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 Data.com 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.