Monday, 18 January 2016

Email Marketing 2016

So I was reading through Campaign Monitors 10 epic email marketing predictions for 2016 the other day and amongst the ubiquitous email will make a comeback (where has it ever gone?) and hopes that Gmail will fix it's issues with media queries and CSS, two themes jumped out at me:

  • Email Templating
  • Increased used of data and personalisation

It was on these I wanted to pen my thoughts. Over the years I've worked on creating email content management systems for both data driven and content driven marketing, and so felt it would be good to reflect on these, look at what's out there and what I'd like to see happening this year.

Email Templating

In truth I think the time for email templating has come, but it's going to take education to get some design agencies and clients on board. Templating drives down the cost of production allowing people without HTML expertise to quickly and easily produce emails. On top of this, locked down templates ensure brand compliance reducing QA time and increasing the consistency of the final product.

Part of the key here is flexibility. Whilst there are going to be limitations on how you can design templates, these should be limited to those that are due to the limitations of email as a medium.

As we go into 2016 what I like is that more engines are coming along that incorporate this concept, on the ESP side this includes Campaign Monitors email editor, but there are also off platform editors, such as Elliot Ross's Taxi for Email or CACI's Email Studio.

This increase in flexible, intuitive email editors should make it a lot easier for marketeers to quickly and easily produce static emails that can then be sent to segments. For me this does leave a couple of issues - advanced personalisation and languages.

Advanced personalisation

Advanced personalisation for me goes beyond that which you'd want to manage via query/filter based segmentation. Essentially this is personalisation that would create the need for huge amounts of query/filter management. For me there comes a point where rather than creating ever more queries/filters, it would be better to be able to have slightly bigger sets in the filters/queries but still be able to achieve a higher degree of personalisation through other means.

We're not talking simple placeholder replacement here, we're talking entire blocks of content and layouts being driven by the data, by what your company knows about the user. These blocks then may or may not contain content that needs to be further personalised.

This is not to say that you shouldn't be able to report on that variation, you should. It is just that it would be better managed if it didn't involve having to use extra selections/filters to create the extra segments.

Data and Personalisation

As we move forward and gather ever more data about or customers, combining it with analytic data and potentially even enriching it using demographic data from sauces like Acorn or Mosaic,the personalisation that can be achieved using that data increases also.

When we add into that business specific predictive algorithms the variations and possibilities become almost endless.

It's with all this in mind that what I'd like to see develop throughout 2016 are solutions that allow marketeers the ability to combine easily reusable data with versatile templated emails to enable them to be able achieve advanced levels of personalistion without the need for technical support.