While shopping is up, so is the amount of email big brands are sending. We've seen a 40% increase in volume across the largest brands -- not just more email, but increased use of segmentation, creative testing, custom-date driven promotions and auto responder programs. In order to keep up with this pace in 2011, marketers and providers will be forced to:
Simplify segmentation. That doesn't mean less segmentation, it means creating smarter uses of segmentation that identify predictable responses. Marketers will seek to model behavioral segmentation that is predictable to stages in the lifecycle and helps accelerate the conversion path -- smarter segmentation that identifies "share " and "response" value rather than purely transactional value.
Plan targeting better (a business rule, not a reaction). While many consider email targeting and personalization to be static, technologies are advancing that will challenge the pace at which you can evolve business rules. Targeting will take on new meaning as you align email to the Web, the Web to mobile Web and the bridge from mobile apps. The personalized experience will transcend single channel to blended experience. Email marketers will generate more value in bridging this personalized experience. The "Active" views of the inbox being tested and rolled out with the major ISPs should help shift this experience , but connecting the personalized experience will the key to success and growth in 2011.
Identify the real "social" customer. We talk a lot about the influencer, but I believe there are several ways our customer socially connects with us -- ways we will strive to identify more concretely in 2011. The connector has high reach and a regular cadence, yet that means very little to a brand alone. The advocate is the consumer who produces some content on various topics. Advocacy can be interpreted the same way "loyalty" can, for or against a brand or cause. Advocacy alone does not make you an influencer or valuable to a brand. Influencers are advocates WITH influence within their network and others. These are the highly coveted consumers who are early adopters, trend setters and have a high connective value. The last leg of the social hierarchy to me is the evangelist. This is an influencer with initiative. This segment will take your content and curate it, develop attitudes and opinions with great reach. These are the segments you build apps and experiences around with an open-ended mindset. All of these segments will be hard to "flag" in the social and traditional segmentation world. As our knowledge of engagement and social channels matures, it won't be that far of a stretch to shift this thinking from how we apply content, process, value and experiences.
2011 is going to be an amazing year on all fronts. The email experience will be different, the site experience will be connected, the app experience will be pervasive and the social consumer is going to be easier to connect with, yet harder to engage.