In last week’s issue of Email Essentials, we included predictions from several industry experts and invited you to submit your thoughts. Luke Lawson, account director for Experian CheetahMail UK and United Mail Solutions UK, took us up on our invitation. Here are his predictions for 2011.
* The email marketing channel will remain vibrant and attractive to organizations regardless of what their consumer and prospects databases may currently consist of. The additional offerings such as SMS/text, mobile apps, and of course social media will be a top priority of leading email service providers in order to further the reach of these fast-growing marketing channels for users and customers of their broadcasting platforms.
* The introduction of Gmail’s Priority Inbox, Hotmail’s Sweep and other features, and similar changes from Yahoo! and other providers will make the idea of carpet bombing to a hefty list much less appealing. These functionalities enable the ISPs to analyze incoming mail, give it a ranking, and sort it into sections that users can customize. Messages from senders that users have not engaged with in the past are more likely to end up in bulk or even spam folders than in recipients’ inboxes.
As a result, it will be more important than ever for senders to build and maintain a good reputation, which by definition is coming to encompass regular customer engagement. This may lead to reduced sending volumes, as lower open rates could have a greater impact on deliverability. The focus will be more on cleaner data and the use of dynamic elements and relevant content to create a one-to-one relationship with users. These are, of course, also key drivers for successful brand building and client retention.
* Mobile apps will fast become a transactional point of sale for smartphone users and will play a larger role in customer acquisition and retention. The mobile marketing channel has come a long way in the past three years, mainly due to the uptake in smartphones. Where we once were limited to 160-character text messages with a costly “reply to” call to action, we are now looking at rich content messages with clickable links and images leading to mobile-friendly Web pages. This opens the door for the transaction that every marketer is essentially working toward.
Granted, a wrong message at the wrong time could mean the end of your texting relationship with the recipient. With email, you can get around to your emails at some point and filter them to your desires. With mobile, your handset bleeps in your pocket, and you need to give it your immediate attention. Having said all of this, an email platform with SMS/text capabilities will be a part of the decision process when choosing an email service provider in 2011.
* A dramatic uptake in Facebook.com email may shake the very settled foundations of the industry’s best practices. Marketers will closely monitor the adoption and response rates for Facebook.com and all previously existing ISPs. Facebook email will be taken very seriously, and promotion and presence on its site will be at the top of organizations’ priorities list, which will lead to a frenzy to get email subscribers to “like” brands and pages. I think we can all agree that 500-plus million users is reason enough to secure the resource and financial investment in what will surely be a social presence with a future return on investment.
Have predictions you’d like to share? Drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.