To find out, we sent out a questionnaire to our subscriber base with six questions about email, the role it plays in the modern marketing strategy, how marketers feel about their grasp on the world of email martech, and if email is at risk of being disrupted by instant messaging.
Here’s what we found out.
Personalization is seen as the biggest change for email strategy
Our first port of call was to establish how significant email marketing still is to marketers today, and the verdict was: still very important. Of the 141 marketers who responded to the poll, two-thirds stated that email is”Extremely important” or”Very important” in the context of the wider strategy.
A further 20% of respondents reported that email is”Important, but not central”, while 13% said that it is”Not significant” or”Irrelevant”.
It has been reiterated over and over that email is still a tool for marketers even in the age of instant messaging and media, as the marketing industry establishes that no, email isn’t going away.
But while this result is surprising, it’s an important piece of context for our findings that are later. After all, if entrepreneurs did not consider email important for their overall plan, we could safely assume that any future adjustments to email would not have that much of an effect on the wider marketing industry.
When asked which of the recent trends in email are likely to impact most on their email marketing strategy, 30% of marketers responded with”Personalization”. Segmentation was a second, with 21 percent of marketers choosing this as the growth likely to impact their marketing.
Interactivity and HTML5 video were viewed as the least likely to have a significant impact, with just 7% and 5% of respondents stating that these trends will have the biggest impact on their email marketing.
Marketers are unsure where they stand on email technology
In a somewhat tongue-in-cheek question, we asked marketers how firm they consider their grasp of the martech universe to be when it comes to email, on a scale from”Like a vice” to”Limp”.
Our results showed that marketers are fairly evenly divided on martech between feeling unsure and feeling confident. While only 4 percent of respondents would describe their grip email marketing technology as vice-like, a comfy 28% consider their grasp on email tech to be a”firm handshake”, making 32% of entrepreneurs who feel as if they have a good grasp on the world of email martech.
On the other side of things, however, 7% of our advertising respondents described their grasp on email technology as”Limp”, with 28% saying that their grip is”Unsure, slightly moist” — making a total of 35 percent who apparently do not feel as if they completely understand the technology available to them or how to use it effectively.
With that said, the biggest group of respondents was that the one made up of entrepreneurs who were confused by our question — 32 percent of marketers replied simply with”What?”
Clearly the marketing industry needs to work on its own appreciation of handshake analogies.
In five years’ time, email will still be recognizable as email
What is going to email advertising look like in five years’ time? While we know that our readers aren’t psychic (otherwise they’d all be very well-off really ), we asked survey respondents to make a broad assessment about how much they think email will change in the next five decades.
Will it be significantly changed but still email, broadly the same, unchanged transformed, or non-existent?
The majority of our respondents believe that email will still be recognizable as email five years down the road. 38 percent of survey respondents stated that they think email will be”precisely the same with some inventions”, while a further 39% think that email will undergo”Major changes but with the very same fundamentals”.
Just about all of our respondents do believe that change will occur — just 2% said that there’ll be no change to email whatsoever in the coming five decades.
This sounds like a fairly safe bet to make given that email has been around in some form for four and a half decades now (if we take 1971, the year the initial email was sent across a network, as the year of its creation ), and as we’ve established, doesn’t appear to be moving away.
While email is no longer the only option we have for communicating over the internet by any means, it still manages to offer something that instant messaging, website-specific direct messaging, SMS and social media don’t.
Email can be informative or professional, personal or brief; it can send updates, newsletters, RSS feeds, files and invitations directly to your computer, smartphone or wearable device, and integrates seamlessly with other organizational systems. As one respondent wrote at the close of the survey,”Mail as a system of data storage and note-keeping is too vital for all age groups to go away.”
And as a marketing channel, it gets results.
Over the years that, as we have established, marketers expect to have a big effect on their overarching strategy, email has undergone some changes at the exact same time. It can now be optimized for mobile. Rich media can bring it to life, while AI and machine learning have brought about huge improvements in personalization and campaign fine-tuning.
With all this in mind, it is not surprising that most marketers do not foresee email being replaced by instant messaging. 67 percent of marketers said no, when asked whether they believe that email is at risk of being replaced by instant messaging.
However, over a quarter (26%) said yes — which isn’t an insignificant portion. (The remaining 7% did not answer).
1 respondent wrote:”Instant messaging is bad — long live email!”
Another pointed out,
“Instant messaging is a powerhouse, but it’s the last level of privacy/direct to consumer. People do not want their phones getting spam houses so they’ll be extremely selective.”
One marketer believed that email might be in danger of dying out in some specific contexts. “I think email will remain important for person to person communication, and business to business communication, but I think that the business to person communication use of email will diminish or cease to exist.”
Do you agree? What’s your take on the future of email over the next five years? Leave a comment below and join the dialogue.
The post What does the future hold for email? We asked our readers appeared initially on ClickZ.