most ESPs are basically the same thing. Sure, some have some bells and whistles here and there, but you upload data, upload HTML, and click launch.

The future of this channel is not ESPs, and hasn’t been for some time (a trend I called in 2016). ESP-agnostic solutions - like KickDynamic, MovableInk, FreshRelevance, LiveIntent - and of course Phrasee (yep, I love a shameless plug) are the companies that will be driving things forward.

Realistic AI

Parry Malm:

Sure, AI can drive autonomous vehicles, and can probably cure cancer more effectively than doctors. But there are other, more important things it can do - for example, optimising email subject lines.

The focus in 2018 should shift away from apocalyptic and quixotic (and unrealistic) use cases for AI, and focus on ones that can be used right now to either save money, or make money. AI may steal your job in 2040, but in 2018, it can get you promoted - if you use it wisely.

Creative AI

Steven Ledgerwood:

It’s always exciting to discover new ways to communicate more closely and effectively with customers. In automaton and AI, we now have the tools to do that, and many brands are already making use of their capabilities to enhance their execution of email campaigns. But what excites me is the next step: using AI to complement creativity.

By harnessing all aspects of email engagement data - not just CTRs - and converting it into actionable insight, brands will be able to create bespoke communications for their customers at scale, allowing marketers to dedicate their time to what they love – the creative content of campaigns. Only by doing this will they achieve true differentiation in the market.

Fostering engagement

Colby Cavanaugh, Senior VP of marketing, Emma, Inc:

Email marketing in 2018 will be more about engagement than acquisition. Having a subscriber list that’s fully engaged is not only going to give marketers better results from an analytical perspective, it’s going to give them higher priority in terms of actually reaching the inbox. They’ll have to resist the temptation to be on the “grow your audience” treadmill, where it’s acquire, acquire, acquire all the time. Instead, they’ll take a moment to focus, provide value, and be generous to their most engaged audience.

Dynamic content

Graham Charlton, editor in chief, SaleCycle:

Emails will continue to become smarter, as the competition for attention increases. 

Brands will increasingly use data to personalise and create emails which are more relevant to the recipient’s interests, habits and purchase history. We’ll also see more use of dynamic content, where elements of the email are updated as people open them. For example, live pricing can be shown, and images and other content can be adapted to the recipient’s location.

Any thoughts? Get stuck in below.

Nikki Gilliland

Published 21 December, 2017 by Nikki Gilliland @ Econsultancy

Nikki is a Writer at Econsultancy. You can follow her on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn.

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