2023 will break all email records – here’s why
Anyone who follows me will know how unusual a post like this is for me, as I am generally reluctant to make predictions about the future for good reasons: they can come back to bite you. Just think back. How many predictions about 2020, made in 2019, anticipated the changes COVID would make to our lives.
This year is a little different the BIG event is on us already – we can be almost certain market conditions in 2023 are going to be very challenging indeed for most brands. Consumers are being squeezed by high prices for fuel, food, and many other essentials driven largely by the war in Ukraine. They are feeling the pinch and increasingly cautious about spending, particularly on non-essential items. Price sensitivity is also likely to rise. In such conditions price competition driven by falling demand and the need to get rid of unsold inventory will be fierce.
There are always winners and losers in a downturn. Email as a channel is counter-cyclical and tends to do well, but not all email marketers will prosper. As I started thinking what thoughts to share with you today, it occurred to me that we are much more used to marketing to the backdrop of growth than of recession, so not many of today’s crop of digital marketers will have much experience marketing during a recession.
Here is a key lesson Alchemy Worx and I learned during past downturns that could help marketers this time around.
Businesses become increasingly reliant on their email subscribers to pick up the shortfall in sales, which typically results in a significant increase in emails overall importance to the business. 2023 will be no different.
So why does this happen?
As we all know email is very responsive, so the responsibility for delivering urgent changes to price, new tactics, information around inventory, and last-minute revenue drives are best delivered by email. Then there is the issue of budget cuts or cost savings, particularly in paid media. As cuts kick-in the high ROI delivered by email (every $ moved from paid search to email will generate a greater return) will drive a shift of budgets towards the channel.
Driven by this, I predict 3 key trends in email marketing to emerge:
Increased reliance on Automation
Email marketers are going to need to become even more responsive to business needs than usual. Aside from the burden caused by a likely increase in email frequency and cadence, email marketers can expect last minute changes to prices, featured products, and segments, as well as unexpected briefs for new campaigns. Automating as many email templates, journeys, and processes as you can will allow the email department to deliver. Brands that fail to take advantage of automation offered by their platform are likely to suffer.
Loosening of the rules around Inactive Addresses
Anyone who follows me will know my view: brands that stop mailing “inactive” email subscribers, usually defined as not opened for an arbitrary number of days or months (generally 180 days), are leaving money on the table. Harsh economic realities will make that an unaffordable luxury in 2023. There is a limit to the load you can place on even the most active email subscribers, which will necessitate a re-thinking of the rules. Once a decision is taken to start to target subscribers who have not been emailed for a while the worst thing you can do is send out an email to all of them in one go. A great deal of care and deliverability expertise is required to bring them online slowly over a period of time. Winners will be brands that make the decision early in the new year.
Deliverability Challenges for the Unprepared
Optimally, you should be re-engaging your audience regularly throughout the year because spam filters hate the unexpected! If your emailing patterns are very consistent or you have not mailed your inactive file for some time you will definitely need the assistance of an agency, ESP, or deliverability consultant to help you safely prepare for what is likely to come next year.
Anyone who waits until their backs are against the wall to start this process is likely to suffer significant inbox placement challenges exactly when the business needs email to deliver.
I would also recommend you read my recent article on how to re-engage you inactives in time for the holiday season, here on OI, as many of my recommendations and tips are equally of use preparing to deliver a record year in 2023
History (see below) shows us the key to businesses not just weathering a recession but prospering afterwards lies in the preparation.
My advice to all email marketers therefore is to take these as recommendations and act now, before it’s too late. The sooner you start the better.