5 Trends That Will Rock E-mail Marketing
Let's face it: E-mail marketing has lost some of its sizzle. Maybe it's because the channel has matured. Or maybe it's because industry pundits continue to repeat the same messages — relevance, deliverability and integration.
Frankly, there's little else to say, and we all know what we need to do. The truth is, marketers will only change when e-mail is no longer profitable and frustrated consumers stop responding.
In fact, it's already happening. Today, more than 80 percent of recipients ignore your messages. What's more, 50 percent of a typical housefile may be inactive. While service and trigger messaging remain bright spots, consumers increasingly ignore marketers' frequent promotional pitches. Most messaging is out of sync with the purchase process.
At the same time, however, consumers are taking greater control of their brand interactions. And instead of turning to brands for advice about the things they need, they're turning to each other. Add this to the fact that there's been very little inbox innovation over the last 15 years, and you can see how e-mail is long overdue for a makeover.
The good news is that e-mail marketing is entering a new phase. Here are five trends that'll help define the future of e-mail:
1. E-mail 2.0. Social networks have made context and structure for peer-to-peer communications mainstream. Companies like Facebook and LinkedIn have used semantics to create incredible online experiences. Services like Xobni and Yahoo Mail 2.0 will make e-mail more social and let users control the messages they see first. Marketers will take a back seat initially, but a semantic experience will eventually enhance all types of e-mail communications.
2. It's the experience, stupid. Frustration has driven the average consumer to maintain multiple e-mail addresses to manage various interactions. Look for new aggregation tools that consolidate addresses and reinvent the user experience. The result will open new creative and rendering opportunities that'll enhance the user experience and drive marketing results.
3. The international explosion. As mobile communications take root, Europe and Asia will surpass the U.S. as the world's innovation and messaging capitals. To stay ahead, marketers should create cross-border teams and share knowledge with their international counterparts.
4. Industry disruption. Vendor innovation will continue to slow, and functionality will vary little across providers. Mounting cost-per-thousand pressures will render e-mail a commodity. Consolidation will continue, as smaller providers become stretched and bigger senders seek alternatives. Some providers may even sell or shut down unsuccessful e-mail offerings. Marketers should carefully manage vendor choices, contracts and relationships.
5. E-mail goes in-house. Marketers will continue to build their in-house teams. As the channel matures and expertise grows, so will the desire for more control. Combined with cost, security and data reconciliation advantages, in-house solutions will be aggressively pursued.
Welcome to e-mail 2.0 and beyond. Marketers who watch, listen and adapt will be well-positioned to flourish for many years to come.
Michael Della Penna is co-founder and president of Aiti Solutions LLC, a New York City-based firm whose interactive communications and social networking platform is in startup mode. Reach Michael at email@example.com.