Email’s role in the marketing mix has never been so prominent. According to our global data-driven survey, email remains the primary tool for customer communications amongst senior marketers in the UK. However, we are now at a point of transition. In 2014, we will see a shift to marketers placing a greater level of appreciation on the value of the data they collect and store about their customers.

That shift is crucial if the effectiveness of email marketing is to be maintained and continue to grow. 2013 saw a significant increase in the number of event based email messages, but in 2014, we will see marketers move even closer to adopting a data-driven approach to their campaigns, to ensure that trend continues as more and more data becomes available. But it won’t be until 2015 that we see that truly realised. Marketers simply do not yet have the capabilities to fully realise the full potential of their data, both from a solutions and experience point of view.

Whilst investment in email and other digital channels continues to increase, with 55% of marketers reaching out to their customers across seven or more channels, almost half are failing to collect high volumes of in-depth customer satisfaction and engagement data (49%) to use in their tailored marketing campaigns. Meanwhile, merely a quarter collect point-of-sale data (25%) and even fewer psychographic data (19%). If marketers fail to make use of this increasing volume of data, they will not be able to achieve a single customer view and as a result run the risk of ending up with a fragmented campaign output, which is largely ineffective at increasing levels of customer engagement.

Marketers simply do not yet have the capabilities to fully realise the full potential of their data, both from a solutions and experience point of view.

Trigger emails not only demonstrate a deep level of understanding of the recipient, they also serve a great purpose. They either address a particular requirement or enrich a meaningful experience, in the moment. But without the right data, campaigns can fall flat. Marketers therefore need to look to create a mechanism, which can capture prospective customer details even when they are not in the position to buy. Then, after those leads have been nurtured through a carefully thought-out program, they will have a pool of invested consumers to interact with and the data to build a far stronger relationship with them, which will ultimately improve their acquisition and ROI. But that process takes time. You also need to have the systems in place to manage that process smoothly so all your leads are accurately evaluated and incorporated into your universal database.  If marketers don’t improve the relevancy of their content they will alienate their potential customer pool and their potential audience.

In comparison to the rest of the Europe, the UK is leading the way when it comes to investment in marketing technology, with marketers spending 13.7% of their marketing budgets in the UK, compared to 11.7% across Europe. But whilst this technology helps to streamline the creative process and enhance the content customers receive, email as a medium needs to adapt if it is to continue to remain relevant.

Marketers therefore need to be ready to embrace change. The trend of selling data will die out and be replaced with an increased focus on data refinement; segmentation and deployment across all aspects of the marketing process, and in many respects the entire organisation. The integration of email within business workflows is already in progress as a result of marketing resource management platforms becoming far more synonymous with day-to-day operations. That will replace companies use of typical file management in the not too distant future. However, marketers need to invest in the right people to help them achieve these process changes, and a deeper level of analysis in order for the transition process to remain smooth.

So what other changes are afoot? For starters, inbox convergence tools, which incorporate all communication formats, from SMS to social, will undoubtedly help email to continue to grow, and will likely be aggregated within a single message interface. Device divergence will also make the need responsive design far more critical. As a result we will see the way emails are presented, whether for a TV, watch, household electrical item or wearable technology, become much more concise. In fact depending on the content, in some cases we may even see the adoption of SMS shortened messaging and mobile optimisation techniques.

As the amount of content accelerates, the need for simplicity and clarity will be heightened. Particularly if the email is going to reach the level of resonance required to generate the intended level of value. Consumers will require greater direction to the content you want them to interact with and a clear call to action. However, live email, location aware emails and social media integration, afforded through a greater adoption of HTML 5, will see a greater degree of dynamic content, video and animation in emails. Not only will this massively improve the visual impact of the medium, it will also lead to higher open rates as consumers enjoy a more creative experience.

So to summarise, if 2013 has been a year of increased digital investment, 2014 will see that investment extend to technology to fully capture the fruits of that investment. Further more, changes in marketing operations will help marketers achieve a greater and far deeper understanding of their customers than they have had previously. Emails will evolve to be even more relevant, timely and targeted to specific individual needs at the moment when they are most crucial.

Mark Ash

Mark Ash


Mark Ash is Managing Director Teradata Interactive International.