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The Future of Digital Marketing: What’s Next for Email?

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Email marketing has the potential to outperform all other marketing channels – a big statement in today’s world of social media campaigns and a millennial generation of whom 44% are willing to promote products and services via social platforms. According to the Markedu State of European Email Marketing Report, email marketing has a ROI of 30:1 whereas social media sits at 20:1.

The catch, however, is that once you have mastered email marketing – which takes trial and error, a strategic plan and an in-depth understanding of your customers – the battle is far from over. In the ever-evolving digital world, keeping up with trends in email marketing is just as important as mastering the technique in the first place.  

Luckily for you, experienced professionals have shared their insights on the future of email marketing giving you a tactical head start in staying in the loop and keeping up with trends: 

  • Mobile first approach
  • The use of video in email
  • Interactive emails
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Data Protection

Mobile First Approach

If you are not already using a mobile first approach within your email marketing campaign, now is the time to step up. Most people check their email on the go; with 75% stating they use their smartphones as their primary resource to check their inboxes. This means that templates used need to be mobile compatible and designed to fit well across every inbox. Even small details need to be considered, such as shortening your subject line to fit smaller screens, creating sizeable buttons for chunky fingers and including pleasing visuals with a fair ratio of image and text. 

The Use of Videos in Email

Videos in general have a high influencing power and are huge on social media. Just think of Facebook – how many videos do you see on your page? Chances are it is a fair amount. Now think of how many ads you see before your video, or annoyingly, during your video? The clever marketers brand their advertisements to appear as ‘stories’ as opposed to traditional online ads. Statistics state that marketers who use video grow revenue 49% faster than non-video users. So, it is no surprise that a similar approach of using video in email is fast becoming a reality.

Marketers will have to focus on creating compelling videos that serve a genuine purpose to their customers. The main benefit here is that videos allow for a greater playing field and are often much more powerful than text and image alone. Plus, it appears people love video. Marketers can see a 19% boost in open rates when video is mentioned in the subject line. Imagine the possibilities of this combined with creating video content for your brand that genuinely engages customers?

Interactive Emails 

Interactive email, a segment included in any mobile first approach, is fast approaching. By having interactive emails, customers can do much more on the microsites inside emails, meaning they will not need to leave their email and enter another browser in order to navigate the company’s website. This is time-saving and thus beneficial for customers and, when things are made more convenient for customers, the marketer’s job is also made easier.

Artificial Intelligence

AI combined with clever automation is fast becoming the way of the future in many aspects. In the email marketing world, automation has already paved the way for well-timed triggers and smart nudges but, combine this with the recent developments of AI, and marketers have a major game changer. 

Not only will AI allow for optimisation, but for content in context. Thanks to data integration, in Newcastle where it is currently raining, Sarah will open her email to see rain coats on sale whereas in London where the sun is shining, John will see sunglasses on sale. With optimisation like this in the future, it helps to create a personal experience for the customer, thus improving 1-to-1 communication – which I must say is any marketer’s dream.

Data Protection

In May 2018, the EU saw a huge change in law on data handling that impacted how customer data is used and stored. Stricter laws on data handling will continue to progress alongside digital evolution, ensuring customers are kept safe. Major debates are already taking place in the USA between policy leaders and industries who are influenced by Europe’s changing landscape of data protection within the digital world. It will not be long before the rest of the world follows suit.

Key players, such as Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook are a prime example how implementing legislations such as GDPR are fast becoming a heated topic. Speaking in front of EU lawmakers in Brussels, he claimed “We at Apple are in full support of a comprehensive federal privacy law in the United States”.

Email marketing has several advantages, one of them being its ability to reach an audience from all over the world. For marketers, this means we must know where customers are from to ensure we are following the strict regulations from their country. As an example, if you are targeting customers in Europe, you need to provide a double opt-in process that gives precise information to your customer on what type of data you are gathering, where you will store this data and for how long.


By staying in the loop, it allows marketers to prepare for the future of email marketing to ensure they are not left behind in the ever-evolving world of technology. Successful email marketing begins with a strategic plan. However, it does not stop here, with continuous progressions in the field, new campaigns should be constantly updated to ensure marketers are keeping up with trends. Trends to look out for include the ever-evolving mobile first approach, the upcoming use of videos in email and a range of possibilities becoming available through the use of AI. Data protection is a huge factor to be considered and consequences of not keeping up with changes in law could end up being detrimental to businesses.

About the author


Michael Leander

Michael Leander is an award-winning international speaker, trainer, and consultant. As an expert in digital marketing covering a range of topics, Michael has 20 years’ worth of valued experience. His latest free eBook is an example of his expertise and guides you to success with email marketing.