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These Are the Biggest Disruptors to the Future of Email Marketing

Email marketing has changed significantly over the past several years—driven by migration of email reading to mobile devices, the debut of email on wearables like the Apple Watch, and broad adoption of engagement-based email filtering by inbox providers. Given all of these changes, we were curious what the next several years had in store, so we asked 20 experts: “How will email marketing and the subscriber experience change by the year 2020?”

Collected in our Email Marketing in 2020 report, their predictions cover everything from inbox functionality and email service provider functionality to email design and deliverability. While every prediction is interesting and thought-provoking, a handful of them are particularly disruptive to the status quo:

1. Brands will stop creating email campaigns because machine learning and automation will completely redefine what a “campaign” is.

Marketers have long sought to send relevant emails by sending the right content to the right person at the right time. The good news is that technology will enable that on a scale not previously possible. The bad news is that new scale is far too vast and complex for people to manage.

“As the number of behaviors captured increases, using the fixed message flowchart-type approach to creating automation sequences that is common to all current automation vendors leads to unmanageable automation,” says Tim Watson, Founder of UK-based email marketing consultancy Zettasphere.

The solution? Handing over many more decisions to machines, and moving to “principle-based automation rather than the current prescriptive-b…

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