13 Experts on MarTech transformation of the email and marketing automation industry

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The digital marketing industry seems to be in a constant state of flux and that won’t be slowing down anytime soon. With technology, marketing strategies and tactics constantly evolving.

To gain insight into the shifts and up-and-coming technologies we asked our panel of email marketing experts and thought leaders to answer this question:

What do you see would be changing in the role of agencies, 3rd party technologies, and vendors in relation to each other? And what influence does this have on them?

Find out below what these global experts had to say about the transformation of MarTech.

The revenge of the Agency; fluently talking Automation Platforms

With the rise of DIY tools for email design, content, campaign management and marketing automation I believe that the role of agencies is continuously narrowing.

Instead of HTML coding, I see many agencies looking for flexible email builders so they can truly focus on coming up with creative ideas and designs for clients. Not waste time with tweaking the email code.

Agencies need to focus their efforts on bringing the “creative spice” into the picture and work with client’s desired email marketing platform.

On top of that email marketing agencies also need to become fluent with those email platforms since personalization and automation require much deeper understanding than simple email blasts.

Roland Pokornyik is CEO and Co-founder of EDMdesigner.

Triggered emails claim the email marketing fame (and ROI)

The integration of data from different sources will be the most important in 2017 and the biggest priority for both ESPs and marketers. With the relatively lowering costs of big data technology it seems that finally we will be able to see comprehensive ecosystems with the work-flow of data between all systems and email marketing.

On the other hand, we are facing the changing jurisdictions in the EU region on the protection of privacy (RODO) and the fall of the Safe Harbour to which suppliers will have to adapt their solutions. We have to assume that more and more consumers will be aware of the privacy protection and they cannot be too frightened by too personalized emails ;)

According to DMA stats from 2016, marketers sent out only 5% triggered emails and yet this 5% generated over 50% of revenue. Of course, no one has studied whether these stats would look so good if they were backed up by a regular newsletter communication.
There is no doubt that within the coming year marketers will significantly increase the share of triggered emails to increase their ROI. This in combination with machine learning and big data can give us great personalisation in email, which finally will be sent to the right person at the right time with the right frequency.

Pawel Sala Co-founder and Managing Director of FreshMail. Public Speaker and Expert of Email Marketing.

Content Automation and must-have innovations come from outside

1. There will be more 3rd party platforms and agencies – these are the companies that innovate technology in the space and offer a real strategic service to marketers.

2. 3rd parties platforms will be a must-have part of all email marketer’s stack and therefore budget. Just having an ESP is will not be enough to achieve improved results in 2017.

3. Larger marketing technology companies will buy 3rd parties platforms. This will allow them to innovate in the space more quickly.

Marketers need to focus on how to automate content that is engaging and personalized. Automating email content is a major challenge, and is becoming the biggest email marketing frustration and problem – it shouldn’t take more than 3 days to create, test and send an email. When you spend all your time doing business as usual email – there is no time for improvement or strategy.

Content automation can be done now, you automate the content in email that is personalized to a recipient’s preference and behavior. When automated, it can be used in every email without have to build it each time, freeing up valuable time and resource. Most sending platforms have not thought about the content part of automation.

Matt Hayes is CEO & Co-Founder at Kickdynamic.

The age of the Chatbot. Who is sending smart transactional email?

The chatbot space, is one of the places that we are observing for changes that will impact email and marketing automation. It’s another channel that we need to take into consideration as part of our marketing mix.

Making use of cross-channel data to build more defined customer profiles will allow you to create a more representative picture of your customer. Given some time you should see a positive impact on your campaign results.

We expect to see further integration between the chatbots and email. APIs will make this fairly seamless. Consumers and business might become accustomed to seeing transactional messages their inbox being sent following interactions with chatbots in the not too distant future.

Krzysztof Jarecki is an email Marketing Fanatic and VP of Business development at ExpertSender.

Data and decision systems fight for freedom

I see a continued movement towards openness and interoperability, with fewer marketers relying on a single integrated suite for all their needs. This will happen primarily in the middle and enterprise markets, where companies have the technical resources needed to integrate separate systems.

Related to this, I see stronger movement towards distinct data and decision systems, separate from delivery systems like email and Web sites. These data and decision systems will be channel-independent, making it easier to share resources and coordinate customer treatments across channels.

That said, we have seen considerable research suggesting that many marketers are unwilling to invest in central data and decision systems. So while movement will continue in that direction, it will be slow. Companies that don’t make the investment will just stick with disconnected systems or with directly connecting a few systems to each; they won’t buy all-in-one suites either.

David Raab is a widely recognized expert in marketing technology and analytics. Independent consultant and Founder at CDP Institute.

Demand for on-premise and Hybrid grows due privacy concerns and data control

The entire ecosystem of email solutions is moving towards the cloud. Players experience that the technical proposals are flattening and overlapping. For instance, on one side, MTA solutions are increasingly becoming similar to ESP platforms, and on the other side, ESPs are often used for functions that were exclusively for MTAs before.

But this scenario doesn’t take care of some specific business needs.

Being, an ESP and MTA vendor, we notice a growing demand of on-premise solutions in all industries. Some clients need to internalize their email solution infrastructure, due to several factors, such as business models, email volumes or security and privacy policies.

Nowadays, the adoption of hybrid solutions (e.g.: outsourcing of the MTAs components) is also an interesting scenario for those companies that need to satisfy needs for privacy, full data control and high deliverability performance.

Email vendors should quickly adapt their proposal in terms of flexible and sustainable solutions to satisfy the specific needs of clients from all industries.

Fabio Masini is CTO of MagNews and the EmailSuccess MTA solution.

Deliverability trends shape campaign types and ask for new measurement

There are multiple changes in the email marketing eco system that spring from deliverability. The following are the eye-catchers for 2017:

  • ‘No auth, No entry’: Authentication will be more stricter, and without proper authentication, emails could be junk foldered.
  • Delivery of 3rd party e-mailings will become even more difficult, especially at major mailbox providers (Hotmail, Gmail).
  • IP reputation email delivery monitoring will be replaced by domain-, content- or URL/link-based monitoring. Especially the introduction of IPv6 will accelerate this trend.
  • Bulk Newsletter sending will become less effective and will be replaced by targeted personalised emails with the right content at the right moment.
  • There will be a new, complementary way to measure deliverability: next to traditional ‘recipient based delivery monitoring’ (e.g. seed-list monitoring) there will be ‘sender based delivery monitoring’ where every individual e-mail transaction is monitored. We are working on this topic at Postmastery with our own delivery analytics platform.

Willem Stam is partner at Postmastery, specialised in email systems, deliverability and monitoring.

Market Consolidation will accelerate, while new players enter the game

The consolidation of the market will continue at an accelerated pace. American players will lead the game, and already very lager actors will buy relatively smaller players (Salesforce is likely to buy hubspot, Oracle could buy Salesforce). But some important players will appear/grow, namely due to cultural and regulatory factors.

No more BYOMT (Bring Your Own Marketing Technology)
The era of BYOMT (Bring Your Own Marketing Technology) will soon be behind us. CTOs will once again play a central role in the choice of marketing technologies. For years several analysts have claimed that the CMO has more power within organizations than the CTO. However, they failed to see the growing complexity of marketing automation. This essentially relates to data; the availability, standardization, understanding, and protection … areas in which marketers tend to be poorly equipped in terms of their education and empathies.

Benoît De Nayer
Founder & Director ACTITO, Marketing Automation & e-mail Specialist, Digital Entrepreneur.

ABM will start to appear in every (B2B) platform

As the lines fade between different types of Marketing technology, ABM makes its entry into Marketing Automation platforms. Especially those that target the B2B audience. Marketo being one of the first to add it, other enterprise and Cloud / Suites will follow. The trend is understandable after Account Based Marketing has been popularized over the last few years to the point that B2B marketers and sales teams are asking for specific functionality.

Jordie van Rijn is an independant Email Marketing and Marketing Automation consultant, MarTech enthusiast and the founder of emailvendorselection.

Two-directional migration backing down from the single-stack

Many tier one providers have recently adopted the single-stack approach; think the Marketing Clouds of Salesforce and Oracle. These solutions appeal to the top-end data giants who can afford to invest in high-risk, high-cost solutions.

Many email marketers have bought the dream of the marketing suite, only to discover that the reality is far from the promise. The pain occurs when it comes to making use of the tools. Often the accumulated technologies don’t talk kindly to each other in practice. It’s also clear that a lot of the bells and whistles incorporated into these platforms end up gathering dust, as businesses fail to make use of them.

We’re already seeing a move back down to the mid-market from those tier one providers.

I think we’ll likely end up seeing a two-directional migration to the mid-market best of breed. These providers will integrate a handful of top-spec technologies and demonstrate seamless scalability.

Tink Taylor
is Founder & President of dotmailer.

Specialist 3rd Party suppliers are on the rise

Unlike the old days of when the Email Service Provider (ESP) was expected to provide all necessary features, I believe that 3rd party suppliers of specialist services (real-time, personalisation, cart abandonment etc.) will increase in the variety and number of services provided.

As these specialist 3rd Party suppliers have been designed to integrate easily with all major ESP’s, the adoption of them by clients will complicate the relationship process, as multiple email suppliers will now have a direct relationship with the client, which in turn can prove to be problematic as conflicting advice may be provided by these multiple suppliers.

Kath Pay is Founder & Senior Consultant at Holistic Email Marketing.

Productising AI will affect email marketing agencies and brands

The biggest change coming to email in 2017 should be no surprise to anyone in the email & marketing automation business. Its Artificial Intelligence (AI). The big players are integrating it into their systems as we speak. With less fanfare Marketo announced it is adding predictive email content to its platform recently.

Smaller companies realizing the potential of AI are productizing today. Companies such as Automizy with AI drip campaigns (in beta), Boomtrain with “Artificial Intelligence for Marketers” and Phrasee with AI optimized subject lines. I’m sure there are many others out there, but these come to mind.

How will AI affect email marketing agencies and brands?
The problem with big data is that it takes a lot a time to analyze and wring out value. AI will do the analyzing for us and quickly ferret out new marketing opportunities.

The agency and brand will have more time to dedicate to the creative process to address these opportunities rather than digging into the numbers. Today’s overly complex automation flows could be laid out by AI without the agency or brand having to consider possible overlap. It could be handled in the background without the need for marketer intervention.

I believe we will see many more email & marketing automation companies adding AI to their platforms in 2017. It’s been 5 years since Watson accomplished the incredible feat of beating 2 Jeopardy champions so don’t expect AI in email to work miracles overnight.

Gerald Marshall is Head of Operations at Email Industries.

Account-based marketing (ABM) and the rise of “Smart Outbound”

ABM will remain one of the hottest MarTech categories in 2017. with marketers looking to deepen prospect data, personalization, the search for an antidote to adtech inefficiency and content marketing noise, a new generation of martech visualization, and the demand for greater sales and marketing alignment in the digital world.

I think we’ll see ABM capabilities implemented across a wide range of martech products. The rise of “smart outbound” will accompany this as a counterpoint to inbound marketing — but a harmonious counterpoint.

Scott Brinker is Co-founder & CTO of ion interactive; Editor of chiefmartec.com.

About Jordie van Rijn


Jordie van Rijn is an independent email marketing consultant and Analyst. He is the Founder of Email Vendor Selection and specializes in smart email marketing, optimisation and RFP / vendor selection. Named on of "50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch in 2016 " by Entrepreneur magazine.

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  • Martha

    It’s very interesting what’s going on in the email and marketing automation world. I like the direction that GetResponse and other tools like that are going. That’s an easy to use solution for small businesses with marketing automation.