Thursday, December 20, 2012
Over the next several weeks, we will be sharing predictions on the future of marketing from 25 industry thought leaders. These predictions have been compiled in our new whitepaper, Inspired Marketing Predictions for 2013. Today, Matt Blumberg of Return Path shares his thoughts.
Consumers Will Fall in Love with Email (Again)
In 2013, consumers will start discovering what industry insiders are already seeing—email is cool again. For the record, it’s always been cool. But it’s been a long time since so many new ideas about email came to light. This burst of new development offers a glimpse into the inbox of the future, and for smart marketers, it’s an opportunity.
First and foremost, the inbox of the future is a command center. It’s where users manage social data, schedules, and even other communication channels. Think of how Rapportive displays contacts’ social media information in a Gmail sidebar; or how Google Voice via Google Talk lets Gmail users make phone calls from their inboxes; or how TripIt uses flight confirmation emails to build and manage travel itineraries. Then there are task managers like MailPilot and ActiveInbox that turn email into a to-do list. All of this happens in the inbox, and as users embrace and spur more innovation like this, email will increasingly centralize an array of online and offline experiences.
The inbox of the future also manages email more actively. It automates sorting and prioritizes messages with solutions like OtherInbox (a Return Path subsidiary), Sanebox, and Gmail’s Priority Inbox. It dictates when messages are received and sent (Boomerang for Gmail), and lets users set reminders (FollowUp.cc) so they can ignore messages until they’re ready to read them.
Soon, experiences that once required leaving the inbox will start taking place directly from messages. Consumers will watch video, they’ll read Tweets, they’ll review offers based on geo-targeted messages. Thanks to widespread industry adoption of security advances like DMARC, people will even shop directly from the inbox of the future— although probably not in 2013.
So as consumers rediscover email’s coolness and manage more of their lives from the inbox, they’ll offer marketers an opportunity to truly engage them. One critical factor will separate brands that take advantage of this offer from the rest: intelligence. Marketers that succeed will know what devices their subscribers read email on, when they read their messages, what they do with them (move them, forward them, ignore them)—and use these insights to build highly customized, highly effective campaigns.
Meanwhile mailbox providers will offer an additional incentive: they’ll use some of these same insights to guide deliverability decisions, further distancing the smartest marketers from the rest.
Matt Blumberg founded Return Path in 1999 because he believed the world needed email to work better. Matt is passionate about enhancing the online relationship between email subscribers and marketers so that both sides of the equation benefit. It is with great pride that he has watched this initial creation grow to a company of more than 325 employees with the market leading brand, innovative products, and the email industry’s most renowned experts. You can learn much more about Matt by reading his email marketing and entrepreneurship blog Only Once—one of the first CEO blogs on the Internet.