Predictions for the Future of Email Marketing

Digital marketing completely transformed how marketing teams not only worked on their promotions, but how they viewed their audience members.

With a bigger reach came greater responsibilities, and, over the last few years, it’s become clearer that technology is going to make an impact in the industry.

In fact, over the past decade, digital advertising has become a booming industry, and it’s only continuing to grow.

Worldwide digital advertising revenue forecast

Digital marketing has continued to transform as technology has continued to update. Digital advertising has now taken on a new meaning, and digital marketing has since taken its place.

Digital marketing is a marketing tactic that houses several different options, including:

  • Digital advertising
  • Social media
  • Email marketing and more
Share of marketing tactics small business owners plan to use in 2019

Of all the digital marketing tactics that’ve emerged over the last few decades, email marketing has remained one of the top preferred marketing methods for marketing teams, despite recent interest in the possibilities that social media marketing can provide.

How email marketing has changed

Email has evolved several times since its initial conception in the 1970s. What started as a simple way to send messages between office co-workers has since become one of the top methods for marketers to reach their customer base.

However, in recent years, we’ve noticed that email marketing has, once again, changed and moved away from being a simple advertising method. Now your customers expect more from you than promotional content.

They expect you to decrease promotional content and increase your informational content. If you don’t, then you risk losing valuable members of your email list. Marketing thought leaders have been talking about email marketing for some time now, and we must lean in and listen to what they have to say.

Why we’re listening to thought leaders

Thought leadership is a type of content marketing where we can tap into the experiences of those who are considered authoritative leaders in our industry. Not only are they able to make predictions for the industry based on their personal insider information, but thought leaders can use their experience, combine it with what’s worked (and what hasn’t), and make valuable predictions that can catapult us into the future. Even better, many of these predictions can remain relevant for many years to come, like the ones we’ve been presented with in years past.

Back in 2015, ten leading experts looked into their crystal balls to see what the future held for email marketing and made some bold predictions.

Don’t be fooled; the predictions made in 2015 are still very relevant today. Don’t believe us? Then check them out for yourself.

Prediction 1

A second coming of age for email marketing

Email marketing was ignored, under-resourced, and declared uncool (and even dead) during the rise of social media.

Chad White – Litmus

It has always been the workhorse behind ecommerce, but now email marketing has become a driving force behind content.

Email marketing has also become central to mobile strategies. Reading email has been the #1 activity on smartphones for a long time, and the growing adoption of responsive email design is boosting smartphone conversion rates to make the most of this opportunity.

Reading emails on smartphones remains the #1 activity and responsive design will help skyrocket conversion rates

Example of email on smartphone

The email industry is experiencing a wave of integration, where ESPs are being melded into customer relationship management and enterprise resource planning suites.

Email marketing isn’t just the number 1 digital marketing channel; it’s also companies’ top source of data for analytics. So it’s not only a powerful channel on its own, but the data generated from email marketing helps power other marketing efforts by providing actionable data insights.

Together, these advancements have elevated email marketing’s stature and gotten it very close to achieving the 1-to-1 marketing paradigm, as brands are increasingly empowered to facilitate customer journeys and maximize lifetime value. But it’s not just that it’s getting well-deserved attention again, and email marketing is actually cool again.

The cumulative effect of all of these developments is that email marketing will experience a second coming of age during 2021.

Prediction 2

Gmail will fix its biggest flaw.

My prediction is that Gmail will add style support to their webmail clients and media query support to their mobile apps. This will allow email designers, marketers, and ESPs to finally provide a great experience to Gmail users on desktop and mobile.

Alex Williams – Trendline Interactive

The reason this is even an issue is because 80% of Gmail users access their accounts via mobile and desktop email clients, but the remaining 20% open emails in the webmail, which offers little to no support for CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), which can result in broken emails in Gmail.

Gmail will add style support.

Email with and without style support

The email community has been very vocal at various online and public forums where Google product managers were present, and their answers were, “It’s on the roadmap,” or, “We hear you.” We can tell by their testing of a “mobile-friendly” button in their apps that they feel the experience is subpar.

I predict Gmail finally adopts some increased standards and support across their family of email clients, setting off celebrations around the globe. Then we all can go back to just complaining about Outlook.

Prediction 3

Hyper-targeted emails will become the norm.

People are looking for unique and personalized experiences every time they interact with their favorite brands. As your user base grows, this becomes extremely difficult. Managing thousands or even millions of email conversations is simply too difficult for teams, even big ones, to manage.

Daniel Codella – ZURB

Fortunately, email automation allows you to craft and send personal, yet automated messages to your customers based on their behavior. This ensures your message is relevant, timely, and engaging.

I think we’ll continue to see email automation tools become even more useful, offering email marketers more ways to creatively use them. We can expect to see more integration with apps and products, allowing marketers to send emails based on not only in-app behavior, but other interactions.

We’ll also see an ever-expanding list of triggers, allowing us to send targeted messages based on all sorts of details, completely customized to the individual user, and giving greater context to our messages.

Trigger-based campaigns enable targeting like never before.

 Email campaign example

The goal of all of this is not to bombard people with more emails. The goal is to send them the right message at the right time, the most valuable content right when they need and want it.

It’s an exciting time to be an email marketer!

Prediction 4

Email templates will finally offer limitless control.

I’m expecting a big year for modular template design. For those that don’t know what modular template design is, you can think of it like Lego building blocks that you can pull in, rearrange, and use, depending on the type of email and content you are sending.

Elliot Ross – Action Rocket

The goal is to be able to quickly and easily edit designs without having to start from scratch, allowing you to improve quality and consistency.

With email automation becoming more easily accessible to big and small companies, marketers need an editable alternative where they can have versions of the same template, instead of each one being different, heavy, and complex.

Modular templates are convenient because you are able to continue to segment quickly and cost-effectively, saving time using WYSIWYG editors, only editing content manually or dynamically to suit each segment and purpose. This means personalized, relevant, and timely emails for each subscriber.

One template will provide infinite design options.

 Drag-and-drop email editor

Using an editor also means that you can fix whichever modules you like for every send, such as headers and footers, allowing you to build a nearly infinite number of emails.

All the time spent designing and testing individual templates will be a thing of the past because modular template design will rule.

Email templates will finally offer limitless control.

Prediction 5

Get ready for insane personalization.

This will be the year that email marketers start to take automation seriously. Until now, most have dabbled with low-scale automation across the most lucrative customer touchpoints and experiences—examples include cart abandonment emails and welcome messages.

Philip Storey – Enchant

Many marketers have found success through these simple automated campaigns, but there is so much more potential. Email marketers will know when they are heading in the right direction, as more of their time will be spent on automation, versus scheduled campaigns and email broadcasts.

Marketers will deliver insanely personal experiences.

 Email personalization example

What does this mean for consumers? Consumers demand a personalized and relevant experience across all channels—automation is, by far, the most effective way to deliver this through email marketing.

Prediction 6

The era of coding HTML emails is dead.

Email marketing is the most powerful channel in a marketer’s toolkit. Over the past few decades, we’ve seen several fundamental shifts in email marketing—from text-only emails to multimedia content, from desktop to predominantly mobile.

Kraig Swensrud

This year, we’ll see another major revolution for email marketing. As the year coding emails becomes a thing of the past, and email design becomes drop-dead simple.

Powerful drag-and-drop technology will unleash the email designer in everyone and enable marketers around the world to create professional email marketing campaigns that deliver results.

We’ve ushered in a whole new era of email design. Modern emails have edge-to-edge designs, filling up the screen, no matter what size, device, or inbox.

Modern emails have big, bold hero banners with engaging, interactive content and clear calls to action. Modern emails are relevant, serving up personalized content to each user when, where, and how they want it.

Anyone can now create beautiful, professional email campaigns.

Variety of email examples

With the rise of email marketing technology, anyone can now create beautiful, professional email campaigns with drag-and-drop technology. Gone are the days of needing to know HTML code or Photoshop to design a professional-looking email. No one will start from scratch. Mobile-responsive templates, designed for business use cases, will enable anyone to spin up email marketing campaigns in a matter of minutes and drive their business forward.

Prediction 7

Interactive emails will elevate brand experiences.

True user interactivity within email and powerful animations beyond animated GIFs, sometimes called kinetic email, allows marketers to create eye-catching and engaging campaigns that stand out in a recipient’s inbox.

Justin Khoo – FreshInbox

Having its beginnings with simple experiments (such as image rollovers and falling snow animations), kinetic emails are beginning to feature increasingly ambitious interactive designs. Well-known brands such as Pret, Lego, Nest, and B&Q in the UK are realizing the potential for kinetic to elevate their brand experience in customers’ inboxes.

Interactive emails will elevate brand experiences.

 Interactive email example

Not only will more readers be able to view advanced kinetic content in email, but the capabilities kinetic offers will become more relevant.

Kinetic email offers companies new ways to express their brand identity and engage with customers. It’s only a matter of time before this new medium becomes mainstream.

Prediction 8

Animation will drive epic email engagement.

There’s one thing I predict: the power of animation and interactivity in emails. Interactive, CSS3 animations in emails will revitalize emails and provide them a fresh, new life. Animation and interactivity provide more opportunity for engagement, but can also improve open and click-through rates.

Jaymin Bhuptani – Email Monks

Interactive emails provide meaningful interaction right in the inbox. With animation, emails receive a new shape and structure, creating a great psychological impact leading to enhanced interaction.

Animation will increase interaction and engagement with emails.

Animated email example

Earlier on, not many email clients supported attractive animations, but that’s not the case anymore. Although email clients haven’t advanced as much as web browsers, I see them supporting many more aspects of animation in the coming year.

Overall, email as a channel has so much to see. I’m quite optimistic about the advancement of interactive emails.

Prediction 9

Email campaigns will predict the content you want.

One of the things that marketers are constantly struggling with is optimizing their campaigns, with the objective of being able to deliver emails that are valuable to the consumer.

Kath Pay – Holistic Email Marketing

For the past couple of years, automation and personalization have featured heavily on the email marketer’s agenda to implement, and now machine learning simply takes both of these one step further, with the end result being 1:1 emails that have been optimized for each individual based upon their actions and interactions with websites and emails.

Machine learning will result in 1:1 optimized emails.

Machine learning will take personalized content to a new level.

Machine learning is when algorithms are applied to data and these insights are used to make predictions or decisions of what content to serve based upon the insights gained from the data, as opposed to following an explicit set of instructions designated by the marketer.

Although machine learning has been around for a while and has been used extensively within ecommerce sites like, it’s really only just beginning to take off in email marketing when being applied to data mining.

Essentially, machine learning allows email marketers to not only deliver 1:1 emails to individuals—emails that are personalized to that specific individual with ease—but also to be continually learning and improving the results. The more data that is available, the more accurate, personalized, and valuable the results are.

Machine learning allows our programs to evolve and improve over time, without it being too labor-intensive. So be prepared to see more machine learning technology available and start planning to avail yourselves of it.

Prediction 10

Marketers will triumph when automation and email unite.

In 2016, we’ll see the fields of email marketing and marketing automation come together. Marketers will move from sending simple newsletters to segmented and personalized emails campaigns.

Jordie van Rijn

We’ll see that more marketers will adopt behavior-triggered email and lead nurturing/scoring. Research by the DMA showed that triggered and behavioral driven marketing drive more revenue than in previous years, with a reduction in batch and blast email marketing.

Automation and email are coming together for the do-it-yourself marketer.

 Email automation example

Forty-nine percent of marketers are currently using some form of marketing automation. But marketers with the dream of complete marketing automation of everything over all channels and touchpoints are bound to be rudely awoken. There, we have both Need and Reality as the force, toning down inflated expectations and “Cloudy Dreams of Big Data.”

Coming back to earth, email and automation will be coming together for a pick and mix. But don’t be sad—the marketer is the winner here, getting more possibilities to do more advanced campaigns easily.

Key Aspects to Email Marketing Campaigns

On any given day, most of our email inboxes are flooded with a barrage of automated email newsletters that do little else besides giving us another task to do on our commutes to work -- namely, marking them all as unread without reading or unsubscribing altogether.

It may not seem like a good idea to add to all the noise. However, according to Marketing Guru's - the average ROI for email marketing is $38 for every $1 spent. Needless to say, email is an important component of a marketing strategy, and its success relies largely on how well you craft your email campaigns.

What is an email marketing campaign?

An email marketing campaign consists of planned content distributed via email with the goal of accomplishing a specific goal for the organization. It's important that an email campaign's recipients have opted in to receive this content and that each piece offers something valuable.

Here are some examples of different purposes your email campaign may set out to accomplish:

  • Traffic generation - Email can be an effective promotion channel for the high-value content you create on your website.
  • Awareness - Not everyone who opts into your email list is ready for a purchasing decision. You can use email marketing to stay top of mind while providing the educational content that is most relevant to them.
  • Lead nurturing - As you stay top of mind, you may also consider ways to identify the leads you have with the highest purchase intent and provide conversion-focused content that "nurtures" them toward a sale (or at least toward becoming sales-ready).
  • Revenue generation - You can create email marketing campaigns for your existing customers to promote upsell and cross-sell opportunities. You can also create campaigns to capture a sales conversion from leads who are close to a purchasing decision. (One example might be creating "abandon cart" campaigns for recovering lost sales conversions.)

      Steps to follow:

  1. Understand who you're emailing.
  2. Create a goal for the campaign.
  3. Outline the email or emails that will be included in the campaign.
  4. Spend time on the subject lines.
  5. Write copy that's suited for them.
  6. Use a comprehensive email builder.
  7. Include personalization elements and excellent imagery.
  8. Include calls-to-action where appropriate.
  9. Test your emails and make sure they work on all devices.


1. Understand who you're emailing.

Have you ever heard the saying from Meredith Hill, "When you speak to everyone, you speak to no one"? What Hill is getting at here is that if you're watering down your message to apply to your entire audience, you're leaving opportunity on the table -- opportunity for creating high-value, specific, relevant content that speaks directly to the recipient. 

With this in mind, the key to a great email marketing campaign is identifying your audience and using email segmentation to ensure you're delivering to the right people at the right time. If you can accomplish this and build it into your strategy, you can get more creative and specific with your messaging.


2. Create a goal for the campaign.

Even with email marketing being a relatively low-risk and high-reward activity, you don't want to send emails for emails' sake. In other words, you won't be successful simply because you marked it from your to-do list. 

Instead, you should be intentional about what you want to get from your emails because that will help you target the right audience and build the right emails. For example, if you know you want to nurture leads from MQL to SQL, you can create a segment of MQLs and create content that is educational and persuasive enough to move them closer to a buying decision.


3. Outline the email or emails that will be included in the campaign.

Once you know who you're emailing and why, it's time to strategize how to move them from A (where they are) to B (where you want them to be, the goal of the campaign). 

Keep in mind that you can't expect a single email to do everything. Your email campaign can be made up of multiple emails, so consider taking your email recipients on a journey with each email serving a single purpose. This will increase the odds of each email being successful in its role toward reaching your goal.  After all, "A confused mind says no."

For example, if you're doing a lead nurturing campaign, you might have a few educational emails to take them from the awareness stage to the consideration stage before providing more conversion-focused content.

The longer the buying process and sales cycle, the more emails you'll need.


4. Spend time on the subject lines.

No one gets to the body content of your email unless they first click the subject line. That's why it's so important to consider your subject lines carefully: They're like gatekeepers for the rest of your information. 


5. Write copy that's suited for them.

Once you know the purpose of each email you're sending and you have the subject lines, you can write the copy that will engage your list. Consider where your audience is in their buying journey and provide the type of content that they'll find useful. For example, it doesn't make sense to promote products if you're emailing a segment of subscribers who are largely in the awareness stage of the buying journey.


6. Use a comprehensive email builder.

Once you've written the copy for your emails, you'll want to build them out in the email software client you're intending to use. InsighGene helps you with that.

With a comprehensive email builder, you can create, optimize, and personalize your own email campaigns without needing any technical or graphic design experience.


7. Include personalization elements and excellent imagery.

Marketing emails need to be personalized to the reader and filled with interesting graphics.

Few people want to read emails that are addressed "Dear Sir/Madam" -- as opposed to their first or last name -- and even fewer people want to read an email that simply gives them a wall of text. Visuals help your recipients quickly understand the point of the email.


8. Include calls-to-action where appropriate.

Remember, if you're taking up your audience's time -- and inbox space -- with another email, your message must have a point to it. Consider what you want your email recipients to take away from the email. 

In most cases, you'll want to add a call-to-action (CTA) for them to take further action.

Your goal behind the CTA may vary depending on the audience's buyer's journey stage and what you want to accomplish with your email campaign. For example, you may simply want to engage them further with another piece of content, or you might want to get them to make a purchase.

Regardless of what it is, you should follow CTA best practices such as making the ask with clear language and emphasizing it with contrasting design elements.


9. Test your emails and make sure they work on all devices.

Once your emails are built out, check them over before hitting the send button. Effective email marketing campaigns are designed for all devices on which users can read their emails -- desktop, tablet, and mobile. Consider sending them as a test to a colleague and checking them across multiple devices and email clients.