The evolution of email and CRM in 2014

The evolution of email and CRM in 2014
A professional with 15 years’ experience in email, online media, advertising, and marketing, Dela Quist serves as CEO of Alchemy Worx, the world’s largest email marketing agency. The company's diverse client portfolio includes such high profile global brands as Vodafone, Hilton Hotels, AOL, Intercontinental Hotels Group, and Virgin Holidays. Dela is an active member of the UK Direct Marketing Association’s Email Marketing Council and regularly speaks on the creative, legal, commercial, and technical issues that affect email marketers.

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There were many big changes in 2014 in the world of marketing technology, however the change that really stands out for me was the bold and high profile acquisitions of specialist email businesses made by some of the biggest players in CRM.

Oracle bought Responsys, while IBM snapped up Silverpop. Meanwhile, Campaign Monitor raised a hefty $250,000. This is evidence, were it needed, that 2014 was another big year for email.

The big CRM providers are not only realising the need for email to be integrated into their initial marketing propositions, they are seeing it as so urgent that they are buying established and leading email marketing tools, rather than developing their own to make seamless online marketing a reality.

These CRM businesses have realised that targeted marketing simply does not work without email. No other medium is as flexible, and no other is so universal. After all, not having an email address these days is the online equivalent of being homeless. Without an email address you cannot shop, bank or communicate online.

Moreover, without an email you cannot use Android, iOS or Microsoft mobile devices. An email address is increasingly becoming the one thing you cannot live without, and all this at a time when the growth in Facebook users is beginning to plateau.

Evolution of email

The way that we interact with email has changed dramatically over the last decade. While in 2004 most people would log onto their personal emails once or twice while seated at their desktop, these days people have the ability to check their emails on the go.

People check their emails when they wake up, when they go to bed, when waiting for the bus and during lengthy business meetings. As already mentioned, you cannot use a smartphone these days without an email, so unlike Facebook or Twitter, everyone with a smartphone is automatically involved.

There is no doubt that email has evolved as a result of the rapid rise of mobile use. Emails are now seen much more quickly. Unlike in the past where an email could sit in an inbox waiting to be read all day, today’s rapid on-the-go email opens mean most emails are seen within the hour. Furthermore, more frequent checking of email means more time for consumers to absorb brand impressions and key messages.

Savvy marketers have wasted no time this year in making the most of this new reality. Just take for example this year’s Black Friday sales. As was reported by Forbes, email marketing was the primary channel driving just over one in four online sales, ahead of free and paid-for search.

Any brand would be mad to ignore the importance of email marketing after seeing numbers like this. Consumers are increasingly absorbing email marketing at a glance on their mobiles and what is more, it is proven time and again to be successful.

Misplaced emphasis

Ultimately though, even with these huge changes in the way we interact with email, marketers are learning that when it comes to email, the message is more important than the inbox. Too much emphasis is often placed on how, the way we interact with email will continue to change into the future, as well as what the inbox of tomorrow might look like.

What we do know for certain is that the messages that emails carry are, and always will be, their most important aspect. Email gives an invaluable opportunity for brands to spread their key messages and make important brand impressions, as they did during Black Friday this year.

So in sum: email is increasingly something no one can live without and everyone has, people are browsing their emails more often on-the-go as smartphones become near-universal, and email marketing was the main driving force behind the biggest day in eCommerce history.No wonder then that IBM and Oracle are getting email marketers on board so quickly. 

Consequently, I can’t remember any time in the last decade where email has been so dominant in the news and in business, and it all points to an exciting 2015 ahead.

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