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What’s the Next Big Thing in Email Marketing? EEC16 Recap

April 6, 2016
By Phil Davis

Next_Big_Thing_in_Email_Marketing.jpgThere are two things I learned at the 2016 Email Evolution Conference last week: First, there’s no such thing as a bad meal in New Orleans. (OK, I’ve known that for awhile.) Second, the next big trend in email marketing is building tools to make all the previously predicted big email marketing trends a reality—and making currently existing tools easier to use.

For the past few years, the industry has been buzzing about personalization, multi-channel campaigns, connecting the dots between display advertising and email and using behavioral data to create better customer experiences. We all knew we wanted to do these things, and we all had innovative strategies built our in our minds. There was just one things we didn’t yet have: easy-to-use technology to make it happen—at least, not to the extent we needed.

So, this year’s EEC was all about making those formerly impractical email dreams a feasible reality. Here’s the lowdown:

Making Data Work Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger

We all talk about one-to-one marketing, but how many of us are actually making it happen? Reaching prospects at the right time, place and platform to elicit engagement has never been easy—and if it was, we’d all be drowning in leads. It takes experience, strategy and, most of all, technology fueled by good data.

From the triggered message that reaches a subscriber's inbox at just the right moment after an interaction to the display ad that shows up on a prospect’s most frequented social media network shortly after they began searching for the product you offer, data makes marketing wins possible.

The combination of more intuitive and intelligent tools along with better data means omni-channel marketing, dynamic content, mobile-centric communications and other previously hyped trends are no longer just tactics used by big corporations—they’re within reach regardless of your organization’s size or budget.

In short, the tools are only getting better and easier to use, but to really make your marketing succeed you have to keep feeding the machine with the right data.

Storytelling is (Still) Here to Stay

There was a glaring commonality I noticed between the morning keynote speakers: Kara Swisher, co-founder of Re/Code, and Kelly McEvers of NPR are both professional storytellers. And while these speakers covered very different topics, the trend was evident. Storytelling in marketing isn’t going anywhere.

For so long, marketers used email as a bullhorn to scream “Sale!” “Coupon!” “Buy my stuff!” And while the end-goal was to grab attention, the industry quickly noticed this strategy was having adverse effects. We discovered consumers don’t want to be sold, they want to be engaged, entertained and understood. So whether it’s a six second Vine or a 20 minute YouTube video, telling stories in your email—and across all marketing channels—is the best way to get your prospects’ attention.

And, of course, you can’t tell a great story without data either.

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