Email is changing just as quickly as the rest of the online landscape. In just the past few years, we’ve seen the growth of features like video in email, the ability of customers to text to join an email list, and even virtual reality opt-ins.

As in so many other facets of life, we know that the only thing for certain is change itself.

We can look forward to email continuing to change rapidly in the coming years. If we look closely at the state of technology now and how things are evolving, we can get a better idea of the future of email marketing. Here’s what we know:

Emails Will become More Personalized

Right now, email personalization usually consists of inserting the person’s name in the “Dear ____” line using a software program that pulls from the subscriber list.

Emails can also be personalized by creating an automation program that sends people certain emails when they perform certain actions, such as a “thank you” note after a sale or a nudge email after a visit to the site.

In the future, there will be more email personalization based on user-intent signals. There is a wealth of data being collected right now on user behavior online, and marketers will soon be able to use that to send the right emails at just the right time.

By finding ways to increase email personalization, marketers will be able to get more sales and leads, giving them a much greater ROI for a commitment of less time and money.

Batch Emails Will Be No More

With the push toward more personalization, it only makes sense that the age of batch emails will soon be at an end.

Even smaller email batches will be a thing of the past. In the future, we are looking at every email being tailored to the individual.

When you have an email list of thousands (or even tens or hundreds of thousands), that may seem like a daunting task. Fortunately, personalizing each email does not mean manually writing and sending emails. The software will become smarter so that you can easily keep track of individual subscriber data and behavior and can then use a smart algorithm to send the right email.

The result will be that you get more user engagement with your email, which will net you a bigger return on your investment.

Increased Use of Artificial Intelligence

You know that scene in “Minority Report” where Tom Cruise walks into The Gap and a machine scans his retina to get a complete history of his shopping experience with the store and to make recommendations for his next purchases? Well, we aren’t there yet, but such a reality might not be too far off.

Artificial intelligence is becoming smarter and smarter, and it is being used in more areas of our life.

Assistants like Cortana and even Siri are already using artificial intelligence. Soon better artificial intelligence will be available for email marketing that will make it more personalized, more responsive and more effective.

Preparing for the Future

Even if some of these changes won’t be in full effect for many more years, there is plenty you can do now to start preparing for them so that you are a strong competitor.

To start, you need to have a system in place for collecting data. You need to look beyond your basic Google Analytics. You need to have a customer resource management system in which you are tracking all the data you collect about your customers, as well as any contacts you have with them. You also need to be using a data-collection service that uses cookies and other methods to track customer behavior online.

If you don’t already have these systems in place, you need to establish them now. By the time the technology is available to help you leverage customer data, you’ll have plenty of information to use.

Start developing a plan for the evolution of your email marketing. While you can’t know for certain what will happen in the future, you can stay informed about the latest changes and the predicted trends, which allows you to adjust your strategy as you go. Knowing what is expected to come means that you can make changes more quickly and you can be flexible in your approach.

Shift your thinking to how you can serve your individual subscribers, and start demanding to pay only for results from email marketing providers. The goal of the future will be to make an impact with individuals for a better ROI. Start thinking about your email campaigns in those terms now.

If you can make the right changes, you can make email the best way to reach your customers, both now and in the future. Make the most of this opportunity.