2018 Email Marketing Trends: Machine Learning, Personalization and Killer Content


Email will continue to be a critical channel for content marketers this year. Recent insights from the Content Marketing Institute’s latest trends report found email newsletters are the third most-used content marketing tactic. And 40% agreed that email newsletters will be the second most critical tactic to their content marketing programs’ success in 2018. At the same time, email remains the number one channel content marketers use to distribute content.

While we expect many marketing teams will employ the same successful tactics used previously, 2018 should be a year of transformation—rather than relying on the same email marketing tactics, organizations will innovate beyond “batch and blast” email campaigns and instead envision how email can be a key ROI driver to the business.

Here are the top three email trends we’ve identified in 2018 with strategies for marketing teams that are ready to innovate beyond your typical email marketing approach.

1. Email personalization will evolve to encompass individualization

Personalization for email marketers tends to rely on some old fashioned tactics, such as adding a contact’s name to a subject line or addressing a contact by name within the email itself. Marketers having been dubbing these types of practices as “personalization” for over a decade. But the most sophisticated marketing tools today take personalization to the individual level. Forrester has coined this approach individualization.

The majority of consumers today expect brands to deliver individually relevant content, and that can mean all the difference when it comes to how consumers perceive and engage with your brand. Marketers already recognize the value and ROI of email personalization. In 2018, organizations will take more strategic steps to deliver content at the individual level.

2. Machine learning will be a core asset for email marketing operations

Email marketers are well-aware of the resources it takes in order to deliver email personalization at scale. Even with just email segmentation—which is targeting content to large groups of people based on characteristics like geography, age, industry, gender and education level—creating and maintaining multiple segments coupled with manually selecting content for each segment can really swamp an email team.

As more teams invest in enterprise email personalization tools, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning will become more essential to the email marketing process. This is important because many personalization solutions claim to operate through machine learning, but they still rely on human resources to categorize content. True AI-based machine learning allows for a true understanding of an article’s substance, not just the keywords the author associated with it.

There will also be a shift in team structures as machine learning is adopted on a broader basis. Teams that are focused on program management and email operations will reduce in size, because the machine will take over much of that work. Those resources can be reallocated upstream into strategic areas, or downstream into analytics and optimization.

3. Personalized content will go beyond recommendations

Content recommendations are one of the most common ways for “personalized” content to be served up to consumers today. Typical content recommendations are great for maximizing vanity outcomes like clicks, but the content usually isn’t personalized to the reader’s actual interests, behaviors and intent. This leads to “click bait” type recommendations and disengaged users.

In 2018, personalization will have to go beyond content recommendations and instead incorporate truly individualized content via email newsletters, welcome emails and transactional messages. This will ensure readers have a better experience and brands will see greater engagement with those emails.

With the right tools in place, your team can deliver results with individualized content experiences. By harnessing the power of machine learning, OneSpot InBox tracks each subscriber’s behavioral data from a brand’s owned and operated site and predicts what content each individual would like to receive next.

Contact us to see how OneSpot InBox can help you deliver an individualized content experience for each email subscriber.


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