Who Said Email is Dead and Content is Crap?
2009 brought about premonitions and battle cries for the death of email. It had come, it had reigned supreme, but like the Great Roman Empire, it would meet its demise with the rise of social media and mobile communication technologies. Not that the Romans were destroyed by Twitter, but you get it.
John C. Dvorak of
PC Magazine went so far as to say, "
Email is a carcass on the side of the information highway, rotting away." However, to this day the foreboding prophecies remain unfulfilled. And in fact, email is more relevant now than ever, for consumers and marketers alike.
A 2014 McKinsey & Company report found that email is almost 40x better at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter combined. In addition, 64% of B2B marketers state that increasing email click-through and open rates are among their top priorities this year, with 88% citing email as their most effective lead-generation tactic (see: Forbes).
The email market is still expanding. According to the Radicati Group, the number of email accounts worldwide sits at a whopping 4.1 billion and is expected to grow 27% by 2018. The number of current email users comes in at a cool 2.5 billion and is expected to jump up 12%, also by 2018. That means one-third of the world's population will be on email in just three years.
At $44 per every dollar spent on average, statistics show that email marketing continues to deliver the highest ROI of any digital marketing tactic. SEO comes in at the #2 spot. Mobile is dominating digital and shaping the way we live our lives. And as a result, half of all email users are able and willing to check their email countless times every single day.
So let's state the obvious: email is not dead. It's growing.
In fact, in recent years the dramatic rise of content marketing has only strengthened the importance of email communication. And in the harmonious union between content and email, we expect a powerful marketing medium to continue maturing, growing, and evolving.
The following are three trends that we already see taking shape in 2015:
1. Email newsletters will become even more popular
This topic has received some good coverage, starting late last year with this FastCompany piece. Since then, there has been a wave of reporting and research on this, including a look at the sharp rise of curated email newsletters.
Newsletters are now seen as one of the most important interactions a brand can have with its audience. Understanding the trends and takeaways from your newsletter is crucial to defining your content strategy and provides the double bonus of list-building/lead-generation activities. Two standouts in the field are Quibb, for personal networks, and Circulate.it for internally curated newsletters. Curated.co is also firing onto the scene and gaining some serious momentum.
2. We will see more companies trying to reinvent our inboxes
We know the established players will keep experimenting with new experiences for our inboxes. Google will keep updating Gmail and will also keep sending invites to their new Inbox app. Dropbox will also keep iterating Mailbox. But this should just be the beginning.
Who will be the Google Inbox or Mailbox app of 2015? That's still to be determined, but we do know there is a strong desire for more privacy in the email world and that's spurring the development of NSA-proof mailbox startups like ProtonMail.
3. The rise of notification-first user interfaces is happening
We live in a notification-driven world. From social media apps to the Internet of Things, notifications will continue to increase. But with the latest versions of iOS, Mac OSX, Android, Google Chrome browser, and others, we are seeing notifications as the next frontier for user interface design. We
are leaving behind a world of app icons and red circle alert bubbles for a more centralized contained experience, and it feels damn good.
Putting this all together, we expect to see more newsletters that we will consume through new inbox experiences, and a decline in notifications and multi-service messages, as those types of notifications and messages will be moving out of our inboxes and into their own user experiences.
In 2015, we'll get back to the basics. We'll seek out and use the best tools for effective communication, messaging, targeting, and customer connections. Email is one of those tools, if not the best. As always, message and timing are immensely important, and we have to take into account what the customer cares about.
This is where content meets email, and together, they become a powerhouse. Great stories mean great relationships. And great relationships, well, those mean sales.