- More Widespread Use of Predictive Analytics in Email Marketing
Predictive analytics is the extracting of information from customer datasets to help predict trends and customer buying behavior in the future. In other words, it’s the application of technology and predictive tools to make smarter and more effective marketing decisions based on actual customer behaviors. With the help of predictive analytics, marketers can boost email engagement, create messages that are more personalized for individual customer segments, improve nurturing campaigns, streamline data analytics for insights in real time, and more.More e-commerce retailers are now applying predictive analytics to their email-marketing efforts, thanks to access to vast amounts of customer data, improved computing power with the Cloud, and the development of more sophisticated algorithms. Plus, there are now a number of predictive platforms that can help marketers easily leverage predictive technology. Because many of these tools can be costly, however, primarily only larger companies have been fully committed to predictive marketing today.As predictive technology improves and becomes more widely available over the next year, more small and midsized companies likely will be able to implement predictive tools and strategies. So, if you haven’t already, it may be time for your company to start investigating predictive marketing solutions to see how they can help you gain more insight into your target audience and apply a more strategic approach to your email campaign.
- Use of Real-Time Automation Continues to Increase
Marketing automation—a combination of software and strategy to deliver highly relevant and personalized email campaigns—will continue to be a growing trend in email marketing. Going hand-in-hand with predictive analytics, real-time marketing automation will reach a whole new level over the next year. Marketers are realizing that it’s the key to cost-effectively managing communications based on subscriber engagement. It’s also a key tool to help pound down ongoing deliverability issues for those who have them.In 2017, we’ll likely see more and more marketers crafting and sending email messages in response to, and tailored to, such data as products searched for or previously purchased, or based on content reviewed or downloaded. We’ll also see a growth in the number and sophistication of triggers beyond the typical welcome and shopping cart–abandonment email campaigns currently used by e-commerce retailers today.
- New Email Creation Tools That Lower Email Development Costs
It seems that, nearly every week, a new tool or application for creating emails is introduced. And this trend will likely accelerate over the next year. The good news is that these email creation tools make it easier to develop beautifully designed and highly functional emails at a lower cost. The following are just a few examples:
- Foundation for Emails 2—This family of front-end frameworks enables the fast and simple design of responsive emails and websites.
- Dovetailer—This HTML email compiler lets you write emails using modern web technologies like Sass (for styling) and Handlebars (for HTML templating). But it is much more than a simple build chain that inlines styles and generates HTML and text versions. Its core focus is on automating compliance with modern email best practices. For example, it automatically applies reset styles, figures out dimensions of images, and fixes unicode characters—and it’s getting better all the time.
- Litmus—Litmus, mostly known for email testing tools, also offers a number of tools to quickly and easily design, build, code, and fully customize emails.
- Email Service Providers (ESPs) Vastly Improve Their Capabilities
2016 brought an aggressive set of product development in the ESP space, especially in the e-commerce realm. ESPs new and old are building out their capabilities, and the market appears to be responding favorably.Emailers need deep integration with their e-commerce systems to gain the benefits of segmentation, email automation, and predictive analytics. Expect to see ESPs continue the aggressive development in this area. In addition, tighter integration with behavioral data that drives abandoned–shopping cart email automations, browse abandonment programs, and other pre- and post-purchase behavior will further enrich the data sets needed to drive the best returns on investment (ROI).ESPs that are not focused exclusively on e-commerce are also embarking on aggressive product development to support their target markets. Plan to see increasingly integrated, multi-channel marketing tools that not only talk the talk, but actually deliver. You can already see some of the integrated capabilities getting better and easier to use, including SMS (automations, geotargeting, scheduling), social (integration with email lists for retargeting inactive or other targeted segments), web integration (capture and use of behavioral data), and, of course, email. It’s tough for any ESP to create a one-system-fits-all system, but as the API and automation capabilities continue to improve, end users, agencies, and others will be creating increasingly sophisticated solutions for individual markets.Finally, expect to see increasingly simple tools for creating and modifying templates and emails directly in the ESP. This has clearly become a focus for a number of ESPs, and I expect this to continue to be a point of advantage for those that do it well.
All of these advancements that push the boundaries in 2017 will serve to allow marketers to be more sophisticated and drive better returns with less investment, continually improving the ROI of their email programs. Despite a steady rise in the use of social media marketing, email will remain a vital part of the marketing mix for brands. It’s still the chosen channel for directly responding to, and engaging with, prospects and customers. And expect the ROI to continue to be among the highest—if not the highest—in terms of marketing tools.
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