5 Predictions For Email Marketing In 2020
From hyper-personalization to voice interfaces, columnist Chad White takes a look at what email marketers should expect in four years.
In honor of Leap Day this month, Litmus (my employer) asked 20 email experts about their vision for the channel in the year 2020, which is when the next Leap Day will be.
Their “Email Marketing in 2020” predictions covered everything from inbox functionality to email service provider functionality and from legislation to personalization.
Of course, I have my own vision for what the channel will look like in four years. So here are my predictions, along with info on whether I’m out on a limb by myself or if some of our contributors are out there with me:
Dynamic content, personalization and real-time content will be much more prevalent in 2020, along with the next generation of triggered emails that are sent in response to a much wider and more diverse range of behaviors.
While marketers will still send a lot of broadcast messages, the vast majority of their email revenue will come from these much more targeted messages.
The hyper-personalization trend within email will dovetail with the “Internet of Me” trend, where consumers are increasingly expecting to see content on the web, in their mobile apps and elsewhere that speaks to their unique usage and needs.
Out on a limb… with Salesforce Marketing Cloud SVP of Product Marketing Eric Stahl, Trendline Interactive CEO Morgan Stewart, Epsilon VP of Digital Strategy and Insights Jill LeMaire Redo, and Zettasphere Email Marketing Consultant Tim Watson, among others. This was one of the most common predictions from our contributors.
2. Interactive Emails
Emails have traditionally been gateways to landing pages. However, by 2020, a lot more consideration will happen within the inbox itself, thanks to email carousels, rollover images, embedded video, hamburger menus and other interactive features.
Landing pages will still be vital, but email interactivity will create new interaction flows and make landing pages unnecessary in some cases.
Think about how Google Forms currently function within Gmail inboxes. Now amp that up and imagine it working in most major inboxes.
Out on a limb… with MailChimp VP of Marketing Tom Klein, DEG Director of Direct Marketing and eCRM Cara Olson and Rebelmail Email Developer Mark Robbins, all of whom see subscribers interacting more with emails before reaching a landing page.
3. Voice Interfaces
There’s a clear trend over the past decade or two toward people viewing emails on progressively smaller screens — desktops, tablets, phablets, smartphones, and most recently, watches. The next logical step? No screen at all.
Cars, wearables and many Internet of Things devices will in time be reading us our emails and allowing us to reply and respond. This includes headsets and earpieces like the one I’m predicting Apple will release later this year.
Just as we’ve seen browser wars and mobile OS wars in the past, we’re already starting to see the war for voice interfaces take shape, with Apple’s Siri, Microsoft’s Cortana and Amazon’s Alexa being the major contenders so far.
The visual minimalism represented by voice interfaces is the polar opposite of the interactive email movement — with the email client spectrum being stretched simultaneously toward both more functionality and less functionality. This minimalism also represents a growing number of untrackable email clients that don’t allow marketers to see opens or clicks.
Out on a limb… with DEG Director of Direct Marketing and eCRM Cara Olson. Code School Front-End Developer Dan Denney and Litmus CEO Paul Farnell also predict that marketers will have to contend with some stripped-down email interfaces.
4. Tighter Rules
The US has done little to regulate email or privacy since passing HIPAA in 1996 and the weak and largely unenforced CAN-SPAM Act of 2003. In the years ahead, the US may very well update CAN-SPAM and pass new privacy laws given that data breaches have become so common that they rarely make front-page news anymore.
However, the US will continue to be the caboose of the regulatory train.
Canada, the UK and the EU will continue to be the leaders in terms of driving regulations, dragging US companies into a future where consumers have more rights over their data. And inbox providers will continue to be the leaders in terms of combating dangerous, unsolicited and unwanted email.
Out on a limb… with Deliverability Ltd. founder Andrew Bonar, SparkPost VP of Industry Relations Len Shneyder and Word to the Wise Owner Laura Atkins, all of whom foresee more security and privacy hoops for marketers to jump through.
5. An Open Social Network
Remember how email used to be in the 1980s and early 1990s? Email networks were gated. If you were on CompuServe, you could only email other CompuServe users, for instance.
Then the walls came down, and email became an open platform. Then adoption and usage really took off.
We may see something similar happen among social networks in a decade or so, driven by the successful launch of an open social network over the next few years. Inbox providers would be able to freely incorporate this social network’s feed into their existing interfaces so that email updates and social updates are just a tab away from each other in a unified inbox.
This new social network might even be built on email architecture.
Having tried and failed several times to compete with Facebook, Google may be the one to pioneer the first open social network with the goal of commoditizing and fragmenting the market. As an open platform, the bar for innovation would be lower because accessibility would be the differentiator.
It’s also possible that it may be driven by open source, public interest or technology community groups like Mozilla.
Out on a limb… all by myself. Admittedly, this is a skinny branch. But if it happens, it could be the catalyst for Email 8.0… or would it be 9.0? I’m not sure. Email has evolved several times already and is primed to continue to evolve further by 2020 and beyond.