The Evolving Power of Email

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Adotas talks with Eric Wanta, CMO, Zive about the power of email in 2018 to help brands personalize their marketing efforts. 

Q: Email is always evolving, what do you see being a major change or innovation that will alter how we email in 2018? 

A: In a nutshell, I think it will be Better Ways to Deal with Email Chaos. Email is here to stay and so is the way most people use it. Unfortunately, the average white-collar employee checks email about once every six minutes and attention switching due to email interruptions is a productivity killer. A study by the Danwood Group found that it takes an average of 64 seconds to recover from an email interruption, regardless of its importance, and return to the same productivity level. Plus, when you add interruptions from real-time communications platforms like Slack and others, people often feel overwhelmed and have been shown to be stressed out by the sheer number of notifications and incoming messages.

The biggest change in email will come from recognizing the fact that people are bad at managing their emails and trying to get them to change behavior won’t solve the problem. For example, people aspire to achieve “inbox zero” but few have the discipline or time to do what’s required to get there, yet alone stay there.

The key is helping people simplify and focus without making them drastically change behavior. Innovative providers will make the whole experience more intuitive and less demanding while seamlessly dealing with increasing volume and complexity. Integrating better search and more advance AI functionality are steps in the right direction. As are smarter and more easily customizable notifications that allow you to filter out noise to focus on what’s important, overlaying more order on what can seem like a never-ending sea of chaos.

Q: What do you see going away when it comes to email? 

A: The Clickthrough. Okay, maybe it won’t disappear entirely and we’re not there yet. But as more and more functionality gets pushed into emails and people’s inboxes, you won’t need to clickthrough to a separate page to perform many tasks or consume additional content. From embedded videos to surveys and beyond, functionality that once required people to clickthrough to landing pages can be interacted within a person’s inbox. This may have unintended consequences for marketers who must balance the value of getting people to more easily engage against removing the incentive for customers to visit their websites.

Q: What role will video play with email? It’s been rumored for some time about this trend.

A: Video in email is a trend whose time has finally come. Apple’s renewed commitment to video support underscores this and means this huge segment of users will continue to have videos play directly from email.  However, just because you can include video in emails doesn’t mean you always should. This goes double for the ability to make an embedded video play automatically.

While video content has proven to be engaging and auto-playing it even more so, the realities of how people check email can raise some potential issues. That fact that many people frequently check emails on their phones presents significant challenges. People typically spend just seconds reading/scanning an email which means any video needs to prove watch-worthy in the first 3-5 seconds or its going to be deleted. And auto-playing a video when a person is checking their email in a meeting or another public place can cause problems.  Some people may have their sound turned off so you’re carefully-crafted video production becomes a silent movie.

Video should be complementary to the email’s purpose and be necessary. Video for the sake of video is not good. It needs to add something that couldn’t be communicated through normal static images.

Q: What does Kiwi for Gmail have planned in 2018? 

A: Kiwi for Gmail expects continued growth in 2018 as more and more companies and consumers recognize the benefits of moving toward “native cloud applications” that do a better job of bringing web-based applications like Gmail and all of G Suite to the desktop. Kiwi integrates Gmail into the desktop experience in ways that simply aren’t possible in the browser. As more companies look to move their email hosting to cloud-based providers they will be able to take advantage of our new enterprise application Kiwi for G Suite.


Q: What are your top tips for email marketers in 2018? 

A: #1: Interactive Emails.

If you haven’t already, start looking for ways to start experimenting with interactive emails. There is no single “right” approach, but you should make sure whatever interactivity you add is appropriate for your brand and your customers. Also, not every email needs to have interactivity embedded in it. Keep it purpose-driven and think of each as a self-contained micro site that allows your customers to do something they find interesting or valuable. If done right, its more convenient for the customer and will greatly improve engagement.

#2: Dynamic Content Personalization

The promise of delivering truly personal emails (or any other kind of communication for that matter) has always bumped up against the reality of an organization’s ability to deliver. It not only takes a significant amount of data to know each individual customer and what they would find most relevant, but also a tremendous amount of effort to define all the logic and content required to make the resulting emails seem personal.

#3: Better AI

That should allow more marketers to take steps towards realizing the potential of personalization beyond the token greeting or account information. Personalization should demonstrate you know your customers. However, doing this effectively requires you to really understand what information they need and in ways it can add value. It also requires you to be able to access that data and incorporate it into your messaging which is no easy task.

About Eric Wanta

Eric Wanta oversees all marketing strategy and programs for Zive, maker of Kiwi for Gmail. His unique perspective on marketing, branding and advertising comes from spending many years working with a wide variety of companies on both the agency and client sides. Eric is an experienced marketing executive with deep strategic and tactical experience and has led the leading marketing function at companies such as Lycos, Exari, Aquent and several other technology startups. He has a degree in Economics from Harvard and a MBA from Yale.

 

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