Why email marketing for the focus of this blog? Email can be easy to write off – with the rise of not just social, but dark social, the migration by customers away from email can seem like a foregone conclusion. But email marketing is far from dead, in my opinion – it seamlessly integrates into other marketing strategies, offers a potentially high ROI due to the low cost of send (4,300% according to the DMA), and offers a rate of conversion three times higher than social media. It’s obviously still a key weapon of choice in the marketer’s arsenal, which is why it makes sense to try to stay one step ahead of the competition in this area in particular.

Comet’s work in major organisations means we lucky consultants get invaluable exposure to a variety of teams in different companies, and through our work implementing decisioning technology, we naturally get an idea of what priorities are currently intriguing and challenging marketing departments. It is, of course, great to see that decisioning is high up on the agenda for many of our client teams – but what other developments could 2017 still have in store?

  • Interactive emails are set to engage customers more and more by the companies using them successfully. Email and website user experiences will move towards overlapping, with emails using elements such as hamburger menus, search bars, and add-to-cart functionality in order to drive customer conversions. There will be technical considerations, of course, with not all email clients able to support interactivity – but email marketers are more than used to fall-backs (using alt text to compensate for images not displaying for instance). Historically there’s been some concern around different customers potentially receiving different experiences, but this may be something we need to accept – it’s more important that each customer gets an experience that works for them, whether they get the email on a new Nokia 3310 or on the iPhone 7 – or at their desktop.
  • More engaging email content, such as HTML5 video and cinemagraphs, will increasingly be used to keep customers reading and interested in an email’s content. Now that Apple is once again supporting HTML5 in iOS10, considering 53% of emails are opened on an iPhone, it seems that 2017 is definitely the tipping point for this technology. Cinemagraphs (pictures that move very slightly, such as showing steam drifting off a cup of tea or grass waving in the wind) are another way to spark curiosity and invite clicks-through.
  • Big data personalisation and automated emails are at the core of Comet’s expertise, and we don’t expect these just to be a trend for 2017. The scale and complexity of truly mastering big data means that businesses are wise not to see these as short-term initiatives, though naturally there are quick wins to be secured. As large companies increasingly invest in personalising content that arrives at the right time for customers on a far more granular level than was possible hitherto, those organisations that don’t invest risk being left behind in the big data arms race. The true winners will provide a genuinely omnichannel experience, recognising customers across devices and channels to provide a consistent experience with their brand.

We are excited to see what 2017 continues to bring, in email marketing and beyond – what trends have you spotted, and how will you be investing this year? 

Jennifer Gill

Senior Consultant at Comet Global Consulting

Jenni is a Senior Consultant for Comet’s UK Strategy and Insights Team and holds an MSc in Creative Advertising. She has led Customer Experience and Digital Strategy projects across a diverse range of industries, from media to travel to financial services, and past clients include the BBC, First Group, Lloyds Bank, Aegon and AXA. Comet projects include the implementation of decisioning in the B2B space at Standard Life and assisting Royal London with a testing strategy for the business. In her spare time, Jenni acts as a freelance writer and editor.