Email marketing celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, and it continues to display its versatility as the primary digital channel for marketers.
In 2018, we witnessed the evolution of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies to create hyper-personalized content, predictive intelligence and content recommendation engines, email automations and tighter data protection legislation.
Email marketing evolved at a fast pace, requiring marketers to marry data and technology wisely to create relevant, targeted and unique conversations driving meaningful interactions between brands and their customers.
In 2019, marketers will have plenty of opportunity to enhance their email strategies. They will create smarter, more personalized emails to further refine one-to-one targeting at scale. Innovations in email design, interactive and dynamic inbox experiences, and accessibility will lead to untapped possibilities for brands to further engage with their customers.
Here are my predictions for email marketing trends in 2019.
Dynamic and Interactive Inbox Experiences
If 2018 foreshadowed how the inbox experience is changing, I believe 2019 will be the defining year, changing how subscribers interact with marketing emails.
The inbox will be transformed into mini, app-like experiences where consumers can shop, browse and buy products and services without leaving their inbox.
We saw evidence of this trend already with Google’s AMP for Email, live content and HTML5. In 2019, I predict sophisticated mailbox providers will embrace this trend to strengthen their relationships with their users by creating functionality, allowing brands to harness the power of graphics and images to market to consumers beyond the body of an email.
Outside of emojis, the inbox experience has been limited to a sender’s name and catchy subject line. I believe savvy marketers will adopt cutting-edge design technologies with native mailbox provider functionality to enrich the user experience with promotional emails that will boost engagement in ways never seen before.
Email Accessibility will Open Doors with Digital Assistant Devices
Believe it or not, accessibility is driving many pieces of technology influencing how consumers interact with brands, including in the email channel.
It is estimated that more than 1.3 billion people globally live with a visual impairment. That’s nearly 17% percent of the world’s population. I believe there will be a renewed focus on making emails more accessible so everyone can understand the message, regardless of their abilities.
Digital assistants such as Apple’s Siri and Amazon Alexa are redefining ways consumers can engage with email with their voice, and accessibility is influencing this rise in digital assistant devices.
I predict innovation in voice technologies and the rapid adoption of smart speaker devices such as Google Home, Amazon Echo, and others will create a new opportunity for marketers to engage with their audience on an auditory platform. Just imagine the possibilities for consumers to interact with emails, reply and even complete auditory call-to-actions — all by using their voice. “Hey Siri … please read my latest email,” followed by Siri responding after reading your email with “Would you like to purchase this product?”
Data Protection and Privacy Will Tighten
Improving security and strengthening trust in the email channel will continue to be a high priority for mailbox providers and legislation in 2019. This past year, the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set a new global standard on consumers’ rights in protection their personal data, and shortly after, California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (effective Jan. 1, 2020), which shared several similarities.
I also believe we will see more mailbox providers step up and strengthen their user data policies to further protect their users from potential inbox data breaches and limit third-party app access, following Google’s revised user data policy.
With great power comes great responsibility, and I predict in 2019 we will see stronger regulations and legislation forcing companies hosting personal data to become more transparent and trustworthy in the way they operate.
Predictions are always a lot of fun to write heading into the new year, but if I have learned anything over the years, emerging technologies and trends usually take many years for marketers to fully embrace.
2019 will be an exciting year for email marketing, and if any of these predictions come true, they will be an important milestone in the evolution of email as the most versatile channel in digital marketing.
250ok | Director of Product Marketing
With more than a decade of email experience, Anthony embraces educating and advising email marketers on the latest trends and insights within the email industry. As director of product marketing at 250ok, Anthony oversees launching new products and services through participating and influencing go-to-market strategies, supporting collateral and brand evangelism. Anthony is an active speaker in the email industry and serves as the Chair of the Events and Education Subcommittee for the Email Experience Council. Before joining 250ok, Anthony's prior roles included Marketing Practice Lead, Deliverability Services at Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and Senior Account Manager at Return Path.