The peak of the holiday shopping crunch is upon us, and some marketers may still be in the midst of planning their holiday promotions and making sure their messages send to their email marketing lists without a hitch.
If you're using email marketing solutions like automation, however, and have your campaigns already mapped out and set to launch, perhaps you're ready to take a wider view of your email strategy and reassess your approach for the coming year. Here are six predictions for email marketing in 2014, so you can plan ahead for the challenges.
1. Mobile takes center stage
Companies can expect the ongoing trend of email reading on smartphones and tablets to gain more traction among consumers next year. In a column for Customer Think, LeadFormix co-founder Shreesha Ramdas predicted that mobile will become the primary platform marketers think about when they try to reach their customers via email.
"Going forward, best-in-class companies will design and time emails primarily for the mobile. Companies that frequently run email marketing campaigns will turn to responsive design email templates," Ramdas wrote.
2. Marketers continue to integrate email and social media
The benefits of a multichannel marketing approach that links email campaigns to social networking sites have been much discussed this year. In an online environment where consumers are plugged into a variety of platforms – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram - in addition to email, the strategy helps increase engagement and get a unified sense of a firm's brand out to customers. Ramdas predicted that 2014 would see an uptick in the number of marketing emails that include "share" and "like" buttons, as well as icons that link directly to companies' social media pages.
3. The inbox becomes more dynamic
On the technical side, responsive email design – the layout technique that leverages HTML5 coding to create messages that adapt to different types of screens – will go hand-in-hand with the mobile craze. In a post for ClickZ, Return Path Vice President of Professional Services Margaret Farmakis predicted that this advanced design strategy will put increased emphasis on the email inbox itself as a center of dynamic customer experience.
"An email message's ultimate goal was to drive an action away from the inbox to a more interactive, content-rich experience like a website or landing page. … HTML5 is fundamentally changing this by making the inbox a dynamic place where consumers can experience content directly," Farmakis noted.
4. Copy gets more concise
In fact, the visual elements of marketing emails may begin to take a more central role. In a social media-obsessed age, everyone is a source of content. Ramdas suggested that consumers have become "text-weary" in the current digital climate, and as such, conciseness will likely become a key virtue for email marketers, both in subject lines and the copy in the body of the email.
That's not to say that written content will become less important. Rather, the new challenge of email copywriting will be to frame an offer to near perfection, using as few words as possible while still communicating a sense of the company's brand to its email contact list.
5. Privacy and CAN Spam compliance grow more important
In the whirlwind that has followed revelations of the National Security Agency's cyberspying programs, consumers have grown more insistent on the privacy of their data. One of the most common fears among consumers is that the information they give to companies will be used in ways they didn't authorize. As such, it's essential that marketers build trust between themselves and their readers, and this means making sure that emails are in compliance with CAN Spam regulations.