The Future of Email Marketing in a Creepy Data World

For years, the future of email marketing has been seen as tied to increasing data integration and personalization. But in a consumer data world that appears increasingly creepy to its subject, not to mention increasingly regulated, what does the future of email look like? At Emma’s Marketing United, marketers working for GasBuddy, Taco Bell and more talked about where this channel is headed.

The Future of Email Marketing

Data up until now has been a value transaction, but one that’s only poorly connected directly to value offered. Most marketers ask for data to use or sell or otherwise profit from, but do not leverage that data to improve the customer experience.

If you can’t show why it’s valuable to the customer to give you that data, you are going to look predatory — like you’re just using them for their data, not providing value for the data.

What does value really look like from an email campaign? It’s helpful, or entertaining, or otherwise beneficial to the recipient regardless of whether they’re going to buy from it.

Fuller said that Taco Bell’s email marketing sends the message that they know the food you like, and they honor the food you like in heir marketing. They use that potentially creepy data to deliver value to hungry subscribers.

In another example, the panelists talked about Spotify’s year-end email, which reveals to you data about what you listened to throughout the year. It’s an effort that walks that line between using data that is a bit creepy, but delivering value as an interesting, engaging and personally informative email.

“Some things should just remain between you and your headphones,” joked Baird. But he also says that email showcases “autonomy, choice and giving back in a way that isn’t broadcasting to them, but is entertaining and interesting.”

If you’re collecting a lot of data about your users and using it in marketing, understand that both sides of that reaction are in play: They likely feel a little creeped out about what you know, but will stay on board so long as the value they perceive s higher than the risks or costs they perceive.

And that’s where the future of email marketing really lies. In a world where consumers are confronted by Facebook data dishonesty, marketers are grappling with GDPR, and email doesn’t necessarily have the best reputation, email marketers must use data to improve the customer experience in order to justify to consumers why they collected that data in the first place.

People are still more than willing to trade data for value, but they’re getting wise to the ways they’ve been conned for their data in the past.

Author: Thorin McGee

Thorin McGee is editor-in-chief and content director of Target Marketing and oversees editorial direction and product development for the magazine, website and other channels.

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