Guest Blogs, Laura Christensen

What’s Ahead: Email Marketing Predictions for 2019

email marketers

Many email marketers are busy setting new goals for the year ahead. In order to prioritize, it’s important to consider some of the key factors that will shape email marketing in 2019, including privacy, personalization, and consumer experience.

Increased focus on privacy and permissioning

The course of privacy and permissioning changed significantly in 2018. First came the news in March that Cambridge Analytica had misappropriated the data of millions of Facebook users without their knowledge. In May, GDPR went into effect, and by June California had passed its own Consumer Privacy Act, which goes into effect January 1, 2020.Throughout the year, companies such as T-Mobile, Google, Orbitz, and most recently Marriott made headlines with very public data breaches.

As a result, significant changes in privacy and permissioning are expected this year. Federal politicians and tech giants are pushing for digital privacy legislation that would supersede California’s law with a more industry-friendly federal bill. Already in January more than a dozen privacy organizations united to  unveil a plan that would create a new federal data protection agency focused on regulating the way businesses and other organizations collect and make use of personal data.

We’ll also see more brand accountability, from transparency in how companies collect data to an increased investment in both their ownership and control of customer data. As companies prepare for pending legislation and put proactive policies in place, privacy and permissioning will play a much more significant role in email program strategy this year.

More personalized subscriber experience

With an increased focus on data collection, privacy, and permissioning, brands will offer more personalized experiences to customers in exchange for sharing their data. As more data becomes available, predictive analytics will take much of the work and worry out of deciphering the massive amounts of customer information available to create a highly personalized customer experience in real time.

A growing number of mailbox providers like Gmail and Yahoo will rely more on subscribers’ positive (and negative) engagement in their filtering decisions. As a result, brands that want their messages to land in the inbox will need to leverage customer data to create highly relevant, compelling opportunities for engagement with email messages.

Increased consumer expectations

The availability and use of more data will also increase consumers’ expectations about their customer experiences. In fact, a 2017 survey by YouGov found that 47 percent of consumers had higher expectations about their customer experience as a direct result of sharing personal information with companies. The younger the respondent, the higher their expectations, with more than half of millennials (59 percent) indicating the more data they share the higher their expectations for a better customer experience, followed by Gen X (47 percent) and Baby Boomers (38 percent).

Changing ESP landscape

Consumers’ willingness to share information and tolerance for data collection will hinge on the ability of brands to deliver on their personalization promises and exceed customer expectations. For this, marketers will turn to email service providers (ESPs) who can help operate and coordinate all marketing, sales, and service from a single platform, with email fully integrated into all channels and aspects of a business.

We’re already seeing the impact of these demands on the ESP landscape. While brands continue to have more than two hundred email service providers to choose from, the ESP industry continues to show clear signs of consolidation, driven by mergers and acquisitions, decreased use of in-house email platforms, and declining use of multiple ESPs by brands. According to Litmus’ 2018 State of Email Service Providers report, at the current rate of consolidation, the top 10 email service providers will control more than two-thirds of the overall market by the end of 2019.

With a renewed focus on privacy, permissioning, and brand experience, 2019 is shaping up to be the year of the consumer. As marketers, it’s time to find out what your customers expect from your brand in exchange for their participation in your email program. Don’t be afraid to test every aspect of your email program—from content and creative to timing and frequency. Proactively approaching your email program strategy with a customer-centric focus will create big shifts in subscriber engagement, and increase your ROI.

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Laura Christensen
Director of Professional Services at Validity
Laura is an Senior Email Strategist for Return Path, the worldwide leader in email intelligence. As a true Maximizer, she leverages email program data and insight to identify what’s good and make it excellent, somewhat obsessively at times. After spending more than 15 years in the email industry, she’s passionate about helping her clients create better subscriber experiences for increased engagement, retention, and overall email program performance. She continues to work with clients across multiple industries to identify email program vulnerabilities and opportunities, refining strategies to achieve success.

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