Another year has flown by and brought with it plenty of changes to digital marketing. As you and your company get ready to head into the holiday season, you’ll probably start evaluating your marketing strategy for 2019, too.
In order to keep you ahead of the game in the upcoming year, we’re sharing our top 4 predictions for what’s going to become integral to the success of marketing. Spoiler alert: Email marketing will continue to be the foundation of your marketing strategy in 2019.
Studies show that the number of people using ad blockers will keep growing, meaning ads will be less and less effective. Between that and the growing mistrust of social media, consumers will seek direct relationships with brands through mediums that remain untarnished and unimpeded by pay-to-play strategies.
Looking at the ways the digital marketing landscape will shift in 2019, email marketing will be one of the most cost-efficient ways to incorporate the changing trends, leading to better engagement and more revenue for your company.
Why email marketing?
Amidst constantly emerging technologies, email isn’t very exciting and it’s easy for marketers to get lured away to newer platforms. But channels that once allegedly threatened the prosperity of email marketing now find their popularity fading.
What does this mean for you? 2019 will see a resurgence of email marketing as consumers seek meaningful, authentic connections with brands they trust.
Growing mistrust of social media
One marketing channel that gets a lot of attention—and precious budgeting dollars—is social media, but studies show that consumers’ trust in the channel is fading: Consumers are all too aware of how much money influencers get paid to post about products and brands they care nothing about and never use; likewise, consumers understand how easy it is for made-up news and stories to proliferate across social media platforms.
Consumers view ads on social media with an increasingly critical eye.“The same viral loop that catapulted Facebook into every corner of Earth is now slowly turning the other way towards its unwinding,” according to one thought leader.
The more social media platforms remain in the news for shady practices and abuse—particularly Facebook—people begin to look for content elsewhere. Social media platforms will always be popular, but people will receive their news and engage with brands in other, less-mediated ways.
Consumers want to connect with your brand directly, without the interference of algorithms and pay-to-play strategies that affect which message they see.
This means email marketing will be more important to your brand than ever for sharing updates and what your company is up to in a truthful, authentic way.
Increasingly niche interest groups
Another reason marketers will return their dollars to email marketing is due to its capacity for micro-segmentation. Email marketers know how important it is to segment their subscription list, and as artificial intelligence and techniques for data-collecting improve, marketers will be able to split their email subscription list into specific, niche segments.
Whereas previous years have seen segmentation by gender and location, going forward, marketers will have the ability to break down their segments even further, into segments of one.
Consumers assume companies collect data, and those consumers expect to receive something in return for their personal information. This means that your customers expect you to understand them and give them the information—and only the information—they care about.
Good email marketing already aims to deliver the most relevant content to subscribers’ inboxes, so adopting new technologies to increase your effectiveness at collecting data and segmenting your list makes sense. Not to mention, it won’t cost your company much time or effort and you’ll still see an improvement in your conversions.
Return to longer-form content
Email marketing makes it easy to send long-form, curated content, the kind of content your consumers associate with higher-value. And the more value customers ascribe to your brand, the better.
As much as you’ve heard people complain about ever-shrinking attention spans, the truth is, people pay attention as long as they need to when they’re engaged. For example, earlier this year Twitter increased their character limit and binge-watching has changed the way networks write, shoot, and deliver shows.
The pendulum is swinging back to favor long-form content once again, and email marketing is a proven way to deliver the content customers want to receive.
Four email marketing predictions for 2019
Read on to learn what will become most important for email marketing in 2019 so your email marketing strategy can stay ahead of the curve and bring in revenue starting now:
In the world of #ad and #sponsored, consumers crave authenticity, especially in light of what feels like daily revelations to the extent of Facebook’s problems. Though it’s impossible to craft every individual email your company sends, email—even automated email—can still incorporate the personal touch that will make your brand more human and enable you to connect emotionally with your subscribers.
One great way to give consumers what they’re looking for is to include more and better storytelling in your email marketing. Storytelling—whether you share your brand story, or customer experiences, or, even better, both—allows subscribers to get to know your brand in a personal way by promoting transparency about what you’re up to and what goes on in your company.
Storytelling also allows you to demonstrate the real-life benefits and value your products or services bring to your customers.
Customers these days are spending less time with salespeople and more time directing themselves through the majority of the sales funnel. But customers aren’t just seeking information on products when they interact with your brand, they’re also looking for personalized experiences.
By sending your subscribers more than just a sales pitch by incorporating curated content and storytelling you give them that experience.
One great way to increase the authenticity of your marketing is to send a personal note from an important person in your company. This is a great way for leadership to show they care about the people they do business with.
This email from Fitbit is a great way to connect with your audience emotionally and provide some authenticity. Thanking their customers for a great ten years celebrates an important milestone while also looking forward to the future of the company:
Source: Really Good Emails
Authentic communication will also improve brand recognition by familiarizing subscribers with the voice and tone your company uses. With the rise of Alexa, Siri, and similar technology, It’s important to note that voice-search is becoming more and more prevalent which means the more comfortable subscribers are with your voice and tone, the more likely they will find you when voice-searching, a technology that is sure to permeate the market in upcoming years.
Your subscribers want to connect with your brand and the people who run your company. Incorporate storytelling in your marketing and increase the visibility of your company’s human side to appeal to even more of your subscribers and ultimately convert them into paying customers.
2. More mobile
The number of smartphone users is set to surpass the 5 billion mark in 2019 and yet, studies show nearly 1 of 5 email marketing campaigns wasn’t optimized for mobile devices. That means 20% of email campaigns are losing out on major revenue. Nor are they building brand loyalty or connecting with their subscribers in a meaningful way.
Optimizing emails for mobile will be imperative to the success of any and every email marketing campaign in 2019. But optimizing for email no longer only refers to designing an email for easy reading on your subscriber’s smartphones. In 2019, optimizing email marketing for mobile means crafting your entire customer journey for mobile users.
This email from Native provides large graphics that are easy to click-through on mobile devices and smartphones. These links then carry the subscriber to web pages designed for easy viewing and interaction on mobile. In fact, the web pages work just as well on mobile as they do on a desktop:
Customers aren’t just reading emails on their mobile devices any longer. They’re also going straight from your emails to your website and even shopping on their mobile devices.
This means your calls to action (CTAs) should make converting as seamless as possible because you can assume your subscribers won’t switch over to their desktop to follow through. Instead, assume your subscribers will read your email, click through to your website, and perform whatever action you’re promoting all on their mobile devices.
When you don’t optimize for mobile, you’re assuming your subscribers will save your email to peruse on their desktop and they won’t. According to Adestra, In 70% of cases, if the message doesn’t display correctly on a mobile device, it’s likely to be deleted within 3 seconds.
Don’t gamble with your marketing. Instead, spend a little time thoughtfully optimizing for mobile and let your results speak for themselves.
Prioritizing mobile is no longer something you should consider; in 2019, mobile will be absolutely indispensable if you want to bring in the most revenue possible from your email marketing campaigns.
3. Artificial intelligence
Every time some new technology comes on the marketing scene, people are quick to ask, “Will this technology kill email marketing?” Artificial intelligence (AI) is no different. And just like all the other times, AI will ultimately make your email marketing more successful in 2019, not less.
According to Lisa Matherly, VP of Content Marketing at McAfee, “Marketers should look to how they can use AI as a way to understand what content a potential customer is consuming, whether it is marketing generated content, support or technical documents or user-generated, which will allow for more personalized customer experience and high customer satisfaction.”
Generate content combinations.
It can help you quickly generate combinations of content based on what will perform the best, improving your KPIs.
Do your users click-through and convert after reading customer stories? Maybe your prospects convert when you highlight your mission statement and worth ethos. Either way, AI can look at your content and evaluate what performs best. It can even tell you new combinations.
For instance, after evaluating your click-through and conversion data, AI might suggest you combine customer stories and your work ethos to create a unique post explaining how a customer connected with your mission statement and what made them fall in love with your company.
Determine highest-performing promotions.
AI can also look at your customers’ past behavior and determine what promotions and recommendations work best for each of your segments. For example, AI can determine which of your shoppers are most likely to capitalize on a limited-time only promotion and which customers prefer free shipping.
Though this capability is already available to marketers to some extent, AI will allow companies to make recommendations and segments in a much more effective way. It isn’t enough to suggest more shoes to customers who recently bought shoes. Or, like this tweet directed at Amazon, suggesting toilet seats to a customer who already bought a toilet seat:
Dear Amazon, I bought a toilet seat because I needed one. Necessity, not desire. I do not collect them. I am not a toilet seat addict. No matter how temptingly you email me, I’m not going to think, oh go on then, just one more toilet seat, I’ll treat myself.
— Jac Rayner (@GirlFromBlupo) April 6, 2018
Sending emails to customers suggesting things they don’t need—like a toilet seat to someone who just bought a toilet seat—simply because they’ve bought these items in the past isn’t a good use of your resources. Your customers will roll their eyes and delete your emails, or if you’re really unlucky, craft a tweet poking fun at your company that goes viral.
AI can look at what behaviors your subscribers have performed in the past and show you what action they’re likely to take next, allowing you to urge them along in your funnel or to address any concerns they might have.
AI is all about delivering value to your customer in a more surgically precise manner.
Identify new segments.
Likewise, AI can create segments based on behavior patterns that human marketers might have missed. Sifting through thousands of data points is overwhelming for most businesses and often you’ll miss a segment that AI will catch—like customers who convert when prompted with a limited-time offer and free shipping—leading to new and distinct segments for your company that will reap greater reward for you in the long run.
This email from Canopy is directed toward a distinct and specific segment that might be hard to catch without the help of AI:
Source: Really Good Emails
The question isn’t—and should rarely be—will this new technology kill email marketing, but rather how can this new technology improve current email marketing practices.
Customers prefer to work with companies they feel connected to; by finding new segments and catering to your subscribers’ past behavior, you can stop telling people you’re listening and start proving it. You’ll impress your customers, meaning you’ll see greater retention and more recommendations from these brand ambassadors.
Chatbots are another marketing technology that will become ubiquitous in 2019. When implementing chatbots, don’t forget they have a place within your existing strategy. It’s easy to get swept up in the hype, but you’ll have much more success when incorporating chatbots into your pre-existing marketing strategy as opposed to focusing primarily on this new technology.
In fact, chatbots and email marketing go hand in hand.
Email subscription chatbot
Adding a chatbot that asks visitors to your site if they’d like to sign up for your email list not only encourages people to sign up, but it can also provides the opportunity to gather more information about them.
An email subscription chatbot can ask new subscribers what type of content they’d like to receive from you and how often, allowing them to basically self-segment. They’ll be more likely to love the content you send them and remain engaged with your company when they have input into what content they receive.
Use a chatbot to remind your subscribers of the value your emails deliver to their inboxes. For instance, a chatbot can remind subscribers you’ve emailed them a coupon or special promotion or more details about an upcoming event.
Link to chatbots
Emails are a great place to Include links to your site’s chatbots. That way, if your subscriber has any customer service issues or questions about your products, a chatbot can answer their questions quickly, improving your relationships with customers. Including a quick link to a chatbot to resolve FAQs or common errors also frees up your company to work on other, more exciting things, such as updating your products or creating high-value content.
Chatbots can generate a better response rate and encourage customers to conduct repeat business without any additional work for you. And they’re going to be everywhere in 2019, so go ahead and consider how you can make chatbots work for you and you’ll be ready for when this trend explodes in the next few months.
Though this email from Netflix doesn’t have a link to a chatbot, it would be easy to include that option as another method for customers to get in touch:
Source: Really Good Emails
Despite constantly evolving technology and new trends in the digital marketing landscape, email marketing is going to remain one of the most cost-efficient channels available to you and your business in 2019. Email marketing hasn’t been replaced by emerging technologies in the past and it isn’t going to disappear anytime soon, so don’t let exciting new developments entice you away from an old faithful.
Email marketing and new technologies work best when they work together. These email marketing predictions for 2019 will keep you ahead of your competitors in the upcoming year and ensure you don’t spend the next year playing catch up. Instead, implement these email predictions now to be a part of the vanguard implementing 2019’s biggest marketing trends.