Mid-last year, a TechCrunch article titled "You can't kill email" was published on its website. At Liveclicker, we could not agree more. Communications technology moves at ever-increasing rates and has changed how people connect in the digital age, but nothing has been able to replace email as the backbone of online communications. Even Slack, the heralded "email killer," relies on email to notify users of updates.

So, if even the best digital communication systems still use email for certain features, how can we believe that inbox marketing is dead? There are very few systems that do not use email addresses for the all-important password retrieval. A year ago, 70% of consumers surveyed by MarketingSherpa indicated that email was their most preferred medium for receiving business-to-consumer correspondence. It is a big stretch to say that email has lost that favor so quickly.

As email marketing has matured, the channel has evolved from generalized batch sending to hyperpersonalized campaigns using known and contextual data for content customization. Today, forward-looking email marketers are incorporating real-time content into the customer email lifecycle to improve personalization for every recipient. HTML standards in mainstream email clients like Gmail have relaxed to allow for video and kinetic design techniques to improve the recipient experience as well.

Moving forward into 2017, the combination of real-time contextual content and known data will be the next stage for advanced email campaigns. An example of that isa retailer that uses email to promote products based on a customer's purchase history. The purchase history is used to decide what brand of product to promote in the email, and contextual email technology can detect the opener's location in real time and display the nearest location to pick up the item. Or an online travel company could embellish seasonal travel specials with live weather forecasts of tropical vacation destinations, enticing recipients to fly toward warmer weather.

Today, email content can be personalized to a recipient's context in real time by variables such as:

  • Location

  • Time

  • Local weather and temperature

  • Device in use

  • Mail client in use

  • Mobile device language preference settings

Strategies for 2017

Here are five email marketing strategies that will help tighten the waste around email marketing and streamline campaigns to reach maximum potential. I recommend these be continually used as a reminder list of fundamental practices to keep a campaign healthy.

  1. Use kinetic email design to increase email interactivity. Motion within an email creates more engagement from subscribers. Look for ways to incorporate more website-like features now that Gmail and others accept broader coding standards. Get away from static email campaigns.

  2. Find more ways to personalize your email campaigns. Seventy-three percent of top marketers say a customer journey strategy has positively impacted overall customer engagement (Salesforce 2016 "State of Marketing" research report).

    Ways to personalize email content
      • Use known data in a CRM system to add personal content before the send - such as name, birthday, purchase history, or preferences.
      • Leverage contextual email technology to personalize emails in real time - such as location, time, weather, device, or mail client.

  1. Design cleaner emails. Create emails that stand out in the inbox with cleaner designs, simplified messaging, and professional images. Also, consider developing emails that are very easy to scan. Busy inboxes need scannable content with a clear call to action. Emails with cluttered interfaces will continue to decline in performance as email as a whole begins to simplify with better personalization.

  2. Get to the point. Alongside cleaner email designs, consider adding call-to-action buttons higher in the email. Get interaction quickly, not after numerous seconds of reading.

  3. Campaign automation. Lower overhead with triggered email campaigns. Find ways to automate parts of your email communications for cheaper costs and time savings.

For some, these strategies may seem basic, but doing fundamental practice review with these suggestions is a great idea for continual email optimization. For many, these items are still hard to accomplish due to limitations or barriers. Wherever the program is, these strategies are designed to maximize email effectiveness and reduce cost for any campaign.

Over the last 12 months, email marketing predictions envision that we will see more data being used than ever before, interactive content will be front and center in email development, templates will become minimalist, and mobile responsive design will strengthen as an industry standard following the proliferation of mobile devices.


Rory is a Senior Content Marketing Analyst for Liveclicker. A long-time email geek, web analytics admirer, blogger, and email industry advocate. It's not difficult to get Rory talking about email - exhaustively. His broad digital experience helps apply a holistic approach to interactive marketing and achieving online success. Follow @RoryCarlyle on Twitter.