Four Predictions For Email Marketing In 2020

The email channel will evolve more in the next four years than it has at any point in its history. To illustrate why, here are four predictions for the not-so-distant future of email marketing.

Four Predictions For Email Marketing In 2020

When you think of innovation, email may not be the first thing to come to mind. But the truth is that emails are not immune to that cocktail of factors—including changing consumer habits, data and privacy developments, and information overload—disrupting even decades-old ways of doing business in established industries.

Similar to what we’ll see in other digital spheres, I believe the email channel will evolve more in the next four years than it has at any point in its history. To illustrate why, here are four predictions for the not-so-distant future of email marketing.

1. A Technology For Millennials

As it has been for other traditional forms of communication and business, the Millennial generation will be a significant driving force in evolving email. Specifically, Millennials will force email to become more real time.

For a generation raised on Facebook and, more recently, Snapchat, the best and most efficient kind of content is the kind that matters most in the moment. That means we’ll be seeing less of long, involved messages and more of concise, instantly consumable content.

Truthfully, technical barriers have prevented email marketers from chasing this trend, but in the next several years we will finally see updated technology from inbox providers like Microsoft and Google allowing big leaps forward. The introduction of HTML5 support is just one example of this rising tide.

To survive and thrive in the years to come, email technology will become a technology worthy of Millennials’ attention.

2. Increased Data Privacy

Speaking of Millennials, some have the perception that this digitally-savvy generation has no expectation of privacy. And yet, globally we’re seeing increased cries for privacy and new rules to make sure businesses adhere to privacy regulations across communications channels. As technology grows more powerful and pervasive in the coming years, increased demand for privacy will only get louder.

Europe has persistently led the way through the European Commission’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a proposal currently in the making to support individuals’ data protection. Similarly—and even more pertinent to email marketers—is Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation, which governs all electronic messages (e.g. emails, texts) sent by businesses to individuals.

With new technology emerging almost by the hour and governments typically slow to respond, it will admittedly take some time before we see a global, critical mass of data protection. But it’s coming. And this means that marketers will have to think more carefully about what information we have access to and what kind of permissions we have. In short, it means more transparency.

3. Information Overload

The point above shouldn’t be taken to mean that there will be a dearth of data. On the contrary, data protection laws will barely stem the tide of data available to marketers. Looking at newly emerging technologies like wearables and other products supporting the Internet of Things (IoT), this appears obvious.

At some point, both consumers and businesses will feel overwhelmed by the vast quantity of data being produced. So while crying out for better data protection, consumers will also increasingly demand more power over how their data is used.

Today, preference centers see high adoption in early stages, with lower adoption further out. In the next few years, I see the email industry boosting adoption of the preference center in its later stages because it will be in the consumer’s best interest to define what’s relevant to them. It’s on marketers to evolve our preference centers to make this happen, and that means giving more control to the consumer.

4. Sophisticated Tools

As marketers continue to familiarize themselves with data protection requirements, while also paring down the mountain of available customer data, we will increasingly see more sophisticated uses of data.

Expect new capabilities and technologies to expand what we can do with data, as email plays catch-up with the data-rich environments already enjoyed by other digital marketing channels. And, returning to the first point about Millennials, more data-rich offerings will help email marketers bring their offerings in alignment with what consumers expect from business communications today.

While change doesn’t happen overnight, it’s clear that the email channel has never been closer to undergoing a massive shift that will help make it look and feel like a technology designed for use in 2020, not 1990. In other words, it’s going to be innovative and relevant.

See what the Twitterverse is saying about email marketing: