Consumers Know It’s Not 1995. Do ESPs?

By Sherene Hilal

“The Hot New Channel for Reaching People: Email”

It might sound like a headline from 1995, but it’s straight from the Wall Street Journal… 2019 — and it’s a sign of the times.

Why is Email the “Secret” Weapon of Digital Marketing?

Email has been the workhorse of digital marketing efforts for years now. In fact, email has the highest return on investment per marketing dollar spent, and yet when I talk to brands there is a belief that you can’t get more out of email.

Maybe it’s because it’s so cheap to keep sending more, or maybe it’s because email performance has been stagnant, but despite its high returns, email has become the dirty laundry of the digital marketing world.

Why? Quite simply, in the 30 years since email went mainstream, a lot has changed — except when it comes to email. We’ve gone from MySpace to Facebook to #deletefacebook. Google and Amazon took over the world, and smartphones were born. But email has stayed largely the same.

Even today, when we think of email, we think of getting addressed by the wrong name, getting blasted with spam and having to scroll through irrelevant offers just to get the latest promo code we actually want.

(Re)Introducing Email Marketing

In 2019, email’s position as the dirty laundry is changing. As people-based marketing trends emerge and new data privacy laws like GDPR set higher requirements for collecting and using data, email — with its persistent identity and explicit opt in and opt out requirements — has become a more important identifier than ever. Not only that, but changes at Facebook and Google to remove third party data and adjust ad algorithms are evaporating the marketing dollars that have recently been focused on these shiny toys.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, email is “one of the few open standards we have left. No one controls it, and no company can get between a sender and its recipient.”

Will 1995’s Email Cut it in 2019?

If email hasn’t changed much since the mid 1990s and that very same channel is making a big splash in 2019, are we prepared?

Apparel retailers may be re-visiting the 90s as trends like scrunchies and logo-clad attire make a comeback, but the truth is that 90s technology can’t keep up in quite the same way.

In fact, using decades-old technology to power modern email marketing efforts, like personalization, has forced marketers into a corner. What we see now is an Email Death Spiral: A situation in which marketers must undertake an exhaustive stream of manual activities to send emails only to see diminishing results. And in a rush to increase performance, the only solution available is to send more emails, which creates more work and doesn’t truly solve the performance problem.

We arrived here because marketing in 1995 can’t keep up with marketing in 2019. The email solutions available to marketers can’t keep up with modern marketing trends like personalization because they weren’t built to solve these modern problems. They were built to solve the problems of the 1990s, mainly reaching high send volumes.

In 2019, retail marketers don’t need help sending high volumes of email. Rather, they need a solution that can help connect the dots on customer acquisition across channels, drive more repeat purchases, combat the Amazon effect and manage the relationship between online and offline. Essentially, they need a solution that will bridge the gap between the brain of digital marketing and the steadfast email channel.

It’s Time for a New Era of Email Marketing

As the Wall Street Journal contends, we’ve reached a new era of digital marketing in which email is making a major resurgence — it never went anywhere, but there is a renewed realization on the potential of the channel and investments to be made. In order for this new era to deliver the best results possible, marketers need a way to marry the core tenets of the email channel with modern marketing goals.

Fortunately, we’ve already seen some progress in this regard and there’s more innovation to come. So what should this modern email solution look like? It should:

Making the Leap to 2019 — Finally

The time has finally come for email marketing to leave the 90s behind once and for all as this type of innovation moves from vision to reality.

Today, we’re reimagining email to make it possible for retail marketers to achieve performance and personalization at scale with a single solution built to solve modern marketing challenges in the ways described here.

What else do you need to know to prepare for email’s resurgence? And what does it look like for your email marketing program to make the leap into 2019? Get the full story here.

Sherene Hilal

Sherene Hilal

Sherene Hilal is the Chief Product Officer at Bluecore. In this role, Sherene leads the commercialization of products and business operations, with a focus on product vision, market differentiation, and enterprise excellence. Previously, Sherene was the VP of Product Marketing at Curalate, a content intelligence platform that makes images shoppable. Prior to Curalate, she served as the Senior Director of Product Marketing & Pricing for BlueKai (and later Oracle, following the company’s acquisition), where she defined and developed the “Data as a Service” category. Sherene holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Math and Systems from Columbia University and a B.S. in Applied Math from Cornell University.