How emerging email innovation will impact marketers in 2020

During a recent webinar where I co-presented with Senior Editor Jennifer Cannon, I received several questions relating to innovations that will impact email marketers in 2020. I wanted to take this opportunity to answer some of them. 

Q: CCPA has officially gone into effect. Will the privacy climate in the U.S. continue to change?

The California Consumer Privacy Act went into effect on Jan 1. The changes won’t end with California, though. Several other states and even the federal government have or are currently working on future legislation. This means that privacy is about to become much more complex in the United States.

Rather than attempting to get away with the minimum viable option and repeating that process each time new privacy laws are enacted, brands should set the bar to a higher threshold. I’m a fan of Privacy by Design because it focuses on implementing the best practices across the board when it comes to how you handle consumer information. By going with a higher standard, brands won’t have to suffer from repeated distractions to their business each time privacy laws change.

Q. I keep hearing about BIMI. What are the primary benefits of implementing this?

BIMI, which stands for Brand Indicators for Messaging Identification, is a new email specification that allows for brand logos to show up in the inbox of select mailbox providers. The benefits of BIMI are promising. First, in the age of privacy, it gives you another way to identify your brand in the inbox beyond the “from” name and email address. Secondly, it gives brands protection against spoofing. Lastly, it helps your emails reach the inbox in the mailbox providers that support BIMI.

If you decide to implement BIMI, you first need to ensure you have authenticated all of your email sends with SPF, DKIM and DMARC. You also need to be sure your DMARC is at enforcement. Once all of that is covered, then you can publish a BIMI record in your DNS to obtain a Verified Mark Certificate.

Q. AMP seems like an interesting development for email. Why am I not seeing more brands implementing it? 

Accelerated Mobile Pages is an interesting development for email. In fact, it might be the most interesting thing ever to happen to email. AMP allows for the conversion to happen right within emails instead of having to click through to a website to convert. This could potentially change the entire email conversion funnel by putting the conversion right in the body of the email. Why aren’t more brands doing it then?

There are a few kinks to work out as it pertains to AMP. Here are some of the challenges:

  • Email developers have to develop three versions of every email that has AMP capabilities–HTML, text and AMP versions. I don’t know many developers that have extra time on their hands.
  • AMP is only available in a handful of martech vendors making the deployment and tracking of these emails challenging. 
  • A limited set of mailbox providers will render AMP, which are Gmail, Verizon (AOL and Yahoo), Outlook and (@mail). 
  • Some industry pundits have expressed concern about security as well, given that email is not a secure communications medium.

Even with the challenges, AMP is a promising development for email that you should consider testing as part of your innovation plan in 2020.

Q. Do I need to consider voice as part of my 2020 strategy?

While voice may seem like a novelty on the surface, people are increasingly leveraging voice assistants like Siri, Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant to read their emails. What’s more important is considering that people with visual impairments may leverage screen readers as their only means to engage with email. Making your emails accessible should be a priority for you in 2020. It’s the right thing to do to ensure people with disabilities can access your content.

Some tips on optimizing for voice: 

  • Be transparent about your privacy and security policies about voice. Make sure they are enforced.
  • Develop voice-friendly calls-to-action (i.e., the customer cannot “click” with their voice but they can call a phone number)
  • Write clear senders names, subject lines, preview text, text only
  • Always have a text-only version of the email available

Q. I’m concerned that AI will take over my job, so I don’t want to introduce it to my company. Do you think AI will have a negative impact on email jobs?

I do not think AI will replace humans when it comes to email marketing jobs. It could change the nature of the email marketer’s role, though. AI will increasingly make it easier to collapse the campaign development lifecycle in terms of it helping to quickly establish an audience, personalize the content and determine the right time and channel. It can even self-optimize so that the benefits of testing and learning can be implemented more quickly than if a human had to do it.

AI without human intervention and strategic thinking will be useless, though. AI algorithms will need humans to put guard rails in place and ensure a positive impact on customer experience. Marketers that understand data and strategy will still have a place in the future when AI becomes more pervasive. Today, AI is in its nascent stages and its capabilities have been overhyped. It won’t replace your job. It will make aspects of it easier and will put marketers in a more strategic situation vs. operational.

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

April Mullen is currently the Director of Strategic Insights at SparkPost. She has over 13 years working in email for brands, agencies and in martech. Outside of SparkPost, Mullen has been an Adjunct Professor of Digital Marketing at the University of Missouri-St. Louis since 2013. In June of 2016, Mullen co-founded Women of Email, an organization with over 4,000 members on six continents that is aimed at driving positive change for women in the email marketing niche.

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