There has been a great deal of movement in the email space, with marketing stacks buying up most of the market share leaders defined by email service providers (ESPs): over $5 billion in acquisitions in the last four years. And a crop of new entrants and independent companies are expanding and pivoting to match a broader set of needs defined by marketers.
Email marketing has taken a new form, “contextual marketing” or “journeys,” versus mail merge batch and blast.
Journeys conveys a few key principles:
The need to build unique cross-channel experiences is helping shape how marketers think about real-time, devices and how they fund these developments
The need to be highly personalized has become vital to maximizing earned and owned media.
With more programs in place and more complexities, we’ve evolved how we talk about machine
learning, algorithms, models, recommendations and triggers.
Lofty goals, right? When something isn’t defined well, it tends to define itself. Jordan Cohen of Fluent produced the second version of the Email Marketing Landscape, which is a Lumascape-like view of the industry. It’s a crowd-sourced version that I feel is a nice evolution of what’s happening and how you should be looking at the industry. Some may question its accuracy, yet it’s impossible to list 1000+ global vendors in a consumable way, What I will say is this landscape has morphed pretty dramatically from what we saw 10 years ago.
This view shows some of the emerging dynamics from not just front of and back of the funnel, but how marketers are using technologies that evolved from email to extend email. Here’s how I would sum up this view:
— Advertising and email are getting closer. Your email address is more than something to send an email to — it is the primary key for virtually everything you do
— Smart content has gotten smarter, and doing it real-time and at scale isn’t nearly the challenge it used to be.
— It’s now a priority to automate as much as possible and maximize triggered behaviors. This follows a maturity model where trust in machines’ ability to optimize has evolved.
— Companies are putting a priority on their audiences, not latent views of data that is 2-7 days old.
— Mobile is still dominating the experience, traffic is up, email viewership is up — and all of are creating new “contexts” for how you engage and interpret an impression, click and shopping.
So many options for the marketer and innovator. I see tremendous growth in our space over the next five years. It’s a healthy time for all involved. Embrace the options and go bend lasers.