The destiny of email marketing and email is intimately linked – so what does the future hold?

In March this year, Ray Tomlinson, the purported inventor of email, passed away. It has been almost fifty years since he helped to usher in a new age of personal and business communication including email marketing. The ritual of starting our days with a walk to the letterbox was all but banished. Nowadays, post is more of a hassle than a help my letterbox is largely neglected barring tossing out junk mail.

Some people claim that we have once again reached a new horizon in communication technology and like its progenitor, email too has died. Inboxes are inundated with a never-ending stream of virtual flyers and spam. Millennials are embracing instant messaging and wearable devices (users will swell to over a billion this year), apparently rendering email clunky, outdated and irrelevant. Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg recently stated that

“High school kids don’t use email, they use SMS a lot … people want lighter-weight things like SMS and IM to message each other.”

Apps like Slack and Knowmail are trending for businesses looking to eliminate spam from their offices, and seem to outperform more traditional means like Gmail tabs when it comes to organising email.

mark zuckerberg introducing facebook

No market for email marketers?

However, allusions to the death of email don’t sit easily alongside the indisputable fact that there are currently more registered email accounts than ever before, and more emails being sent daily than any time previously. A recent report by Radicati revealed that there are more than 2.6 billion email users in the world, a number that is expected to grow by 300 million before 2020.  Moreover, email is going mobile, which means that customers can be reached anywhere, anytime: Gmail users alone are 75% mobile.

Just as email is alive and kicking, so too is email marketing – in fact,  this is disputably the best time to explore email marketing as a way to develop a brand and reach new customers. Research by McKinsey and Company and Circle Research points to email’s continued efficacy as a medium of customer communication; email is 40-fold more effective than social media at acquiring new customers, and 88% of businessesrate email as their most effective means of generating leads. From the customer’s perspective, while instant messaging appears to dominate personal communication, email remains the preferred way to be contacted by companies and brands.

The transformation of email marketing

So what does the changing face of email marketing mean in practice? In short, paying attention to the changes in email practices, expectations and technologies is more important that ever. There is no clear end in sight for effective email marketing, but to be effective, it needs to change alongside its medium.

How do consumers feel about all this?

While research by Marketing Sherpa shows that over a quarter of American adults wantmore promotional emails, half of those people want to see a change in email marketing methods. 25% want less non-promotional content in their inboxes, and a similar number want more personalised communications. For email marketing to continue to flourish, we need to listen to consumers, otherwise we risk a loss of public trust and may feel the same scorn as letterbox stuffers do today.

what people want from an email chart

What changes are the experts predicting?

So what responses can we expect to emerge in the world of email marketing? Email Monday put the same question to the top marketing minds. Their predictions includethings like hyper-personalisation, and the interactivity and animation of content as ways that email will allow a more engaged customer experience. They suggested that we are on the cusp of a revolution in email design, where HTML coding will make way for drag-and-drop templating. Vendasta predict that emails will get the face lift they desperately need through mobile-first design with thumb-friendly content, and that automation and data analysis softwares will further aid in optimal timing of communication. If you want your next email marketing campaign to be successful, you need to start tuning into these sorts of discussions and stay ahead of the game!

email in five years chart

In all, email is set to become sleeker, more targeted and more engaging, and there are a plethora of tricks to make your emails more appealing. This might all seem a bit confusing or overwhelming, but luckily that there are also a growing number of experts in the field of email marketing to guide you through into the future!

Do you think email is a dying form of communication? Let us know in the comments below.

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