5 Key Changes in the Last Decade

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A US mailbox painted bright pink and and mounted on a thick horizontal post.

The essentials

  • Omnichannel integration. Email marketing is more connected to other channels, allowing for better personalization and targeted messaging.
  • Introducing AI and ML. Artificial intelligence and machine learning are increasingly playing an important role in optimizing various aspects of email marketing.
  • embrace the change. Adapting to new technologies and regulations will only strengthen email marketing and lead to more opportunities for building relationships with consumers.

Whenever I see someone complaining that email marketing is old and hasn’t changed in decades, it just confirms to me that they know nothing about email marketing. The truth is that email marketing has already seen tremendous changes in the last 10 years.

This was especially important to me personally as last month marked the 10th anniversary of the publication of the first edition of my book, Email Marketing Rules. For this reason I published one updated and greatly expanded 4th editionwhich includes a foreword listing eleven major changes that have taken place since 2013.

Here I want to focus on five of those changes:

1. CASL, GDPR and CCPA are all in effect

Privacy and anti-spam laws have made tremendous strides in the last decade, pushing marketers to do so Respect the permission and handle your data responsibly – or there are severe penalties. Although there have been protests against CASL and the GDPR in particular, the impact on email and digital marketing performance has been relatively minor, while branding behavior across these channels has been cleaned up significantly.

Of course, the US has been slow to step up consumer protections along with Canada, Europe and other countries. However, the eventual replacement of the CAN-SPAM law of 2003 is only a matter of time. This is because the passing of the CCPA in California provided the impetus for the passing or drafting of the CCPA Data protection laws in numerous other states.

Compliance with this ever-expanding patchwork of state laws will eventually become so arduous for businesses that both Democrats and Republicans in Congress will be sufficiently motivated to pass a modern national privacy and anti-spam law — so be it American Privacy Act bill or something else.

It won’t happen soon enough, but it will happen.

Related article: 5 ways to make your marketing emails more personal — without personalization

2. Privacy features introduced by Apple and others

It’s tempting to see Mail Privacy Protection filling the privacy gap left by a deadlock in Congress – and that may be true to a degree. However, I see MPP more as part of Apple’s effort to polish its image as a privacy advocate at the same time builds his advertising business at the expense of Google, Facebook, Snap and others.

Whether you’re skeptical like me or see Apple’s motivations as pure, the impact of MPP on email marketers is undeniable. Even now, more than a year after the launch of MPP, marketers are still struggling with the impact on email analytics, deliverability and design Oracle surveys show that most brands have survived the worst of the impact. However, it will likely take many years for the industry to really get used to MPP.

3. Cross-channel customer data can be centralized in CDPs

As an industry, we were talking about creating a 360-degree view of our customers well before the first edition of my book was published in 2013. But with the advent of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) in recent years, we’re finally able to not only create a holistic view of our customers’ behavior, but also use that data to email and email our customers better served through our other channels.

This is an exciting innovation that unsilos email marketing – in fact, unsilos every marketing channel. This innovation is in the early stages of adoption and maturation Omnichannel marketing and orchestration.

Related article: 6 ways to review and improve your automated marketing emails

4. Orchestration of emails with other channels has become much more common

Only the most sophisticated marketers leverage behaviors and insights from one channel to help personalize, segment, and automate messages in their other channels. While this is the long-term vision for omnichannel orchestration, brands can benefit greatly from low- and no-tech omnichannel synergies. These synergies include:

  • Using one channel to build another channel’s audience.
  • Share the content of the top-performing campaigns in a channel with other channel leaders so they can use that content directly or indirectly.
  • Using faster, cheaper, and more measurable channels to explicitly test content to be used in future campaigns in slower, more expensive, and less measurable channels.
  • Coordinating content and delivery of campaigns across all channels to create a critical mass of messages to capture more attention and drive action.

These are all ways to provide better customer experiences, regardless of the channel used.

5. AI and ML have gained prominence in email marketing

Also, just in the last decade, artificial intelligence and machine learning have gained a significant role in audience selection, email content determination, sending time selection, copywriting and more. However, it is still very early days for these technologies, they are at best in the infancy of their development.

For example the most recent Email Marketing Trends SurveyOur consultants assume that AI-powered product and content recommendations, as well as AI-powered subject line and copy creation tools, have below-average adoption but above-average impact. They also believe that ML-driven airtime optimization is having an above-average impact, although the solution has been around long enough for it to be well-received.

While all five of these changes have already impacted email marketing, they are part of trends that will continue to impact marketers for years to come. While some of these present challenges, they are positive for our industry as a whole and open up many opportunities to strengthen our relationships with consumers.

I encourage you to embrace these changes, as well as the changes that are just over the horizon. Like all of these changes, future changes will only make email marketing stronger.

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