The marketing funnel as we know it is dead.

For decades, marketers have prescribed to the notion of a marketing and sales funnel where leads enter into the top and customers emerge, like magic, from the bottom. We’ve created and optimized content and experiences for the different stages of this funnel and tested a plethora of tools and tactics to maximize it. But guess what? Somewhere along the way, as more and more new digital marketing channels and tactics emerged, this neat little linear funnel quit working like it was supposed to. The marketing funnel as we know it is over.

But marketers need not despair. A new marketing funnel has emerged and merges pre-purchase and post-purchase stages to present a complete view of the entire customer lifecycle. Multi-channel, multi-touch, multi-path customer journeys are the new marketing funnel.

Marketers need not despair.

Marketers must now own the complete journey of the customer lifecycle, not just think about cherry-picking touchpoints along the way. The end goal is no longer to simply convert a lead into a customer. It’s about maximizing the lifetime value of loyal customers who will come back again and again.

Unlike the traditional funnel, in the new marketing funnel, leads can enter at any stage. They can travel through in random order, and leads may not even make it through every stage because every lead is unique and every journey is unique. There is no traditional one-size-fits-all funnel, journey or customer experience. This is the new age of customer lifecycle marketing.

Although the funnel is changing, and new marketing tactics are on the rise, and leads can enter at any stage – email marketing continues to be a leading channel at every stage of this new funnel.

Our biggest challenge as marketers in the coming year will be to deliver personalized, relevant multi-channel journeys that speak to the unique needs and desires of our prospects. Are you up for the challenge?

Samantha Anderl
Senior Director
Acquisition Channels
Campaign Monitor


Email targeting will become turbocharged.

Relevance is paramount—to subscriber experiences, to deliverability, and to email revenue generation. In 2018, email marketers will increase their use of automated emails, which are central to creating more email experiences.

For example, successful programs are 108.5% more likely than less successful programs to generate at least half of their email marketing revenue from automated and transactional emails (17.1% vs. 8.2%), according to Litmus’ State of Email Survey of more than 3,500 global marketers.

As email marketing revenue shifts more towards these high-value emails, we’ll hit a tipping point.

As email marketing revenue shifts more towards these high-value emails, we’ll hit a tipping point. Investing the vast majority of our time in the production of mass emails that account for roughly 95% of our email volume but generate less than half of our email revenue won’t make sense. Instead, we’ll begin investing more time in the automated emails that account for 5% of our email volume but most of our email revenue.

Rather than viewing these emails unwisely as “set it and forget it” programs, we’ll treat them as “review and improve” programs, maximize their efficiency and supercharge our impact. This is already proven by positive results. Successful programs are 70.2% more likely than less successful programs to A/B test their automated emails at least once a year (43.4% vs 25.5%), and are 94.7% more likely to A/B test their transactional emails at least once a year (33.3% vs 17.1%).

The current advances in email automation are happening in an environment of increased integration across channels, across departments and across partners. Brands now have unprecedented insight into customer activity—insights that they are able to act on with automated emails that reach each customer at the right time—with exactly the right content for them.

Certain brands are going to catch this wave and ride it to great success. Others will wait too long and miss it. Are you in danger? If your email program isn’t generating at least 25% of its revenue from automated emails, it’s time to implement some changes. If you’re already generating most of your email revenue from automated emails–don’t let up! Everyone’s about to be hot on your heels.

Chad S. White
Research Director
Litmus and Author of
Email Marketing Rules


The journey to 1:1 personalization is on.

Email marketing has been a pioneer of modern marketing personalization.The ability to craft individualized experiences at scale has given email marketing huge leads when it comes to personalization. But so far, email personalization has been based mainly on past events like user-created profiles and preferences, purchases and life stage events.

We’ve all received post-purchase emails for similar products, or emails reminding us to come back to abandoned carts that we’ve moved on from. We move all of this data around and create small windows of relevance that many brands cannot capitalize on. Consumer expectations have also changed. They expect everything to work like Spotify’s Discover Weekly playlist or Netflix’s Recommendation pages. Thus far, marketers have struggled to deliver those specific kinds of recommendation-oriented experiences.

Spotify’s Discover Weekly

Email personalization will [shift] heavily towards ‘what’s next’ instead of ‘what was.’

Netflix’s Recommendations

In 2018, I predict email personalization will start shifting heavily towards ‘what’s next’ instead of ‘what was.’ New machine learning and data science-based features and platforms will give email marketers the ability to harness their content and data to prophesize relevant information to mass audiences in a personal way.

Alex Williams
Creative Director Trendline Interactive


Marketers will own the multi-channel experience like never before.

In 2018, marketers will truly own the entire customer lifecycle. Until now, marketers have typically been focused on acquisition and loyalty, but most haven’t explored the other incredibly lucrative areas of the lifecycle, where customers need that little bit more from the brands they love. In 2018, with tools and technologies making it possible, marketers will begin to fully tackle the customer lifecycle, first with email marketing and then with other channels such as paid, social, direct mail and on-site personalization.

It’s a new age of lifecycle marketing and it’s going to be lit.

Instead of focusing solely on acquisition, marketers will be more accountable than ever for each customer touchpoint. From the first time marketers meet prospects, to purchase and pre-delivery, to loyalty and advocacy, even retention and win-back; all of these touchpoints will require the marketer to be present in order to deliver value to prospects every step of the way.

The result, if we get it right, is a multi-channel experience along every touchpoint of the lifecycle that delights the customer and creates the ultimate return on investment at every step. It’s a new age of lifecycle marketing and it’s going to be lit.

Philip Storey
Founder and CEO


Predictive marketing metrics will become coveted by marketers.

Right now, marketers are campaign-oriented. They focus on measuring the success of campaigns above measuring the customer lifetime value (CLV). This happens for various reasons, one being that campaign metrics are easier to measure than individual customer lifetime value.

Additionally, the way we calculate CLV isn’t always very accurate, as it uses known historical data and bases that data solely upon past transactions for a particular customer or group. This only provides insight into what has already occurred, and as such, sheds very little insight into the potential value of new subscribers and customers.

But not for long. Predictive marketing metrics, such as CLV calculation, will be vastly improved upon. Machine learning and AI will predict individual and group customer lifetime value – this is called Predictive CLV. So goodbye historical CLV and hello predictive CLV.

Predictive CLV measures types of actionable insights that are current, to help marketers make better informed, data-driven decisions that contribute to increased revenue. Insights such as: which group of subscribers and their attributes will be the most profitable over a specific time period, which acquisition budget earns the highest ROI and which customer attributes assist in driving increased lifetime value.

Marketers most value services that enable them to measure, attribute, and optimize their programs.

Analytical services: develop measurement, attribution models Measurement/attribution (40%) Strategic services: optimize programs Program optimization (36%) Analytical services: develop recommendation algorithms Algorithm development (33%) Analytical services: identify audience trends Identifying audience trends (31%) Strategic services: adopt new marketing channel Implement new marketing channels (30%) Acquisition services: gain new customers New customer acquisition (28%) Creative services: develop content/templates New content/templates (27%) Technical services: manage and integrate data Data management/integration (24%) Production services: manage processes Process management (17%) None None (3%)

Machine learning and AI will predict individual and group customer lifetime value — this is called Predictive CLV.

The Relevancy Group’s research clearly shows (in Fig.5) the benefits of using advanced analytics such as predictive CLV over basic analytics such as historical CLV.

Fig.5: The Return on Marketing Analytics, Monthly Revenue
Basic analytics $258,550
Advanced analytics $617,300
Fig.6: Data Utilized for Predictive Modeling
Demographic 59%
Geographic 45%
Past purchase behavior 44%
1st party profile data 32%
Loyalty club status 30%
Site click behavior 29%
Real time behavior 25%
Email click behavior 24%
3rd party data 17%
None 3%

Fig.4: The Relevancy Group Executive Survey 2017, Fig.5: The Relevancy Group Executive Survey 2015, Fig 6: The Relevancy Group Executive Survey 2017

As we can see in Fig.6, when asked, “What data do you currently leverage for predictive modeling?” we’re not there as of yet but expect increased use as more marketers become aware of the benefits of using predictive marketing metrics to help them provide both more value to customers, and in turn by benefiting from their use of these predictive marketing metrics by gaining valuable insight.

Kath Pay
Holistic Email Marketing


A new type of combined email marketing automation is rising.

Expect the line between marketing automation, email marketing, and CRM to blur as email and automation companies continue to expand their features. A new midfield of marketing technology players will emerge. That is great for marketers. It lowers the barrier to get more advanced functionality and start with smarter marketing.

Some examples:

Visual automation workflow builders.

Before long, visual automation workflow builders will be everywhere. All marketers have the ambition to do the kind of campaigns that originated in B2B marketing automation. Small market providers will also have the fancy drag-and-drop visual kind of event triggered email and automations.

Even more user-friendly marketing automation.

It’s crazy if you think about it, but many of the original automation platforms still don’t offer decent email builders, or they can’t handle dynamic email content well. This is bound to change.

Easier content automation.

Automated content is a great timesaver for small email programs and a lifesaver for large enterprises who operate at scale. Pull content, products, and information from your site, e-commerce or database and inject them directly into your email. Creating targeted, personalized messages and product recommendations becomes way easier than before.

So next year, expect high-value platforms and sophistication at a more accessible price than we have seen.

So, in 2018, expect high-value platforms and sophistication at a better price than we are used to. Some of this will be driven by acquisitions, but expect most to come from further platform development of brands we already know (and love).

Jordie van Rijn


The community

The experts made their bold predictions, and our email marketing community had a few of their own. What do you think? Will these predictions come to fruition. Will something else epic rock our industry? What will marketers do in 2018 that’ll rock our worlds?

Weigh in on Twitter with #EmailPredictions18

All interactive, all the time. 4x retina display. Better font support.
Julia C Guilia @juliacguilia
Email design will move past the one size fits all. Design will also need to be personalized as we foster 1:1 relationships.
Mike Twigg @twiggmichael
1) Bye-bye stylized HTML, hello to plain-text; 2) Language that's more conversational and human, less "salesy".
Brandon Burkman @brandonburkman
Interactive emails (again). Outlook will still be a pain in the neck.
Pam A. Molino @pam_molino
reCaptcha on subscribe forms will soon become normal, protecting their lists and reputation, and also be expected by subscribers who will only trust brands securing their forms from spambots.
Heather Noonan-Hargroves @i_am_heather
Mo' automation. Mo' personalization.
Resound Creative @resound
More companies paying attention to CASL and legal definitions more in general for email marketing since it's gone into effect.
BlackendHonesty @blackendhonesty
Email marketing of the future?
Andrew Dickinson @alluremail
Video excerpt from film, 'Her' (2013), directed by Spike Jones.
UK e-commerce retailers will wake up to GDPR on 24 May 2018 prompting a scramble for experts and solutions to repermission data.
Daniel Lennox @daniellennox

Wrap up

2018 promises to be a year of amazing opportunity for marketers as they blaze trails into a new age of marketing. Marketers will be empowered with data that will enable them to find success in an ever-changing and evolving marketing funnel, where they will own the customer lifecycle and measure it not just through vanity metrics but through CLV and predictive LTV. Expect mid-market technology platforms to blow the doors off of what marketers previously thought possible with new functionality that will exceed customer demand for 1:1 experiences. There’s never been a more promising time to be a marketer.

There’s never been a more promising time to be a marketer.

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