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Email Marketing: A Look Back at the 5 Biggest Trends in 2016

Posted by Chris Winter on Dec 21, 2016 11:01:36 AM

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Early in 2016 we highlighted the 5 major trends that we predicted would have the greatest impact on Email Marketing in 2016. As we approach the end of the year, and before we unveil a set of predictions for 2017, we thought we should take a look back and see, to which degree, these predictions came true.

  1. The Mobile Shift

Prediction:  We predicted that with the recent growth in mobile device users that more marketers would put to use the huge amounts of data generated, to perform greater behavioural analysis and campaign personalization.

Outcome: Mobile phones have become one of the primary ways in which people around the globe communicate with each other. In 2016 eMarketer estimated that 80.9% of the US population will use a mobile phone at least once per month, compared with 80.7% of Canada’s population. Marketers are well aware of this and Forrester Research and reported that 91% of retailers already have a mobile strategy in place. Retailers especially, have realized that there is great opportunity in mobile to lead shoppers down the path of making a purchase decision. However, according to a 2016 survey conducted by Econsultancy, while 76% of marketers are implementing basic segmentation only 15% of marketers are using behavioural targeting (based on web activity). This suggests that the majority of marketers have a ways to go before they are optimally targeting their customers.


  1. The Rise of Contextual Marketing

Prediction:  We predicted that relevance, perceived value, and context would be key components to increasing consumer engagement, and that personalized advertisements and recommendations would become more valuable in 2016.

Outcome: Email marketing at a local level has become an effective way for businesses to market to customers that are within close proximity to their stores and franchises. While technology is making it easier to provide more targeted content that is relevant to consumers, we still aren’t seeing brands adopt localized marketing on a mass scale - yet. According to eMarketer, marketing technology is slowly working its way onto the agendas of marketing executives. When asked about the technologies they were interested in exploring, 41% of US national-to-local marketing decision makers said they were interested in exploring mobile push offerings while nearly a third mentioned real-time location data. Look for this trend to continue in 2017!



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  1. Increased Testing & Science

Prediction:  We predicted that in 2016 marketers would expand their testing capabilities in both breadth and depth. 

Outcome:  We saw more marketers graduate from established testing best practices, including A/B test strategies and multivariate testing, to more cutting-edge areas of creative learning including eye-tracking testing. This doesn’t mean marketers have abandoned established methods of testing, but rather marketers are incorporating these new approaches, like eye-tracking, into their tool box, enabling them to conduct more personalized testing through the measurement of viewability, stickiness, etc.


  1. Data, Analytics, & Insights – A Winning Trio

Prediction:  We predicted that in 2016, when it came to data and its analysis, marketers would attempt to narrow their focus, acting on key data points. They would also become more selective in the data they collect, discerning what’s interesting vs. what’s valuable.

Outcome: In 2016, with increasing access to marketing data, marketers have been able to refine their personalization efforts more and more. According to eMarketer, well over half of US marketers are carrying this out through their emails and website and we, at Inbox Marketer, assisted more clients with identifying specific program goals, prioritizing the components required to achieve them.

Retailers have been particularly big on this, creating email content that factors in gender, location, age and more. Valuable data, when used correctly, enabled brands in 2016 to create more personalized and relevant messaging.


  1. A Push for Marketing Automation

Prediction: We predicted that in 2016 marketers would put more resources towards Marketing Automation.

Outcome: Marketing automation is technology that automates and streamlines your day to day marketing tasks so that you can efficiently increase brand recognition and drive customer traffic. Marketing automation also helps to reduce your workload, enabling you to spend more time on strategy and analysis, thereby increasing the value you can provide to your customers.

According to EmailMonday, on average 49% of companies are currently using Marketing Automation. With more than half of B2B companies (55%) adopting the technology.  Furthermore, according to Marketo & Ascend2, 91% of the most successful users agree that marketing automation is “very important” to the overall success of their marketing across channels.


With only a few days left in 2016, be sure to check back early in 2017 for our look at the 5 Major Factors Impacting Digital Marketing in 2017!

Happy Holidays!

Topics: Testing, context marketing, Email Marketing, Marketing Automation, Email Marketing Trends

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