"We live in a D-world," stated Thomas Le Thierry d'Ennequin from Vizeum at this year's Golden Hammer conference. While listening to the talks, I counted five D's: disruption, deconstruction, de-planning, de-materialization, and de-creativity.
We are now living in a marketing world characterized by 5 D's. So let's explore those D forces and how they make up new email and marketing trends.
1. Disruption: Unlearn everything you know
These days, it seems that wherever you look, an industry is being disrupted. Established businesses are always looking over their shoulders to make sure some app isn't trying to revolutionize their industries and way of life.
However, not only traditional businesses should be wary—email marketers should, too.
Joanna Bakas, the managing partner of LHBS Consulting in Germany, encourages marketers to "unlearn everything we have learned." Email marketers can't be complacent when people's daily lives online and offline continue to evolve. You won't attract clients' attention by sticking to old methods.
Email marketing (and every other kind of marketing, too) is still adapting to the mobile surge that began a few years ago.
One of the hot email marketing trends at the moment is extreme email personalization. Email marketing is moving away from bulk emails, and so we have to unlearn old strategies of "communicating to the masses" and instead learn the art of having intimate conversations with individuals.
2. De-construction: Find a purpose for your channels
These days, it's not about selling; it's about solving problems.
What is the value that you can deliver and who is interested in it? Bakas suggests we have to "unlearn channel planning."
You need to be where your clients are and use the channels that best serve them. That may mean mixing email with other digital channels or giving up on some channels altogether if they do not serve your problem-solving purposes. It also means combining online communication with offline engagement in new and unexpected ways.
There's no point in creating separate email marketing plans; all plans for all channels should be integrated. Furthermore, email marketers must learn to think beyond sales pitches and learn to educate and mentor clients. Give clients what they want and/or need, and you will make them want what you can offer.
Moreover, Simon Shaw, chief creative officer at Hill+Knowlton Strategies in the UK, states that "there's no B2B and B2C; it's B2H now."
The time and channel restrictions for B2B communication are being deconstructed because people are using the same devices and surfing the same channels in their free time as they do during business hours. That leads to a new email-marketing trend: communicating with the community formerly known as B2B on a 24/7 basis.
3. De-planning: Plan for not being able to plan the future
The good news is that there's no longer any point in preparing those five-year plans. The bad news: this is because we don't know what technological developments and competition to plan for.
Among the many conference speakers who reiterated this point was the chief technology officer at Geometry Global EMEA in Germany, Frank Wolfram, who pointed out that "there is no such thing as a five-year plan. There might be a five-year vision."
Think about it. Five years ago, we were living in a different world: 4G was only just being deployed, the first iPad had only just arrived, and Facebook had a mere 400 million users. How can anyone really know what the digital landscape will look like in another five years?
However, you shouldn't throw your hands in the air and just go with the flow. You can still have a vision for the value you want to create and the ways in which your business will deal with the changes to come.
For email marketers, the realistic planning period is short. At Mailigen, our email marketing strategy extends no further than three months. Even then we know that things can change and we'll have to adapt.
4. De-materialization: Embrace mobile
As Simon Shaw put it, "Everything is in our pockets."
Increasingly our mobile devices are taking over functions once solely the domain of wallets, day planners, and even personal computers. If businesses want to grab their clients' attention, they have to adhere to the rule of the game: mobile responsiveness.
Email is at the root of de-materialization. Nevertheless, email marketing still has a way to go before it fully embraces the mobile trends now accelerating it. Email marketing trends are dictated by mobile trends and their peculiar behavioral consequences (read: lack of time and patience).
Emails must be personal, attention-grabbing, short, pleasing to the eye, and readable on any screen. Many such features have become integral parts of email marketing services to help ensure that emails live up to these standards. One example is email inbox preview—a time-saving feature that allows users to preview email templates in over a hundred different mobile, Web, and desktop inbox versions.
De-materialization is as much a social development as it is technological. More and more people are spending money on intangibles, on experiences. Owning stuff is no longer the only measure.
Creating and sharing content—and getting feedback in the form of likes, shares, and comments—have become an integral part of people's lives. Email marketing can take advantage of this thirst for engagement.
5. De-creativity: Include the geeks
"Geeks are the next creatives," says Alemsah Ozturk, chief happiness officer and founder of 41? 29! in Turkey.
Now, we all are at the mercy of the geeks, the masters of code. Increasingly, the contributions of geeks make you, me, and all our clients say, "Wow!"
So, include geeks in your search for new ways of presenting your emails and engaging your clients. Geeks can turn new email marketing trends into your standard business practice.
I can only agree with Rafa Fortis, who says, "Boring life—boring portfolio." To generate inspired content, designs, or creative solutions both old and new, creatives need to be constantly exposed to the unconventional and the exciting.
New experiences will shift perspectives and inspire creatives' workdays and portfolios.
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Technological acceleration is changing the landscape in which email marketing operates. Given the growing competition for people's attention, marketers must keep up with the D forces that are transforming the ways in which we speak to audiences and manage business resources—human, technological, and monetary.