10 MarTech Experts Decipher the Future of Email and Marketing Automation

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What will be the most interesting developments and trends? We asked industry experts for their views on the future of Email Marketing & Marketing Automation.

As Marketing and technology forward with leaps and bounds, we see the outlines of how technologies could turn into profits and growth as well as the challenges that are looming in that same space.

Marketers will rationalize technology stacks to achieve economy of architecture

The major marketing clouds are foundational players in the martech ecosystem, but the narrative that one-suite-will-rule-them-all has diminished in the past year. The far majority of marketers I talk with are embracing a multi-product stack strategy.

This is becoming easier with solid platform APIs, plenty of “middleware” options and a focus on out-of-the-box integration from specialist martech providers.

The best part of the trend is that multi-product marketing stacks are increasingly “rationalized” — i.e., they are implemented with de-duped use cases, a clear division of responsibility and a workable data interchange strategy. This comes to an overall economy of architecture strategy (as few products needed to achieve success, but no fewer).

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

Data ecosystems unlock an information work-flow with lower costs

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 web tracking, social media, BI solutions, CRM or ERP systems and email marketing. Probably, this process will not end in 2017 and will continue in the coming years.

Being able to use and process both the data from email marketing platforms and the data outsourced from integrated apps and services the email communication will be highly personalized and relevant. The focus of cutting edge Email Service Providers will be on implementing machine learning technology to better estimate and answer the needs of email recipients.

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

Artificial intelligence will take over campaign execution

Over the next few years, artificial intelligence will play an even bigger role in many of our campaign execution processes. Most companies have a large content library, so we’ll see greater automation of segmentation and matching of customers with the most appropriate content for their business goals.
Machines analyse data more efficiently and will find correlations, patterns, and trends that we now do by hand, automated. What’s more, they should suggest what wasn’t apparent without that analysis!

What does this mean for marketers? This automation of tasks will see their role become a little more high-level. Automation will take the hassle out of time-consuming tasks and people will have more time to focus on the more creative and fun aspects of marketing; coming up with ideas for campaigns and materials that machines will use and this should result in continuous improvement.

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

Video as the up-and-coming functionality

I’ll go with video as the up-and-coming functionality. Specifically we can expect tools that make it vastly easier to create videos. These will be accompanied by changes that make it easier to deploy video, perhaps through sampling mechanisms similar to .gifs.

We’ll see tools to understand video content, presumably taking advantage of advances in artificial intelligence. This understanding will be key to effectively tagging video so it can be analysed to understand what’s working.

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

E-mail systems move towards the data instead of other way around

More senders will demand to move their e-mail sending infrastructure towards the data, instead of moving the data to the e-mail sending infrastructure. This is directly related to the fact that big (email) data will become even more mission critical.

In order to deliver relevant content, senders will need more data-points to personalize communication that will drive user engagement. When marketers are enabled to follow this trend, ROI on email marketing programs will increase significantly.

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

Machine Learning will steer adaptive campaigns for smaller Marketing Automation platforms

Machine learning will play a bigger role in the coming years. As marketing becomes ever more complex, it is likely that some form of Artificial Intelligence will be applied to marketing automation, even in smaller solutions (in other words, not only IBM Watson and Salesforce Einstein).

Rather than having rather rigid marketing automation campaigns flow, for example, AI will allow to continuously adapt campaigns to the individual customer journey.

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

Take a seat and see the MarTech definition shuffle

The lines between Marketing Automation, Email Marketing and even account based marketing continue to fade as functionalities will overlap more and more. In other words, they are stealing each other’s good ideas. To the point that:

Campaign workflow automation embraced by small market. Before long this type of email marketing automation will be table stakes. Already prevalent in mid market, small market providers will have some kind of event triggered email. I am not talking about rudimentary autoresponders, I am talking about a version of those fancy drag and drop interfaced ones.

Marketing automation software will have dynamic email creation. It is crazy if you think about it, but many of the original automation platforms don’t yet have descent usable email creation or aren’t able to create dynamic output. This is bound to change.

ABM makes its entry into Marketing Automation platforms. Wait to see the first signs of serious Account Based Marketing (ABM) functionality to appear in B2B Marketing automation platforms. They have to, as it is been popularised over the last years to the point that B2B marketers are asking for specific functionality.

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

Expect innovation from an explosion of machine-learning start-ups

I think we’re all aware of the importance AI and predictive could have in the long-term future of email marketing automation. There’s already a major buzz following IBM’s acquisition of Watson and Salesforce’s unveiling of their own AI initiative, Einstein.

This kind of intelligent tech is super-exciting! But in order for it to identify your business’ key personas, your data needs to be complete and all your systems need to integrate. This is a big ask for the top-tier industry leaders. Their data is often in good shape, but it’s not all held in the same place.

For the mid-market, the big AI opportunities are still a little out of reach. But we’ve seen an explosion of start-ups that boast machine-learning tech, and we’ll begin to see integrations for the mid-level. Expect some innovation.

Tink Taylor
is Founder & President of dotmailer.

Integration platforms are on the rise

Integration platforms are on the rise. These platforms will offer an easier path of connecting the top marketers/engagement applications and extend the service reach of the main core product and individual clients.

At the same time. Customer engagement is all about reaching an individual person. The platforms will consolidate towards an individual engagement journey per lead, with a single access point for marketers to communicate through several communication channels – Email, SMS, IM, Push, Webpush and others.

Assaf Ben-Asher is Co-Founder of Ongage and Managing Partner at CyberHawk Ventures, an early-stage investment fund.

Iterative development on content automation in order to solve content production problems

This maybe slightly controversial, but there won’t be any important ESP developments that will increase results for marketers. Do ESPs really innovate? I’m not sure they do.

I think they will make further developments to already existing features such as automation workflows or send time optimization. ESPs tend to focus development on the more market-shifting features over developments that solve actual problems of email marketers.

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.

Matt Hayes is CEO & Co-Founder at Kickdynamic.

Account-based marketing (ABM) and sales will remain one of the hottest categories in 2017

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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  • Kulea.ma

    2017 is going to be the year when marketing automation goes main stream as we see small businesses adopting cheaper, more open and user friendly solutions, that aren’t bogged down by the technological legacies of the current crop of marketing automation big hitters.

    Beyond that, as has already been pointed out, we’ll be seeing a move towards self-optimising segmentation and journey processing that removes marketers from planning stages of automation, freeing them up to focus on creative and content.

  • Skye

    It’s going to be a truly interesting year for marketers. We can even now observe many small businesses embracing the idea of marketing automation and slowly adapting it. Solutions such as GetResponse, which are easier to use and more affordable, create a lower entry level for those who would like to use marketing automation.