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Email marketing has a reputation of being a boring direct response channel, always on the verge of “death” at the hands of the latest digital touch point, which gets heralded as the “future of messaging”.

Yet email trudges on, consistently ranking at the highest level for ROI. Despite the death threats, companies are attributing 23% of their total sales to email, up from 18% in 2013.

In the face of newer digital channels, email has thrived in its role as the unassuming, reliable touch point for marketers to engage with customers.

So how will the elder statesman of digital marketing change in a continuously evolving digital ecosystem?

Here are a number of ways marketers think email will be used in the near future and beyond. 

Looking ahead five years, what do you think the single biggest change to email marketing will be?

But if you can’t decipher all of that, these four points should give you a steer in the right direction.

All email communication will be fully personalised

With increased abilities to curate and filter information to an individual’s preference, consumers are becoming progressively idiosyncratic in the content they engage with.

Recognising that batch and blast email campaigns are decreasing in their effectiveness, marketers are now experimenting with ways of personalising email content.

However, according to 78% of the respondents who took part in Econsultancy and Adestra’s Email Marketing Industry Census published last month, in the next five years all email communication will be personalised.

Email communication will be completely personalised statistics

While this may seem like a lofty ambition, the winds of change are already blowing in this area. The census also shows that one in three companies are already engaging in content personalisation, a 27% increase from last year, with 37% planning to include this as part of their email marketing activities. 

The email address will become the key to cross-channel marketing

Covered in fine detail by Parry Malm, a new targeting method is available on Facebook, Twitter and in email newsletters called Custom Audiences (or tailored audiences if you are Twitter).

Using the email lists you already own, these platforms allow marketers to send targeted ads to users your organisation already has a relationship with. 

Rather than wasting spend on demographic ad buys, the feature creates opportunities to send targeted ads to users in any way deemed fit, whether it’s as broad as all the users on your newsletter list or as specific as customers who have bought a product within the last 48 hours.

The key here is using the email address as an identifier to engage with customers on different channels.

With customers using their email addresses to sign up for most online activities, it is not inconceivable to see variations of this method being adopted by different platforms, creating more opportunities to integrate campaigns across multiple networks.

Email will be completely integrated with other marketing channels

Custom Audiences is just an example of how businesses will be able to integrate email going forward. However, marketers seem to think there is plenty more on the horizon in relation to integration.

In fact, 85% of respondents to the Email Census agree with the notion that email will be fully integrated with other marketing channels in five years’ time.

What this will look like exactly is a little less clear. When asked if they thought there will be one single technology platform for all marketing including email, marketers were clearly divided in their opinions:

There will be one single technology platform for all marketing, statistics

While it is clear that email’s value will become increasingly linked to its performance when used with other marketing channels, complete integration with other marketing channels may a bit too ambitious within a five year span.

There are a number of significant challenges to integrated marketing and while some may be relatively simple to address and solve, issues pertaining to strategy, the integration of databases and the changing of culture can take several years.

Automated email campaigns will drive a majority of campaigns

Automation technology has been around for some time, yet most companies fail to maximise its abilities.

Although an increase in automation activities may have been responsible for a rise in the number of emails sent out, most companies only use a handful of automated triggers.

However, as email continues to become more integrated with other marketing activities and as email marketers continue to battle with time constraints, we will seem more campaigns being automated.

This will not only make it easier for email to work with multiple channels based on consumer activity or behaviour, but it should also help marketers save precious time to focus on their other responsibilities. 

I am sure there are other ways the use of email will change between now and 2019. Write a comment and let me know if you think I missed anything.

For more insights into current trends and the future of email, grab a copy of the Econsultancy/Adestra Email Marketing Industry Census.

Bola Awoniyi

Published 21 April, 2014 by Bola Awoniyi @ Econsultancy

Bola Awoniyi is a Digital Consultant at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

26 more posts from this author

Comments (4)



Email is also becoming more visual. Marketers are incorporating gifs into templates, and Gmail is adopting the visual grid view.

over 2 years ago

Mike Austin

Mike Austin, CEO at Triggered Messaging

Agreed about emails being fully personalized. There's great returns to be had. The main barrier to doing this is technology - there's a lot of moving parts involved in getting this to happen without huge manual work or without a specialist vendor (like us).

I'd add an extra point to the article - it's a great idea to use the same behavioral data to personalize your website, in addition to the email campaigns. This doubles your return, and makes the whole experience consistent for shoppers. We wrote a short blog about this a couple of weeks ago:


over 2 years ago

Matthew Marceau

Matthew Marceau, Customer Service at Emassagechair.com

We're in the beginning phases of doing our email marketing, are there any recommended tools for email marketing analytics. Like was the email opened, what content was most valuable, etc..

over 2 years ago



Great article! Absolutely agree with everything especially the growing importance of personalization and cross-channel marketing integration.

In response to @Matthew's comment, there are some great email marketing and sales and marketing tool out there. Give InTouch a go (http://www.intouchcrm.com/) . We offer a fully integrated marketing tool, unlimited contacts database and a great analytics feature. You will be able to track the progress of your campaigns through metrics such as how many emails have been opened, how many have been delivered, how man have been registered as spam, what links have been clicked by prospects etc.

No strings attached, sign up for a free trial here (http://www.intouchcrm.com/) and get a feel of the system for yourself. Let us know how you get on! Didi

over 2 years ago

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