It’s January, which means it’s time to dust off the tarot cards and shine up the crystal ball to predict what’s to come this year. We previously covered what changes we had seen in email marketing in 2023, but now we’re going to look ahead at what’s coming.
In this case, we can do you one better than a crystal ball—we have a plethora of in-house Iterable experts who can help forecast trends we expect to see in the world of marketing. Speaking of experts—not to toot my own horn—I’m Tom Corbett, Senior Email Deliverability Consultant at Iterable. I put together some thoughts on email marketing predictions so, without further ado, let’s see what 2024 has in store.
1. Yahoo and Gmail Changes
Last year, Iterable’s Head of Deliverability, Seth Charles, gave us a preview of what to expect with the major changes Yahoo and Gmail announced—but they’re going into effect early 2024.
As Seth put it, “Starting in April of 2024, both email platforms will begin to block and aggressively filter incoming email traffic that doesn’t meet new message authentication and procedural requirements. Additionally, they also included some infrastructure and performance thresholds associated with commercial email best practices.”
Why is it happening? Google and Yahoo want to provide a safer, improved experience for their users. Part of the change is to have a minimum of p=none for your DMARC policy. I think it very likely that by the end of the year they will require a stricter requirement of p=reject. P=none, according to Email on Acid, “tells mailbox providers to take no specific action on emails that fail authentication. They will most likely be delivered unless it is very obviously spam. A p=none DMARC policy leaves the decision up to mailbox providers.” P=reject, however, “is the strongest DMARC policy value. It ensures all malicious email is stopped dead in its tracks. If a message fails DMARC when set to “reject” will not be delivered at all.”
I also wouldn’t be surprised to see other mailbox providers follow suit.
2. Postmaster Best Practices are Top of Mind
This feels like a subcategory of Yahoo/Gmail changes, but with these changes and the emphasis on strict enforcement, we’ll see senders paying closer attention to the Best Practices published on the Postmaster site.
Some of these Best Practices include:
- The use of a DKIM (DomainKeys Identified Mail) signature (not a suggestion, it’s mandatory)
- Sending emails only to those who have opted in (or double-opt-in)
- It has to be clear who is sending the emails
- The recipient has to be able to unsubscribe—both quickly and easily
While these aren’t new concepts to email marketers, in combination with the changes from Google, Yahoo, and potentially other email providers, email marketers are going to start focusing on these requirements first, versus dealing with it later.
3. A Need for Centralized Data
With even more importance on monitoring metrics from Google Postmaster tools, email senders will want to/expect to see more granularity in their email marketing dashboards. For example, Gmail & Yahoo have stated to keep complaint rates below 0.3%. Currently, the only way to see this metric is within Google’s postmaster tools account. Senders will prioritize integrating with other tools over collecting siloed information. (Luckily, we have a stacked roster of solutions and technology partners that integrate with the Iterable platform.)
Centralized data will aid in the future of AI as well. Because data fuels AI, having centralized customer data will allow for easier, more seamless email automation—while maintaining personalization.
4. Embracing the Creative Renaissance
Back in 2013 we saw creative teams become more visual with email. Gone are the days of designing around images by default, instead, we’ve seen the rise of mobile optimization. I believe we are now at a critical changing point with AMP/markup schemas allowing for senders to create hyper-personalized emails where a brand can directly communicate with an individual customer.
I don’t think this change will happen instantly but opportunities that can drive this change are:
- Accessibility: How are emails reaching diverse audiences with different needs? According to the World Health Organization, “An estimated 1.3 billion people – or 16% of the global population – experience a significant disability today”
- Interactivity: How can audiences engage with the emails? (With AMP in Gmail, for example, users can edit Google Docs right in their inbox.)
- Social media (TikTok): What opportunities does social create that can lead to more user-generated content in larger campaigns?
- Minimal/visual storytelling: We’ve all heard “show, don’t tell.” How can dynamic images speak to individual customers?
5. AI Will Play a Central Role
I’m not talking about subject line creation or copy writing—that’s a given—but I’m more so talking about email service providers (ESPs) and/or tech platforms developing AI-powered functionality. These functionalities (some of which already exist) will help marketers spend less time relying on engineers and more time thinking about big-picture strategies.
As a completely, totally unbiased example…let’s look at one of the tools in Iterable’s AI Suite: Brand Affinity. “Brand Affinity uses Iterable AI to label your users based on their level of engagement with your brand. You can use these labels in segmentation, campaigns, journeys, data feeds, and Catalog collections to send personalized, relevant messages to your customers.” These labels can then help determine what journeys users are placed into. Should they be placed in a re-engagement journey? Should they stop receiving messages?
The Future of Email Marketing
As cliché as it is, the only constant is change. Email marketing has come a long way and it’s only going to continue to evolve as we head into the thick of 2024. There are two major themes that capture the six predictions mentioned above: automation and customer experience. In fact, the two go hand-in-hand.
With the Yahoo and Gmail changes, Postmaster Best Practices, a creative renaissance, and sustainability there’s a focus on what’s best for the end user. How can we be sure to deliver communications that resonate? Then centralized data, AI, and personalization (as part of the creative renaissance) speak to automation. Without data there is no AI. Without AI, personalization becomes tedious and near-impossible.
With automation reliant on customer data, end users are served with a better overall experience, strengthening your brand reputation and your relationship with individual customers.
Want more info on the Google and Yahoo requirements? Register for our webinar on February 13, hosted by Iterable’s Senior Director of Delivery Operations, Seth Charles.
If you’re an Iterable customer looking to learn more about email marketing, connect with our Deliverability Team. And, if you’re curious about how to make the switch to Iterable, schedule a demo today.