As we near the end of 2017, retail is facing significant profitability issues, to the point that the situation's been called an "apocalypse." Marketers are facing pressure like never before to capture and retain customer attention.

By and large, their answer has been to increase the level of sophistication in their approach, with heavy doses of cross-channel engagement and high reliance on analytic services. Personalization, driven by fancy technologies like augmented reality/virtual reality (AR/VR), natural-language processing, and machine-learning, are also stepping in to help marketers cope.

Despite those flashy novel approaches, however, it's important not to take your eye off the proven tactics that are still driving results.

Email marketing, for one, remains a core channel for reaching customers. It is unique in that it is the one method that consistently generates the highest return on investment and customer acquisition. A 2015 report found that email has an average return-on-investment of $38 for each $1 spent.

Moreover, several important tactical components of direct email contact lend themselves perfectly to conversion. Best of all, email is a channel where best-practices about what customers will accept are well-positioned to evolve.

Let's look at three of the most promising opportunities to build brand, convert, and make sales with email.

1. 'Reveal' Marketing

Reveal marketing is a way for brands to harness the curiosity of consumers by placing an offer or incentive behind a barrier, requiring consumers to take some action to see the offer.

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image of Paul Mandeville

Paul Mandeville is chief product officer of QuickPivot, a cloud-based real-time cross-channel marketing platform powering lifecycle marketing programs.

LinkedIn: Paul Mandeville

Twitter: @paulmandeville