Here’s what will happen with email in 2017:
Nothing is going to change until we as marketers change how we think about email.
Look at the last 10 years or so. The email-marketing industry has not seen the explosive growth of other advertising media, such as social, apps, wearables, artificial intelligence and machine learning.
Those areas have taken vast leaps forward that enabled marketers to deliver more consistent, personalized messages to their customers. Advertising platforms like Google and Facebook abandoned cookies in favor of being able to identify the consumer individually.
We’ve seen advancements everywhere except in email. That’s why I see nothing changing in email in 2017 until we rethink our approach to email.
If you’re not willing to do that, you should stop reading right now. Unless you want to see what could come your way if you invest a few more minutes.
Four predictions for 2017
I hope to see more marketers become “first-person” marketers. They’re the ones who will profit most by these predictions.
1) More marketers choose first-person marketing.
First-person marketers reject the notions that “batch and blast” is the best way to email and they need test only the subject line.
First-person marketers focus on each customer as an individual instead of just another email address in a database. Every email they send gets them closer to marketing to their customers as individuals.
First-person marketers work hard for incremental changes. They realize that their own system, budgets, company structures and internal politics won’t allow them to make big leaps. But, they can change one thing at a time and then build on that progress.
A first-person marketer doesn’t just send a campaign but also personalizes messages to ensure that the campaign appeals to every recipient.
2) First-person marketers will focus on wearable devices.
This does not mean obsessing over how the email will look on a smartwatch, because wearables and mobile devices are all about notifications of information rather than the information itself.
It does mean marketers need to figure out their customers’ expectations and how they access and perceive information.
Wearables and other mobile devices by themselves will not fundamentally evolve the email industry. What will evolve the industry is how the consumer uses that information.
3) Marketers will catch up to mobile-first consumers.
We are squarely in the mobile-first age; maybe even mobile-only.
Google has said it would assign negative points for websites that aren’t developed for mobile viewing. The percentage of people checking their email on mobile will keep increasing, too.
For email marketers, the issue has gone beyond using responsive design for mobile readers. Developing metrics and KPIs for mobile is what’s important.
We’ll stop looking at email proofs on our desktop computers and look first on our phones to see how they render and behave.
The first-person marketer will look at how their customers consume information, not just if they did.
4) Global privacy comes to the forefront.
The “private right of action” clause in Canada’s anti-spam law goes into effect in July 2017. This allows individuals as well as government agencies to initiate complaints against companies.
Further, companies will start reviewing their data gathering and protection practices to make sure they comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, which goes into full effect in May 2018.
Here in the United States, we’re way behind the curve on privacy, although it’s a major concern for many consumers. The FTC is already rolling on privacy, and we might even see some action in Congress.
First-person marketers see the global privacy debate as important to the trust relationships they develop with their customers and subscribers.
First-person marketers will advocate for their customers’ rights and will work with their legal departments to make sure their companies not just comply with data protection and privacy but also make sure their actions meet the highest standards.
These first-person marketers will join organizations like the Email Sender and Provider Coalition to stay ahead of domestic and international privacy laws and regulations.
Predictions are fun, but, like elections, nobody really knows what new fad, trend, app or unicorn company will rise up over the others.
If you’re a first-person marketer, these predictions will guide what you should be focusing on. You don’t have to act on everything immediately. But, you do have to understand the effect on your customers.