We hear about email often and we have been living with email for a very long time now. With the technological changes around us, people are predicting that video email will be the next fad! In fact, Hotmail, Gmail, and YahooMail already allow YouTube video playback directly on their client, not to mention that Apple Mail and iOS mail have never restricted video playback (except Flash). There were even rumors about 3D emails and every now and then we hear different rumors on how email is taking a different shape and form.
Today I will try to provide bold predictions on what email will look like, and what we expect to see in terms of channels, technology, and data that will be available in the near future.
Viva La Email
Many have predicted email’s death, and this rumor has spread long enough since the advent of social media! In fact, people predicted that RSS would put it to sleep; the same was the case with MMS. All predictions were wrong.
Why is email still very much alive and kicking, you ask? Simply put, email is the “tissue layer” of the web, it is our unique identifier – call it our digital ID.
Recently, even Twitter started sending digests with the most important tweets from the people you are following. Twilert, for example, understood the importance of email notifications and created a business simply forwarding mentions of Twitter hashtags to people who wanted alerts. LinkedIn and Facebook will never ditch email notifications simply because they know that it’s the glue to keep their users coming back to the site over and over again.
The bottom line is this; email is here to stay. It is cheap, efficient, accessible, and widely spread. I do not see currently any other technology that can replace email and its use in the way we know it today.
Record shows that more and more people are opening and clicking emails on their mobile devices. Since mobile devices are becoming a huge part of our lives and have the highest penetration globally due to their relatively low costs compared to personal computers, we’ll see higher responses from recipients on mobile devices (smartphones and tablets). The increased traffic from mobile devices will come at the expense of desktops and laptops. In fact, mobile devices are known to be the exclusive device for going online in many emerging markets such as China and India.
In the near future, you will be able to automatically optimize your content to mobile, and would be able to decide even which content will be presented and how it will look like on mobile as opposed to the standard full view on a normal computer (responsive design). The view of the campaign will be able to automatically adjust itself according to the device you will be opening it in. I have written about the fundamentals of mobile email strategy in my last column.
Creating lifecycle campaigns and automatic responders is easy and available for some time in the market place.
By saying automation, I am referring to a truly automated way to look at campaigns and provide individual response in different channels according to the customer behavior, so manual campaigns and responses will almost disappear, and the manual work of marketers will be replaced by software that will automatically send the right message in the right channel to the right customer.
You can read more about lifecycle and automation here.
Most clients today would like to have a more holistic approach to marketing, where the ROI can be clearly measured, and answers to questions such as; “how much money do I spend on acquiring a new client, when does the cost of customer acquisition break even with revenue, how often do customers buy from me, and what is their lifetime value” could be found. Questions like these are fundamental in their nature to marketers, who strive to be more efficient with their efforts, and yield greater returns on their investment, while continuing to provide clients what they truly want and need. We will be seeing tools that will provide marketers with answers to these questions in a very visual and measurable way.
To be able to provide good and in-depth business intelligence to marketers, a lot, and I mean a lot of data will need to be collected and processed into actual information.
This is called big data, a term you have probably came across recently. Big data is defined by Expedia as “data sets so large and complex that they become awkward to work with using on-hand database management tools.”
Systems you will be working with will need to be able to store and process a lot of data in a very fast way, that in its turn will change into workable business intelligence, which will be used in the email campaigns that we know today to increase relevancy and automation.
That’s all for now, stay tuned for my next column.
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