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How Email Marketing Will Evolve in the Next 5 Years

Ever since the first email blast was sent in 1978, email marketing has been evolving to keep up with changing customer expectations and technological developments. 

With a tool that enables us to reach millions of potential customers with the click of a button, it’s tempting to send out mass promotional emails that reach the maximum number of people possible, but besides having been done to death, that means missing out on huge opportunities. Over the years, email marketing has steadily been moving away from the newsletter and promotional blast to behaviorally driven, event-triggered, one-to-one messaging. In one word: personalization.

Personalize and Automate

We’ve already been through personalization in a sense — starting with the basics like name and workplace. But that’s simply not enough. Today’s consumers are more demanding than ever and, even if unconsciously, expect personalization at higher levels. Demographics just don’t cut it anymore, you must be able not only to cater to who your customers are, but to react to what they are doing at the very moment they do it. Fortunately, this kind of data is now available for the taking.

In e-commerce, this means understanding where exactly your potential customer is in the sales cycle by using specific information about user behavior, and then taking carefully crafted steps to keep that person engaged. For example, seeing past searches or purchases can inform a targeted message with tailored recommendations to get them back in your online store. It’s all about nudging people in the direction you want them to go, based on actions they have performed, in order to accomplish a specific goal.

When it comes to targeted messages, abandoned carts are the most lucrative triggers. Research shows that around 70% of e-commerce shopping carts are abandoned before making a purchase, and 10% of them can still be converted if something is done to take them back to the website. These are shoppers who were just one step away from converting, and reaching out with the right messaging at the right time can make all the difference.

If you use a platform like Shopify or Magento for your store or use an email marketing application, you can easily send automated cart abandonment emails to users who are logged in or are on your list. If they’re not, you might have a problem, but fortunately there are tools that can help. You can use AddShoppers or GetEmails, for example, to identify anonymous buyers and send them follow-up emails. These emails can be so targeted and timely that in the future people will actually start expecting them, even if they aren’t on people’s lists already. That 10% conversion rate will no doubt increase.

Consider SMS

We’ve talked about email, but that’s just one of the possibilities for re-engaging potential buyers. The key is in the messaging, and SMS is another great channel that businesses can use. The goal is to amplify your marketing efforts so that you can reach a larger audience, and integrating SMS into your email marketing strategy might be the best way to do that. 

SMS open rates are as high as 98%, so it stands to reason that they’ll have a higher conversion rate. Although spam filters make automated SMS tricky, there are amazing companies like LiveRecover that have teams of humans that manually text buyers to find out what stopped them from making the purchase and answer their concerns. By offering small discounts, they actually get around 20% to go back and convert. 

Of course, email is much cheaper than SMS, so strategizing comes down to finding the right balance that works for your business specific characteristics.

Beyond Commerce

Outside of e-commerce, you can apply the same principles — a great example is in onboarding. At my company, we use Intercom to trigger emails when users hit certain points in our onboarding flow. If they get our script on their site, they get one message. If they set up an integration, they get another.  

Each of their actions triggers specific messaging and nudges them towards the next step in our sales cycle. This is where the future of email marketing lies. As the world slowly moves towards digital integration into everything physical, this will account for 90% of email that you receive.

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The article How Email Marketing Will Evolve in the Next 5 Years by Adam Robinson first appeared on Street Fight.