How Email Marketing Has Changed

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How Email Marketing Has Changed


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I celebrated the 10th anniversary of the first edition of my book, Email Marketing Ruleslast month by releasing a updated and greatly expanded fourth edition.

Here are some statistics:

  • The fourth edition has 53% more must-follow and recommended rules (184 vs. 120).
  • The fourth edition glossary has 143% more terms (282 vs. 116).
  • The fourth edition is more than three times longer (677 pages versus 214) and divided into two volumes – one focuses on the 184 rules and the other focuses on strategic frameworks and checklists.

This begs the question: has email marketing gotten 50% more difficult? Or, heaven forbid, 200% harder?

Fortunately, the answer to this second question is clear NO. However, the answer to the first question is absolutely yes.

Although it makes a big contribution to the growth of Email Marketing Rules While I’ve simply learned more about email marketing from issue to issue and wanted to broaden the scope of the best practices and strategies I’ve covered, it’s also true that email marketing has become more complex over the past decade.

In fact, I begin the fourth edition with a foreword listing all the changes that have been made since the publication of the first edition:

  • CASL, GDPR and CCPA have all come into effect
  • E-mails can be read on smartwatches or read aloud by language assistants
  • Tabbed inboxes were introduced by Google, Microsoft, and others
  • Marketers have gained the ability to create interactive emails using CSS and AMP for email
  • A schema can be used to create rich preview content
  • Email can be designed using a modular architecture
  • Dark mode is an option in most inboxes
  • Privacy features were introduced by Apple and others
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have gained prominence in targeting, determining email content, choosing send times, writing, and more
  • Orchestrating emails with other channels has become much easier and has become increasingly important in delivering great results customer experienceS
  • Cross-channel customer data can be centralized in customer data platforms (CDPs) and other systems

That’s a lot of change! And honestly, most of it has happened since the release of the third edition in 2017. More importantly, many of these changes are still evolving — meaning we’re still adapting to them.

The urge to resist change

Change is hard. And it’s natural not to want to change. In fact, I accidentally wrote several of my MarketingProfs columns about this very hesitation:

The underlying message of all these articles is…

Changes have already been made

The behavior and expectations of subscribers and inbox providers have already changed and will continue to evolve. The question remains how well brands will adapt to these changes.

If you adapt poorly, these changes will negatively impact your email marketing performance and customer satisfaction. That’s the kind of change no company wants.

But let’s face it: even if you adapt well, you’re still likely to fall short of consumer expectations. That’s only natural. We are always looking for our audience. But that doesn’t mean we have to react.

Coming Changes: The Future of Email Marketing

When I think about the future of email marketing, I think about how far we are from reaching the marketing paradigm of getting the right message to the right person at the right time (through the right channel). to send.

Looking back at the 11 changes I mentioned earlier in the foreword of the latest edition of my book, it is the last three that will help us achieve this paradigm for years to come:

  1. AI and machine learning will help us scale our personalization, segmentation, and automation efforts like we’ve never been able to before.
  2. Omnichannel orchestration will not only help us to better coordinate campaigns across all our channels, but also leverage the right channels and integrate data from all of our clients’ brand interactions.
  3. CDP’s will help us centralize and cleanse all of our customer information so we can understand customers as whole people and use that data to drive our AI, machine learning, omnichannel and other efforts.

It’s an exciting time to be an email marketer. We have great opportunities ahead of us to better serve our subscribers and improve our performance.

Will it be easy? No. However, it will be a difficult task that is intellectually and creatively rewarding and exciting to be a part of. It will also be a challenge that turns many email marketers into marketing directors and chief marketing officers.

Let’s all embrace the continuous evolution of email marketing.

More resources on transforming email marketing

More meaningful metrics: Four tips for marketers after the Apple iOS 15 privacy updates

Eight alternatives to open-triggered email sequences in the age of email privacy

The impact of the pandemic on marketers’ email strategies

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