Email Marketing in 2020: Plenty of Waves of Disruption >

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Email will continue to sit in the middle of the marketing cloud and be the hub of the consumer digital experience—it’s just going to look different and evolve.

While emerging messaging channels will come and go and occupy dominant niche channels (think SnapChat and YikYak), email will be the old battle axe that won’t go away. As long as permission is the centerpiece of the email marketing value proposition and consumers and businesses crave discounts and exclusive content, email will successfully fight for screen time and wallet share.

Subscribers will likely toggle between messaging, social networks and email inboxes to find the best offer or most recent news from their favorite brands. With digital consumers’ attention spans shrinking, poor email marketers will finally begin to suffer a just fate. No longer will email work “just because.” Only smart, innovative, and highly dynamic emails will drive interaction, and generic blasts will get weeded out of the subscribers’ priorities if not outright emotionally junked.

The little things will continue to matter as subject lines and preheaders have a huge impact on the emotional pull between the read or delete conundrum. Marketers that ignore the strategic and highly tactical will face grave inbox peril.

The renaissance of email creative will continue, with added emphasis on making emails stand out from each other and from other messaging channels. A well-crafted email will continue to raise a brand’s perception and get better response, especially on mobile and tablets.

Expect the inbox to continue to morph into a more dynamic environment mirroring the web. Great tools and innovations will move email from a static, “been there, sent that” state to a highly customized message that can adapt based on marketing and subscriber elements. Think images that change based on the time of day the email is opened, relevant video based on your preferences, and interactive features like the email carrousel we used in our holiday email to subscribers.

As for what the email marketing vendor landscape will look like in 2020, there will be three categories of companies. The first will be the dominant technology providers, which largely consist of the major cloud providers: Salesforce.com, IBM, and Oracle. The second will be independent companies that fit into the “make email better” category. Some of these have been around a while—such as ReturnPath or my agency, BrightWave—and some are newer to the space and have raised considerable capital—for example, LiveIntent, Movable Ink, and Litmus. The last category is companies that don’t exist today but will be a hybrid of “make email better” combined with “make email different.” I can’t wait to see what this last category looks like.

This piece appears in the new Litmus report, “Email Marketing in 2020,” alongside expert predictions from 19 other industry leaders. Download the full report here.  

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