Is Email Marketing Evolving or Getting Reshaped?

May 11, 2017


For the past few years, email marketing best practices are filled with controversy. Is email the best channel to reach out and communicate effectively with customers? Does it help them to stay engaged? And how can marketers use email to best optimize their revenue stream? Is email the right digital marketing solution for these omni-channel times, or is the email marketing era coming to an end?

These are age-old questions considered by every digital marketing department as they seek to understand consumer behavior, and tune and connect customers with the proper digital channel. Email is one of the least costly channels, but because of that, it is difficult to understand where and how its successes, and where it doesn’t. Unfortunately, most email strategies end up bombarding consumers, which results in consumer disengagement. With the email channel getting exhausted, over-used, and rendered ineffective, digital marketers often try to switch the strategy toward social channel as a default course of action.

How can email marketing leverage digital strategy?

Here are five by five predictions I have learned from Allen Nance, CMO at Emarsy Evolution Roadshow. “Do you hear me?”, this five by five technique enables to check the transmission signal strength in communication. Do you believe your emails are transmitting the right messages to get the right level of engagement?

Here are Allen Nance’s five by five predictions:

  1. Stop thinking about selling.
  2. Emails are going to become more transactional than promotional.
  3. Personalization isn’t a requirement, it’s a necessity.
  4. Smartphones are “devices”.
  5. Artificial Intelligence/machine learning is the next solution.

Let’s break down the key points from the roadshow:


Firstly, there are still too many companies that send email blasts to their consumers. Even large audiences will lose a percentage of customers with a “batch and blast.” Stop treating your emails as a sell pitch! To help resolve this issue, many brands are using a customer data platform to gain a single view of the customer, apply machine learning to predict behaviors, and better segment their emails and channel communication.

Let's review another interesting use case: the dilemma between email security and customer journey. Most email providers refuse to upgrade their usability features (to improve customer journey), to apply the Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) security which prevents emails from getting hacked. An innovative company, Rebelmail, is reshaping the protocol to enable companies to send interactive emails, where customers could purchase products directly within the emails. This is a tremendous progress in the shopping experience (since customers do not need to click on the email to go on the website) and should have a strong impact on conversion rates, while keeping emails secure.

Third, marketers need to understand that their customers don’t think and act alike.

Personalizations is a must have, but it requires a deep understanding of the behavior. AgilOne gives marketers a single customer view and enables orchestrated engagement across different channels, so that personalization can be consistent, relevant, and contextualized to each individual. Data come from multiple sources. It is either well managed and collected or, it is a disjointed system that’s piling information from those multiple sources. AgilOne integrates, cleanses, dedupes, and enriches data from those multiple sources into one 360 degrees profile. As a result, we give you the ability to truly speak one voice toward each individual.

And the fourth tip: Smartphones have a reshaped purpose. Beyond a phone being a phone, smartphones are most intimate distribution channels. According to comScore,  m-commerce spending on smartphones increased by 45% for retails in Q4 2016 (YoY). It’s imperative for any company to have a mobile responsive design, to growth your mobile revenue stream. 

Finally, the rise of Artifical Intelligence (AI) and machine learning in digital marketing is gaining momentum. Can AI help your ROI grow? Yes, if your data is clean and if you can perform true 1:1 marketing. For instance, most of the digital departments send one specific campaign at the same time for all their target list. They analyze the open rate and other email KPIs without taking into account the consumer lifestyle. AI shall enable to predict the best timing to send an email for each consumer by looking at their past behavior (emails opened, clicked through, converted from...) in a more customer-centric email program. 

Allen closed the roadshow with this ironic quote: “Let me use my magical AI bottle and let's spray some AI over to fix some of the marketing issues”

As I mentioned before, customers need to feel less oppressed by emails. Aslo, emails should be more impactful with a concise and personalized message. Also, smartphones are a daily part of your consumers’ lives, and it’s important to convert your user experience into mobile friendly one. Data is spread across multiple channels, so it’s hard for Digital Marketing departments to humanely track and personalize each message for each individual; AI enables to scale personalization.

*cover image credit to hubspot