Email, the longtime workhouse yet sometimes unsung hero of the marketing department, enters 2022 stronger than ever — both in terms of emerging advances in data and technology, as well as its relevance and utilization in the omnichannel tech stack. The sheer volume of the channel is staggering: across the globe, we sent and received more than 333 billion emails per day in 2021, making email arguably the most important marketing communication tool we have to engage with consumers.
However, email marketing is transforming in a big way, driven by three main factors: technology and platform advancements, privacy shifts, and the ever-higher bar being set for creating exceptional customer experiences across connected channels. Innovative retailers that recognize the new opportunities given this transformation will be best positioned to deliver outsized benefits to both consumers and their companies’ bottom lines.
Platforms Have Evolved
In the last year, technology and data have made huge leaps forward, with new players putting sophisticated tools and predictive intelligence in the hands of marketers like never before. Previously, many email platforms couldn't sustain or support the use of the incredible amount of data available today in a way that leveled up the email marketing experience. Many built integrations with customer data platforms (CDPs), but any resulting improvements were minimal without the data being actionable. Next-generation email marketing platforms are solving for the problem, allowing marketers to harness virtually limitless volumes of data for real-time marketing use. Retailers can now combine and create new data for personalization and segmentation — think brand affinity and channel preferences — allowing them to engage with customers in far more meaningful, valuable ways.
Privacy Shifts Are Making Email Work Harder
Data privacy laws such as GDPR, CCPA, and CPRA have changed the face of data-driven marketing and advertising, vastly increasing the importance of first- and zero-party data, and forcing marketers to find bolder, more creative ways to reach potential customers. This has further reinforced email as the highest return on investment channel for everything from retargeting to cart abandonment.
By rendering open rates less useful, the launch of Apple iOS 15 in September 2021 presented significant challenges for email marketers. However, it also created opportunities for them to be more advanced in how they engage and measure success — with many looking forward to a long overdue shift from this simplistic metric to a future in which the merits of their work are judged on the actual business results that they can deliver.
A recent Cordial study found that 81 percent of marketers agree with the idea that industrywide privacy changes will help marketers focus on more meaningful metrics. Smart marketers are using richer metrics like proprietary customer engagement scores and customer value indices. Brands — and, indeed, MarTech providers — that fail to keep up with these new metrics will quickly find themselves losing ground.
Customers Demand Better Cross-Channel Experiences
With more consumers interacting with brands across more channels than ever before, a seamless cross-channel experience is critical. The Cordial study found that 83 percent of consumers have shopped in response to emails, while 67 percent have shopped in response to text messages. Brands need to take an integrated approach, prioritizing building a holistic customer experience instead of looking at siloed, channel-specific programs and metrics.
Additionally, with more retailers launching their own mobile apps, the need for connected experiences is critical. To deliver a truly integrated experience, all channels must be able to access the same data, from email to SMS to mobile app. For example, sending an email or SMS/MMS that deep links to a specific page of the retailer’s mobile app improves the customer experience, makes buying easier for the consumer, and allows for cross-channel attribution, letting retailers accurately attribute revenue to the original source.
To recap: Email is the beating heart of marketing — for brands that continue to innovate and transform the way they leverage the channel. Fed by integrated data, it's a critical tool for driving better results for brands in every industry imaginable. And its future is as bright as it has ever been.
Jeremy Swift is CEO and co-founder at Cordial, a cross-channel marketing platform provider that empowers marketing teams to create personal relationships with every customer.
Jeremy Swift is founder and CEO of Cordial. Cordial is a cross-channel messaging platform that is changing the way marketing & technology teams engage their customers. Before founding Cordial in 2014, Jeremy was a founding member of BlueHornet, a first-gen email marketing SaaS company that he sold to Digital River in 2004. He has spoken at leading industry events including DMA, eTail, Shop.org, OMMA and Mediapost.
Jeremy attended Point Loma Nazarene University and lives in San Diego, CA with his wife and four children. He's an avid Husband, Dad, Entrepreneur, Runner, and Advocate of Mental Health. His other career ambitions involve supporting anti-human trafficking organizations & creating sustainable work in Africa through the use of technology, as well as helping other entrepreneurs successfully navigate the mental health journey of building a company.