Today’s consumer is in control and always on. They see and engage with marketing messages across multiple channels – from social to mobile to email. They control the email messages they want to see and where they want them delivered. But with data breaches occurring on a near daily basis, consumers are at risk of email fraud as never before. For marketers, this means new methods are needed to promote their brand, engage customers, and protect both their customers and brand. Today, data is the key to connecting with customers, defending against threats like spam and phishing, and to staying ahead in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
When it comes to spam and in the inbox, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is we rarely see consumers complain about the amount of spam reaching their inboxes. Mailbox providers have become sophisticated enough with their email filtering to prevent very few false negatives slipping through their spam filters. The bad news is a lot of the good stuff – one in five messages – still gets blocked or filtered. Based on this statistic, one may think that email marketers still don’t recognize the importance of deliverability, or are simply ignoring it. While ignorance is true in some rare cases, many marketers understand the challenge of deliverability and spend a great deal of time and money developing sophisticated, data-driven responses to deliverability issues.
Deliverability has become more personalized, making it more difficult for marketers to determine causes for deliverability issues. Mailbox providers now look at user engagement and not just reputation signals, to determine what is spam and what’s not. They analyze messages that are being read, ignored and replied to for a clear picture of what their users want to be delivered to the inbox. But for data-driven marketers, the lack of transparency of this particular data leaves them near-sighted.
Delivering the right message also requires a sophisticated, data-driven approach. Consumers can engage with a message on their laptop, tablet, smartphone, smartwatch or desktop. They can read their emails in apps, email client software, and their browsers. And it’s possible they can read the same email across all scenarios in the same sitting.
Data-driven marketers use data to inform design decisions and see how emails are formatted across various formats. Data also provides marketers the opportunity to deliver custom messages through marketing automation, personalization and contextual messaging.
Data is also the key to delivering the right message at the right time. The best time to send an email is when the customer is in their inbox. While marketers could leverage their data and segment based on previous opens, this is time-consuming, doesn’t scale, and is nearsighted as it doesn’t look at how they’re interacting with other messages from other brands. But more marketers are using big data to predict and automate not only the perfect time to send an email but also the right frequency and cadence.
Brands are slowly, but surely, taking the necessary steps to protect their brand and customers from email fraud. 29% of the world’s top brands are now publishing a Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting, and Conformance (DMARC) record, the most powerful weapon to date in the fight against phishing and spoofing. While adoption increased 24% in 2015, there’s still a long way to go. Google is now warning Gmail users when authentication is lacking or fails. Other email providers may start doing the same in 2016 to speed up adoption of email authentication.
Again, data will be crucial in making this transition. Data can help recognize weaknesses in email security faster, but can also prevent phishing attacks from ever occurring.
Data is no doubt the central theme for marketing in 2016. It will be the driving force that gets brands delivered to the inbox, the secret weapon to delivering messages that customers want, and when they want them. When marketers can deliver the right message to the right inbox at the right time, email and data can improve loyalty, reduce churn and continue to be the best return on investment.