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What will email marketing look like next year? We think it will be more data-driven, it will increasingly hone in on micro-moments and that content will be smarter than ever. Here’s a deeper dive into those predictions:

Campaigns will become even more data-driven

While sheer instinct was likely responsible for more than one successful early email marketing campaign, those days are gone.

“Gut feelings, internal politics, and other subjective factors still have big sway on email marketing budgets and priorities,” writes Chad S. White at the Litmus Blog. “However, brands are clearly moving toward decision-making that’s backed by performance data.”

“Data-driven email marketing is all about interpreting your data to better understand your prospects and customers,” writes Fulcrum Tech. “It also involves implementing an email marketing plan with the information and insights you gather to deliver relevant email campaigns that target each customer’s needs, preferences, and interests.”

We recently worked with Hilton on a data-driven campaign that featured a hyper-personalized email that went to Hilton Honors rewards program members. The message included each person’s number of stays, number of hotels visited and more. Along with driving open rates up by 70%, and click-throughs by 37%, the campaign yielded an $82 per-click conversion rate. Check out our case study for more.

Data will also play an increasingly important role in personalizing campaigns, something we took a close look at just a few weeks ago. “Data exists to help you make better informed decisions when it comes to your email marketing,” we wrote. “By looking at the behavioral and demographic patterns of your customers, you unlock valuable insights that allow you to connect with them on a much more personal level.”

Email marketers will increasingly engage customers during micro-moments

Think with Google identified micro-moments as the “highly critical and evaluative touchpoints where customers expect brands to cater their needs with reliable information, regardless of the time and location.”

The phrase describes a marketplace in which consumers are increasingly acting – including making purchases – within seconds of receiving information.

“Micro-moments occur when people reflexively turn to a device—increasingly a smartphone—to act on a need to learn something, do something, discover something, watch something, or buy something,” writes Google’s Sridhar Ramaswam. “They are intent-rich moments when decisions are made and preferences shaped. In these moments, consumers’ expectations are higher than ever. We want things right, and we want things right away.”

Cognizance of micro-moments has critical implications for marketers for email marketers.

“With micro-moment marketing, it’s important to objectively realize that your brand or product isn’t the center of your consumer’s world,” says Jonathan Lacoste at Inc. “The key of micro-moment marketing is to embrace the idea that you have but a few seconds to capture the attention of your target consumer.”

By leveraging tools like intelligent content and contextual content, email marketers can harness the power micro-moments have to engage customers and drive conversions.

“As new smart devices continue to emerge and as consumers embrace new, more natural ways to interact with those devices (like voice commands), the micro-moment behaviors mobile kick-started will only multiply,” writes Ramaswam. “And as data and machine learning become more sophisticated in enhancing everyday consumer experiences, the expectations for relevant, personalized, and assistive experiences will continue to skyrocket. We’re heading toward an age of assistance where, for marketers, friction will mean failure, and mass messages will increasingly mean ‘move on.’”

Content will keep getting smarter

Here at Movable Ink, we refer to “intelligent” content, but it’s also been called “smart” or “customer-centric” content.

By any name, we are talking about personalized information that is generated in real-time using any data you have and whatever business logic you need to create the perfect content for an individual recipient. Intelligent content has enormous engagement and conversion potential, and gives email marketers the unique ability to capitalize on micro-moments, as we discussed above.

Intelligent content leverages some of email marketing’s cutting-edge tools. According to the Content Marketing Institute, “intelligent content moves toward an advanced publishing process that leans on data and metadata, that coordinates content efforts across departmental silos, and that makes smart use of technology – including, increasingly, artificial intelligence and machine learning.”

Adds the CMI’s Karola Karlson, in a statement that, although relevant to today, manages to sound amazingly futuristic: “Artificial intelligence makes it possible to send personal curated emails to every single customer. By analyzing a customer’s reading patterns and topics of interest to recommend specific content most relevant to that person, AI-assisted emails could become even more engaging for every single subscriber.”

If intelligent content isn’t yet on your radar, it soon will be. For more information about this hot topic, check out our recent webinar and the follow-up Q&A that addresses many of the questions it sparked.