Last year was an epic one in the email marketing world, and the success may be attributed to an increased focus on best practices. According to Econsultancy, 80% of marketing professionals rated basic segmentation as their highest priority while 73% of marketers planned to optimize emails for mobile devices (a 9% increase from 2016). Furthermore, regular list cleansing, data personalization, and dynamic email content were all strategies email marketers planned to employ in their email marketing campaigns in 2017.
With 72% of consumers saying email is their first choice for communication with brands, and email marketing continuing to top the charts as the best driver for ROI in the digital marketing world, it’s vital to continue to prioritize best practices all while considering email marketing predictions from top marketers for 2018.
Here are 6 predictions from Campaign Monitor’s interviews with top email marketers for 2018 to help you stay on top of your game.
1. A new marketing funnel emerges
Any marketing professional is familiar with the concept of the marketing and sales funnel. The idea of a lead entering the top of the funnel and customers emerging out of the bottom of the funnel is not new.
However, Samantha Anderl at Campaign Monitor explains the the traditional sales and marketing funnel is now dead. With new digital marketing channels and tactics, customers can now enter into the marketing and sales funnel at different stages, in different phases, and be nurtured in different ways.
This new marketing funnel requires creating multi-channel, multi-path, and multi-touch customer experiences at any phase of the marketing and/or customer life cycle. Marketers need a more holistic approach to reaching customers—-an approach where they focus on the complete journey with the end goal of maximizing the lifetime customer value and fostering customer loyalty.
With regards to email marketing, Anderl says, the biggest upcoming challenge will to be deliver personalized, relevant, multi-channel journeys.
2. Email automation will become turbocharged
Chad S. White from Litmus predicts an increase in email marketers investing more time in creating more relevant messages, rather than focusing on sending mass messages.
Furthermore, he anticipates email marketers will look at automation in a new light. Rather than a “set it and forget it” mentality, marketers will treat email automation with a “review and improve” strategy. This means we will see more marketers investing in A/B testing to maximize efficiency.
This year, marketers will continue to focus on reaching customers through automation, but with a renewed dedication to increasing relevance.
3. Personalization focuses on “what is next” not “what was”
Everyone has been jumping on the personalization bandwagon, and Alex Williams from Trendline Interactive explains why this will continue to be a huge trend in 2018.
Williams says personalization in past years has largely focused on past events including user purchases, subscriber personas, and life stage events.
With increases in machine learning and data-science, Williams suggests personalization will start shifting towards “what is next” instead of what happened in the past. As technology improves, marketers will be able to more effectively personalize content to mass audiences.
4. Marketers will own the multi-channel experience
Like Samantha Anderl from Campaign Monitor, Philip Storey from Enchant has big expectations for marketers to own the entire customer lifecycle. He says in past years marketers have focused on customer acquisition and loyalty, but haven’t paid as much attention to other areas of the life cycle.
In 2018, things will be different, especially with advances in technology. Marketers this year will be able to focus on, and deliver value for, each customer touchpoint throughout the entire lifecycle.
This focus on the customer lifecycle will touch every channel of marketing including email, social, paid, direct, and onsite personalisation, Storey explains.
5. Predictive marketing metrics will improve
Kath Pay from Holistic Email Marketing has big hopes for improvements in predictive marketing metrics. She explains marketers are currently very campaign-oriented in their approach to metrics. They measure the success of individual campaigns rather than individual lifetime customer value.
As machine learning and artificial intelligence improve, she predicts a shift from campaign metrics to predictive CLV (customer lifetime value) that measures current types of actionable insights. These metrics will keep marketers more well informed and help them make winning, data-driven marketing decisions.
This shift, Pay predicts, will give marketers better insights and, therefore, provide customers will a better overall experience.
6. Smarter tools for marketing automation
This year, Jordie van Rijn, founder at emailvendorselection.com, expects to see the line between email marketing, marketing automation, and CRM to blur. Why? He predicts automation companies will improve and expand their features to advance marketing automation.
For example, he expects a rise in visual workflow builders, improved email provider tools with more user-friendly automation features, and tools to make automation easier, more productive, and highly targeted.
Van Rijn suggests these tools will provide higher value, but come at a more affordable price point. He expects to see some innovation from new acquisitions, but most will come with current companies offering improved tools.
As technology, AI, and machine learning improve, so does email marketing strategy. When looking at the predictions from these 6 marketers as a whole, it’s clear they expect better tools to help with multi-channel marketing. These tools will help marketers focus on catering to customers throughout each touchpoint, nurture customers through the entire customer lifecycle, and provide highly relevant and automated customer experiences.
If you haven’t already, now is the time to vamp up your tools and processes for 2018. Otherwise, you’ll be left in the dark.
Andrea Robbins is a Content Marketing Manager at Campaign Monitor. She loves spending time outdoors and a good cup of coffee. Keep up with her on Twitter @andirobz