Thought Leadership

3 Email Marketing Trends to Watch for in 2016

Major predictions on ways to stay ahead of the curve in 2016

Trend Prediction 1: Engaging Millennials will be Essential for Overall Brand Growth  

Just as Baby Boomers changed the way marketers and corporations cater to all consumers, Millennials will have a lasting effect on marketing strategy.  Factors such as a tough job market, easy access to technology and media, and a strong penchant for self-expression have driven this fearless generation to forge new courses in life and redefine success.  In other words, they are the masters of customization. Not only are they adept at creating their own custom experience, they expect it in every aspect of their life.

What does this have to do with the other generations?  Well, who doesn’t love a custom anything?  Who wouldn’t enjoy a perfect cup of coffee with your name (literally) on it, waiting for you at the counter?  What about a hotel room with all of your preferred amenities?  We all possess this desire to be catered to, to feel special.  So if we embrace the spirit of the Millennials when designing our strategies, I predict that in 2016, we’d capture the attention of more than one generation. 

One of the keys to providing a customized experience is to understand your customer.  For instance this winter, Marriott ran a campaign where they assigned their loyalty members a persona based on their stay history.  While on the surface this may be all in good fun, it accomplishes a very important job by saying, “Hey Customer, you are unique and special, and we get you.”  This kind of recognition from a brand is what stays in a customer’s mind and leads to loyalty in the long term.

Trend Prediction 2: Multichannel Awakens

If you are a marketing professional who didn’t spend the past year beachcombing in Bora Bora* you have already heard the term “multi-channel” far too many times.  There wasn’t a single marketing conference that didn’t mention it, and the term was always hanging out in your inbox.  But all annoyances aside, marketers who did the not-so-sexy work of redesigning their operating infrastructure over the last 12 or 18 months will be reaping its benefits in 2016.  With this new multi-channel approach, they have likely gained the ability to see a 360-degree view of their customers and subsequently the ability to market to them via the most effective channel(s).  As more marketers become adept at directing the symphony that is a multi-channel marketing program, consumers will naturally align with brands that offer the best experience. 

Alas, not everybody had the luxury of fine tuning their infrastructure last year.  So here is a low hanging fruit we can all pick on our path to multi-channel nirvana - leverage one channel to boost another, and cross pollinate!

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Reference your social channels in email (make sharing a CTA, and always add chicklets)
  2. Add email opt-in links to your social platforms/pages
  3. Incentivize your store staff to collect email addresses
  4. Last but not least, track the effectiveness of all of the above for opt-in and engagement rates –  doing so will likely provide some unexpected insight into your customer base

By the way, #3 is fairly simple and doesn’t require a state-of-the-art point-of-sale system to execute—though such a system can make a huge difference in scope/quality of reporting results. I’ve often been pleasantly surprised by email newsletters received from mom and pop shops where I wrote (yes, wrote) my email down on a sheet of paper.

Chicklets help reference social channels in email communications

Trend Prediction 3: Go Mobile or Go Broke

As the Q3 Compass Report states, the percentage of email driven revenue obtained through mobile purchases continues to grow at a significant rate.  And in 2016 it is poised to affect the bottom line of those who have not adjusted their strategies accordingly. With the fluidity in which consumers move between small screens and big screens, and between online and offline, a mobile-centric marketing strategy no longer just means making your content legible on the iPhone 6.  It means dusting off and redrawing that customer journey map created in 2008 and identifying points where mobile can enhance the experience or even be a game-changer.  It means considering what types of communication or content will help push a customer along the funnel, or even help them skip some steps – e.g. think mobile payment options. When we think of that custom experience that we all crave, mobile is where the rubber really meets the road.  So shoot for the WOW.

2016 will be an exciting year in email marketing and the potential for enhanced customer engagement is even greater with these emails trends. So be sure to add these elements to your upcoming campaign strategies and start the year ahead of the marketing pack in 2016.

What do you think will be trends defining 2016? Share your ideas and comments below or tweet us your thoughts at #2016emailtrends.

*If you did spend the last year in Bora Bora and you are reading my blog post, please contact me ASAP because we need to become BFF’s fast.

Author Bio

Marie Honme

As Senior Marketing Strategist, Marie provides strategic consultation and insight for Yes Marketing clients, and has created marketing strategies for various companies including Coca-Cola, HP and U.S. Bank. With over fifteen years of experience in the digital marketing space, she is passionate about developing strategies that deliver a complete brand experience while supporting long-term consumer engagement. Marie has also spearheaded the development of mobile reporting and analysis for the organization by designing new ways to track and measure mobile engagement. In addition, she has co-authored Yes Marketing's industry-leading benchmark reports resulting from the analysis of over 5 billion emails sent across 20 industries.