As a New Year rolls in, it’s a perfect time to look at the key trends and predictions experts have offered for email marketing in 2013. A good number of prognosticators point to more refined targeting, personalization, mobile marketing, social media, and integrated channel marketing as key directions in the coming year.
John Bonini of Impact believes email marketing will generate more sales-ready leads by becoming more personalized, relevant, and targeted, based on real-time data. “The ability to segment email lists and personalize the content will help to maximize the effect of each email, resulting in more qualified leads,” said Bonini.
Mike May of Email Insider agrees, arguing that email marketers’ objective for 2013 should not be to send more messages to more people, but to send more accurate messages to the right people. Marketers, says May, should focus on increasingly smaller segments that allow more targeted messages and increased relevance.
Of like mind is Mike Hotz of Responsys, who sees delivering relevant content, aided by behavioral tracking, as a main objective for marketers to pursue. Hotz advises tracking behavioral traits such as clicks in emails, website browsing habits, and intelligence gleaned from discussions with sales representatives, and to use this data to segment your list and drive follow-up messaging.
Harnessing big data to personalize emails is a trend that a number of marketers see growing in 2013. With the amount of consumer data at marketers’ fingertips, says Pardot’s Jenna Hanington, citing Agency JWT’s annual trends report, it’s becoming increasingly more possible to predict the needs, wants, and behaviors of consumers. Personalization of marketing messages will not only become easier, but will be expected,” says Hanington.
Chris Horton of SyneCore Technologies sees a democratization of big data occurring, with the fruits of big data filtering down to SMBs. “With ad retargeting, predictive recommendations, and location-based social and mobile marketing, small businesses will be able to employ sophisticated marketing tactics in a cost-effective manner.”
Kristina Huffman of ExactTarget sees email marketing undergoing a transformation in which the traditional static, print-inspired email will die. Huffman sees more personalized emails that will not look the same in every email client, with content and design being tailored to individual subscribers.
Similarly, Audrey Howes sees an increased movement to visualization, and encourages marketers to make their content stand out by adding graphical elements-including photos, images, infographics, and videos. “Adding visual aids will add impact and share-worthiness to your emails, social posts, and other marketing efforts,” says Howes.
Integration of email with other channels is seen as a continuing trend. Chris Horton sees 2013 as the year of integrated digital marketing, arguing that “businesses great and small will have to integrate social media into their web, email, and mobile marketing initiatives.”
Jade Tanner of Pure360 sees more integration of offline and online channels ahead, such as print magazines being supplemented by additional exclusive online content, including email alerts and notifications. “Offline and online channels will no longer be treated separately – they are quickly becoming more of a partnership to provide a greater offering for customers.”
Tanner is among the many marketers who see mobile marketing growing in importance, citing statistics that show that sales transactions on mobile devices grew from 19% in 2011 to 34% in 2012, with the number projected to climb above 50% in 2013. Thus, says Tanner, marketers need to think about how to encourage quick conversions via mobiles and tablets, such as device-only vouchers or offers using QR codes embedded in emails.
Constant Contact also sees mobile going mainstream, particularly for small businesses. With consumer use of smartphones continually rising, says Constant Contact, it will become easier for small businesses to target specific, local customers. “The focus on location-based marketing is closely tied to mobile, so expect to see more small businesses using this to target customers and attract new ones.”
Not all predictions are completely rosy. Mike May sees deliverability becoming increasingly more difficult as ISPs and end users filter emails more aggressively. “Marketers will need to move past permission and even attention all the way to anticipation in order to continue to thrive in a managed inbox,” says May. “Those that don’t may find that filtering does not just suppress their engagement metrics, but cuts them off at the knees.”
Email hygiene is one way to help deliverability, which Sarah Zibanejadrad of WhatCounts offers as one of three resolutions she believes marketers should embrace to improve email marketing in 2013. Make emails mobile friendly, focus on the customer, and keep email lists clean, says Zibanejadrad, adding that, “Good list hygiene will automatically improve your metrics and greatly improve deliverability, so why aren’t you doing so already?”