Leap Ahead: Email Marketing In 2016

In honor of Leap Day tomorrow, let’s leap ahead four years to the year 2016. A lot has changed in the world of email marketing….

For one, inboxes are much more sophisticated. Priority viewing, auto-foldering, auto-categorizing and auto-deleting features are ubiquitous, which has made email frequency less of an issue for consumers—even with the major retailers now sending roughly 1 email a day to each of their subscribers on average. Viewing multiple email accounts at the same time and creating temporary email addresses are simple, which makes attribution considerably trickier in some cases.

The integration of Gmail, Google+ and Google Talk, especially when run on the dominant Android OS platform, spurred partnerships between Microsoft and Facebook and between Apple and Twitter. So inboxes are now a mix of email, social updates, voicemail and SMS.



All commercially available cellphones are now smartphones with email and Web-browsing capabilities. The ubiquity of smartphones has driven mobile email viewing up to 50%, with tablet and desktop viewing at roughly 25% each. Wearable devices proved to be a momentary fad that faded after a rash of auto and pedestrian accidents.

The advent of 5G wireless services and the WiFi 802.11ac standard has sped up wireless networks significantly, making email file sizes a relative non-issue. Network speeds got an extra boost when spam levels plunged to 1993 levels in the wake of the highly viral Cardiac.Arrest virus, which caused infected computers to massively overheat if they exhibited botnet behavior. The virus was responsible for 489 building fires in China alone.

Flexible and “fluid” email designs that adapt to any screen width and resolution are commonplace. “Live content” built on HTML 5 such as video, browseable content and real-time updated content are also fairly common. And when subscribers do have to click out of an email for more information, landing page continuity is much stronger because Webpages are also designed on flexible templates and because apps can act as landing pages since most apps are just HTML 5-based Web content.

Privacy is another area where changes have affected email marketers. Facebook going public was the catalyst for the “Do Not Track” browser functionality and a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, which was just the start of a wave of privacy legislation that led to the demise of and many other consumer information brokers.

For marketers, these changes have led to near-universal adoption of preference centers, which now function as both cross-channel subscription centers that handle opt-ins for email, social media and SMS, as well as profile editors that allow consumers to view and edit all of the personal information collected by a brand, regardless of the channel of origin. Despite the high level of brand transparency and consumer control, segmented and triggered emails make up the majority of commercial emails sent and generate the vast majority of email revenue.

Most retailers now offer free shipping with no minimum purchase year-round -- and since the passage of a national online sales tax, “no sales tax” has become a popular promotion. Online sales are now 9% of all retail sales.

Most routine bills and legal correspondence have been converted over to email delivery. Postal delivery is down to just 4 days a week.

4 comments about "Leap Ahead: Email Marketing In 2016".
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  1. Dave Hendricks from LiveIntent, February 28, 2012 at 11:32 a.m.

    Mostly agree but not aggressive enough Chad!

    HTML5 and Smartphones/Tablets should be the lead. 50% is low for both tablets and smartphones. We already see that percent within certain key segments.

    Interactive Ads with video etc. will be a big part of email. Location and context will have more to do with what is shown to a user than the old model - still in place now - of deciding what to show a user at the time of email send.

    Basically retailers and publishers will be pushing their sites and ads to the users, no longer will email be today's stale, old-data driven model.

    ESPs old campaign, one-size fits most model, as well as clumsy segmentation based on old data - all gone.

  2. Chad White from Litmus, February 28, 2012 at 12:03 p.m.

    Hi, Dave. Sorry if I wasn't clear but I'm predicting 50% smartphone readership, 25% tablet readership and 25% desktop readership for emails in 2016. For me, smartphones are "mobile" and tablets are not. Including both of those devices under the banner of mobile doesn't make any sense to me.

  3. Lisa Richardson from Central Bancompany, February 28, 2012 at 5:25 p.m.

    Chad, you mentioned "near-universal" adoption of preference centers, serving as both cross-channel subscription areas and profile editors. Do you have any examples of companies who are doing a nice job of bringing this together for their customers?

  4. Chad White from Litmus, February 29, 2012 at 1:39 p.m.

    Lisa, I'm not aware of any brands that are revealing to subscribers what they're tracking about them. But there are some brands like the Gap Inc. brands and Best Buy are do a good job of allowing subscribers to indicate their interests to increase the relevancy of emails sent to them. I haven't done an extensive look at preference centers in a while so I'm sure there are many other brands that are doing a good job of collecting explicit preferences.

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