Email Marketing: The Future of the Inbox

08 May Email Marketing: The Future of the Inbox

I started my afternoon off with a presentation from Allen Nance, CEO of email marketing software company WhatCounts about email marketing and the future of the inbox. There was no after lunch drag here – Allen was lively and funny and it was a great session! Here are the highlights.

Everybody is obsessed with digital marketing and marketing technology is like Hansel, it’s so hot right now, and there are few reasons why. One reason is that there is a lot of money chasing it.  A lot of VC money is entering the space and is creating opportunities. Right now there are more than 3,000 marketing technology software products.

Allen challenged the audience to take an honest look at email. Email is currently used by four billion people globally and that number will only continue to grow. It’s twice as big as all other social channels cumulatively, and is intertwined in everything we do. To that end, email is also always #1 on the digital marketing ROI list.

For these reasons Allen feels that email is ripe for innovation and had a few predictions.

Prediction #1—Somebody is going to ‘Tinder’ the email experience. Somebody will launch a mobile-only email product that you will flip through like a magazine. This mobile-only email client will fundamentally change the way we interact with email which will have a profound impact on email marketers.

Prediction #2 – Payments phenomena. Open up your Gmail and start to compose a message. Now look down. See that dollar sign? Soon email addresses will become fully integrated into Google Wallet, Windows and payment gateways (Square) to create a global payments phenomena. That dollar sign in your Gmail – it allows you to send and request money. What this means is that soon the goal of email will no longer be to drive traffic to a website but rather to get people to transact from inside of the email. Your email address will be tied to your credit card.

Prediction #3 – IP based credit score. The idea of a “spam folder” goes away and the introduction of IPv6 leads to a “credit score” of engagement that drives all inbox delivery.  What this means is that credible senders have good credit scores that allows their email through while spam email is assigned a low credit score. However, instead of the email getting bulk deposited into a spam folder it’s just flat out blocked. Imagine a world with no more emails from Nigerian princes asking for money!

Prediction #4 – Smart inboxes. The “inbox” gets smart. No more “newest at the top,” instead it is replaced with an algorithm that learns who you interact with most often and how.

Prediction #5 – Codified user experience. Email becomes 4D. Driven by wide adoption of HTML5, embedded Java, video and other programming languages, email comes to life. What this means is that everything you can do inside of a browser will be capable inside of an email.

Allen wrapped up by saying that in the next five years he strongly believes email marketing will continue to be the number one digital channel, (it’s) more mobile, personal, smarter, and you can transact across it…

No longer will email marketing be about increasing open rates or click rates. In the next 36 months email will move from a traffic channel to a transaction channel.

Consider my mind blown!

Jennifer Edgerly
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