The 5 Major Trends Impacting Email Marketing in 2016

5 Major Trends Affecting Email Marketing in 2016The last five years have been one of the greatest periods of change in the marketing industry. Consumers are now connected 24/7, accessing content anywhere, at any time, and on multiple devices. Digital marketing now represents over 30% of marketing spend and is expected to increase to nearly 45% of marketing budgets in 2016.

This momentum is driven by the popularity of mobile devices which have evolved to become an extension of a person. While smartphones are now in the majority of consumer’s hands in North America, marketers are still playing catch up. In 2015 we saw marketers adopt responsive designs in greater numbers which, in turn, led to an increase in engagement metrics, as consumers received messaging optimized for their preferred devices. The evolution will continue and marketers need to change in step, adapting and shifting their perceptions about mobile devices and its users. 

Here are the five major email marketing trends that you need to be aware of to ensure that you’re ready for 2016!


  1. The Mobile Shift

The recent resurgence in the popularity of email can, in large part, be attributed to the smartphone as customers can now check their email from anywhere and at any time. eMarketer forecasted that the number of smartphone users in North America increased 11.6% in 2015 (over the previous year), and that by 2019, there will be 262.2 million smartphone users in North America alone!

One of the key benefits of mobile is that marketers now have more user data than ever and with it the opportunity to do better behavioural analysis. The volume of digital messaging through social/email and mobile is causing consumers brains to be rewired.  Attention spans are shortening; but so is the way they process information. The key for marketers is to really know their audience and more carefully orchestrate interactions.


  1. The Rise of Contextual Marketing

Consumers are getting better at tuning out, blocking, and skipping irrelevant advertisements. Alternatively, many will go out of their way to browse advertisements that are specific to their interests. According to eMarketer, 78% of retail customers are more likely to be a repeat customer if they are sent targeted personalized offers – nothing works better than an email that truly matters to the customer.

Relevance, perceived value, and context are key components to increasing consumer engagement. Personalized advertisements and recommendations will become increasingly valuable in 2016, as technology makes it easier to provide more targeted content that is relevant to consumers. For example, many subscribers are now on the go when they open emails. A retailer can use these moments, when a subscriber first opens a message, to recommend the closest store locations, potentially driving in-store sales. Is it raining, sunny, or snowing at your customer’s location? Dynamically generated weather-specific inventory or messaging can further enhance your subscriber’s brand experience. Interactions like this will give brands a competitive edge and an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.


  1. Increased Testing & Science

In 2015 marketers undertook more creative testing and optimization (templates and relational content) to try to improve relevance. Current marketing testing best practices include A/B test strategies or multivariate testing, but in the next year testing capabilities will expand in both breadth and depth.  A cutting-edge area of creative learning comes through eye-tracking testing, where “message scientists” deconstruct eye-flow and measure viewability, stickiness, etc. This personalized testing will unlock marketing efficiencies, and improve user experiences as they interact with a brand across channels.

Contact us to start testing your creative with the latest technologies!


  1. Data, Analytics, & Insights – A Winning Trio

Data and its analysis is where smart marketers focus their attention to gather insights about their customers. There is more real-time data now than ever before and it’s never been easier or quicker to get to. However, it’s not as simple as it sounds, as this abundance of data can be overwhelming.

Marketers need to be selective in the data they collect, discerning what’s interesting vs. what’s valuable. Begin by identifying specific program goals and then prioritize the components required to achieve them. For example, it might be interesting for a grocery retailer to know what day of the week their customer typically does their shopping, but it’s more important that they know what products they routinely purchase. Valuable data, when used correctly, enables brands to create more personalized and relevant messaging.  In 2016 brands will narrow their focus, acting on key data points to make this happen.

Want to know more? Read our latest blog, “How To Gather Insights From Your Data”.


  1. A Push for Marketing Automation

According to Epsilon, triggered email messages get 119% higher click-through rates than a typical email campaign. Triggered emails are sent based on a user’s situation or behaviour (or lack of behaviour), according to “if-then” logic. For example, if your customer opts in to your email program, then a welcome message is sent, introducing them to the email program and setting expectations. Emails can be sent in response to a variety of behaviours: when a user subscribes to your newsletter, makes a purchase, views a certain product on your website, or physically enters your place of business.


Email Marketing Benchmarks

To know how your programs are performing, and measuring up against the competition, it’s important to consistently set benchmarks.  The 2016 edition of our North American Email Marketing Benchmark Report provides expert insight and analysis on the latest email metric trends and benchmarks. Use these benchmarks and trends to help gauge your organization’s performance.

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