6 email marketing predictions for 2018

Jeff Slutz

60% of the time, we're right every time.
Shhhh…you hear that? Yep, Christmas bells are already ringing, and we’ll be singing Auld Lang Syne before you know it. For marketers, the time is now to get ready for 2018, so we asked some of the smartest folks around the Emma house for their predictions on what we can expect in the new year. Here are 6 trends to prepare for in 2018.
1. Focus on engagement, not acquisition – Colby Cavanaugh, Senior VP of Marketing
As we look toward 2018, understanding who your most engaged customers are, really serving them above all else, making sure you retain them, that they’re loyal, and that they’re brand advocates for you will be hugely important. Having a subscriber list that’s fully engaged is not only going to give you better results from a marketing perspective, but it’s going to give you higher priority in terms of reaching the inbox. Resist the temptation to be on the grow your audience treadmill, where it’s acquire, acquire, acquire all the time. Take a moment to focus, provide value, and be generous to your most engaged audience, and they’ll return the favor.
2. Optimize for accessibility – Logan Baird, Design Services Lead
One thing that marketers should be prepared for in 2018 is an increased focus on accessibility. We need to move past the minimum requirements (like alt text for images with content) and work on really optimizing our marketing content - from color contrast and font legibility to HTML markup - to make it inclusive and accessible to everyone in our respective audiences. Just turning on your phone’s accessibility options and exploring your own content through that lens is a great place to start.
Additionally, now that we know that interactive email is possible and it’s been out in the wild for a minute, I think we’ll see more conversations on how (or even if) to make use of it effectively.
3. Send fewer promos – Elizabeth Duffey, Senior Email Specialist
Discounts encourage one time purchases, but telling a story or providing valuable content creates an exciting and lasting relationship. The brands that stick to only sending promotional messages out into the world are going to fall behind. Consumers are smart. They know when they're being sold to, and they're overwhelmed with sales messages on a daily basis. The the only way to stand out is to connect and leave a lasting impression with fabulous content that they look forward to (even better if it's personalized).
4. Simplify your communications – Lee Floyd, Creative Director
This past year, like most in marketing, was all about doing more with less when it comes to your resources and marketing budget. But when thinking about email design in 2018, I believe less is more will be the trend. Simplifying your design, template, and messaging will not only help your team move faster, but it will create a more scannable email that looks great on all devices (there are A LOT now). Clarity and simplicity will be the ultimate differentiators when competing with top brands in the inbox.
5. Get explicit permission – Art Quanstrom, Deliverability & Compliance Lead
The importance of obtaining subscribers’ explicit permission will continue to increase. People are marketed to in every facet of their use of the Internet and, let’s face it, probably their entire lives. The ubiquity of marketing messages can lead to fatigue, and when that happens, you could lose the interest of your subscribers. Marketers who provide clarity, respect their subscribers’ time and attention, and provide relevant, engaging content will succeed in 2018. 
6. Embrace contextual email – Jamie Bradley, Customer Marketing Manager
I predict that more and more customers will use tools that integrate with their ESP to provide contextual email. Think things like a progress bar in a confirmation email that automatically updates the shipping status of something you ordered. Or maybe a poll or survey where the results update in real time. The way to stand out in the inbox is to be more relevant and useful than your competitors, and contextual email is one (really cool) tactic to do just that. 
Have some email marketing predictions of your own? Let's hear 'em!

About the Author

Jeff Slutz

Jeff is a senior content writer at Emma. When he’s not geeking out over email marketing, he enjoys jogging short distances, chowing down on Mom’s cooking, appreciating a beautiful jump shot, and telling anyone who listens how underrated Ohio is. Usually not at the same time.

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