5 Ways Email Will Evolve In 2017

There’s been quite a bit of transformation for email in recent years. Technological advancements like HTML5 and the ESPs and marketing clouds vastly advancing their solutions have brought forth a wave of exciting changes for our beloved channel. Here are five important changes to watch for in 2017:

The journey will become a crucial focus. The industry has been talking about customer journeys for years, yet many companies haven’t gone beyond a basic welcome, abandoned cart or reactivation program — which are very brand-focused.  In 2017, brands will better understand every part of the consumer experience, from in-store behaviors to online behaviors — and not just for email purposes. Customer experience will be the single most important attribute that brands live or die by, and your role as an email marketer will be to develop programs that touch various parts of a consumer’s journey with your brand. It’ll be all about giving the consumer what (s)he wants speaking to him/her in a way that is helpful — and less about pushing products.



Reporting will begin to shift from campaigns to consumers. The deeper development of customer journeys will bring a change in how marketing efforts are evaluated. Instead of simply looking at how campaigns and programs perform, brands will begin looking at how their orchestration efforts across channels have an effect on individual customers. LTV and return on initial acquisition effort will be better understood by more than just the bigger brands with a heavy staff of data scientists.

Delivering to messaging apps will become apart of an email marketer’s job. Late 2015 and 2016 was a time for pioneers of messaging apps.  Brands like Zulily were early adopters of using messaging apps in an automated way. In 2017 we’ll see more brands leveraging this new inbox opportunity to send hyper-focused, opt-in promotional messages and service notifications like order and shipping confirmations. And as direct marketing experts, email marketers will be tasked with developing the strategy and executing these programs –– similar to what has happened with SMS and targeted push messages.

Shared IPs will become more prevalent. In the U.S., shared IPs have traditionally been used by small businesses and nonprofits through free or very inexpensive email service providers.  In 2017, we may start seeing major email service providers/marketing clouds offering a shared IP option to clients of all sizes.  There have been major changes in recent years in how reputation is established, so dedicated IPs aren’t as critical as they once were. As a result, we’ll see more marketers embracing a cost-effective option with using a well-managed, shared IP.

We’ll see leaders test in-email conversion buttons. Companies like Stripe have made it possible to load your product catalog into the Stripe platform and implement one-click conversion in channels like Twitter.  Given that email is a universal app with a lot of flexibility, this technology is ripe for someone to implement it.  I feel fairly confident that 2017 will be the year that we see a major brand or two testing one-click buying straight from email, thus changing the way people engage with email. What brand will be the first to try this?  I can’t wait to see it hit my inbox.

What predictions do you have for the inbox in 2017? If you have any thoughts, let me know in the comments. Happy new year!



2 comments about "5 Ways Email Will Evolve In 2017".
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  1. George Bilbrey from, December 29, 2016 at 11:14 a.m.


    Great article.    I am particularly in agreement that reporting needs to shift from campaigns to consumers.  

    With regard to you point on shared IPs, I think that there is a common misperception that mailbox providers have replaced IP reputation with domain-based reputation. The available data would indicate that this isn't the case.  The IP reptuation still remains important as before and domain reputation has been added on top of the domain reputation - for those mailbox providers that have invested in domain reputation - all of them haven't.    A good domain reputation can partially override a bad IP reputation but if another tennant of that IP address starts to hit a lot of spam traps or drive a lot of complaints, it may have a negative impact on a marketer's inbox placement.

    If a marketer is considering moving to a shared IP space, make sure you understand what the ESP is doing to police the shared IP space and what policies they have in place when one of their marketers starts to drive poor reputation.  If you want to be sure that *you* (the marketer) have control of your deliverability, it still makes sense to ask for dedicated IP addresses.

  2. Randall Tinfow from CLICK-VIDEO LLC, January 3, 2017 at 10:34 a.m.

    Over the holidays low bandwidth (<500k) animated gifs lifted CTR by 19% over static images. This will become standard practice for emails linking to marketing video.  

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