The 5 biggest Unpredictions in 2014 Digital Marketing

All digital marketers can benefit from a clear understanding of what the business areas are that demand their attention. After pondering trends in the digital marketing software, it is time to look into which themes to discard.

Some digital marketing developments just won’t put a dent into your online marketing success anytime soon.

Digital marketing UNpredictions and NonTrends for 2014

We asked our panel of digital marketing experts for their biggest UNpredictions for 2014. What are the Untrends that might lead to nonsense and will not happen in 2014? Which have been given too much attention in 2013? Our panel of email marketing experts share their thoughts. After that share their ideas on the digital marketing areas that do demand our attention.

Email won’t die, digitization of communication has only just begun

We can be sure that email is not going to die; it’s here to stay and even growing. Email is moving on every day from mainly commercial ‘one size fits all’ communication which is not personal or relevant (SPAM), to deep integration into the business-critical processes of organizations. Digitization of communication has only just begun and email will play an increasingly important role in sales and marketing, as well as in service processes.


Joost Nienhuis – CEO Tripolis Solutions

Full video email needs higher adoption

I think that full video in email will take a lot longer to be fully adopted than many have first predicted. Although the majority of current video’s play in client views are seen on iOS devices, I think that the more traditional desktop and webmail providers will be much slower to follow suit and don’t see this change happening in 2014. That’s not to say that it won’t happen at some point in the future however!


Lisa Coombes – Account Manager Variant4

Stay calm with inbox innovation like Gmail Tabs

Gmail’s inbox feature, “Tabs” received too much digital marketing attention in 2013 and spread fears its promotion tab would be the end email marketing. Fuelled by frantic pleas from businesses requesting Gmail users to move its marketing emails from the promotions tab to the primary tab assumed that subscribers would not like the new Gmail inbox feature.


A more prudent course of action was to educate Gmail users about the many options they have to customize their inbox. This provided an opportunity to demonstrate a brands willingness to help its subscribers adapt and successfully navigate new technology.

From my viewpoint, tabs was just the latest inbox innovation (and I am sure there will be more) to guide permission-based messages into the “correct” folder. For those people who prefer email to other communication channels, this might be the best place for a brands email to reside. Here, the recipient has clear expectations for the type of messages in the folder, little distraction from personal communications, and with the intention to discover sales, coupons, or deals.

W. Jeffrey Rice – Former Sr. Researcher Analyst at MarketingSherpa and Director of Marketing Strategy at Brick Street Software

No question, Email remains the killer app

The death of email is greatly exaggerated. Email remains the killer app. Even the fear that the international spy agencies can snoop on your every email won’t limit its growth. It will remain the focal point for communication across the Internet.


Nickolas-Eckert – CEO Graphicmail

Investing big in Social integration for specific industries only

While mobile deserves all the hype it has been getting, I think significant investment in tying Social to the marketing mix is something that makes sense for very specific industries and companies. This is not to say that Social is not important or growing, but many companies get caught up in wanting to have a significant social presence and take their eye off optimizing the core of their campaigns as a result.


Marco Marini – CEO of ClickMail Marketing

But which areas to focus on in digital marketing?

So far the Unpredictions for 2014 digital marketing, but what would be the one area the email and online marketer should focus on for the coming year? What is the one thing they can do to make this year a success and even stay ahead of the pack?

Be responsive and demand a newsletter template that is too

Make sure to use an ESP solution that offers responsive newsletter templates and framework; this ensures that email newsletters look just as beautiful on a small mobile screen as on a desktop computer, as if they don’t, and based on the fact that more and more subscribers read their email on a mobile phone, you will see a much lower engagement rate including opens, clicks and orders.


Additionally, with the launch of Google’s tabbed Inbox, it will become more important than ever before for an email sender to instil trust with his subscribers, for a sender to make that personal connection via mass communications, and to send content that is useful, exciting, unique – in line with Google’s latest algorithm change, Hummingbird!

Barbara Ulmi – Marketing Director Graphicmail

Dive into Segmentation headfirst

Segmentation. Sure, it’s nothing new, but when you can break your audience down into smaller, targeted segments and offer them relevant, meaningful offers, metrics and outcomes skyrocket.


Enroll someone who knows data and dive into it headfirst. Start with hunches – “I wonder if this segment has a tendency to like this offer, let’s see if it’s true.” Once the data is in hand, USE IT. The beauty of email is that it’s so easy to test. Test your hunches, test your offers. We’ve seen incredible results by segmenting our clients’ audiences at a deeper level and the results have been outstanding. I think it’s far too often overlooked and 2014 would be a good time to refocus on it.

TJ Rosenberg – Marketing Manager at Inbox Marketer

Create hyper-targeted campaigns to improve ROI

One of the most important things to improve ROI is segmenting marketing campaigns. If you don’t segment your marketing campaigns yet: don’t wait any longer, and begin testing/implementing it tomorrow. Make a dent in the universe and improve on your marketing objectives by putting customers first: based on profile, preferences and (past) behavior. If you are segmenting today, start testing/making the dialog with your customers even more personal and relevant by making it a 1:1 hyper-targeted dialog that engages and converts even better.


Joost Nienhuis – CEO Tripolis Solutions

Resolve a specific problem and focus on trust

Email marketing’s ability to take a reader on a journey right from the inbox to an ecommerce site powers its popularity. More importantly, the technology can measure the open, click-thru and conversion rates to optimize future campaigns.


That said I encourage marketers to remain steadfast in the pursuit of a relationship with the subscriber. The goal is to engage in a two-way conversation in which all parties attempt to resolve a specific problem. As marketers, we need to continue to be attentive to changes in customer preferences and adjust our content and its delivery channels.

The customer’s relationship is with the brand and its message, not the medium. When organization’s focus on earning an individual’s trust, the customer will be willing to share contact information in return for communications that are relevant to their interests. Trust opens a dialog, and if the conversations are personal, engaging and helpful, it will develop into brand loyalty.

W. Jeffrey Rice – Former Sr. Researcher Analyst at MarketingSherpa and Director of Marketing Strategy at Brick Street Software

Testing is still the biggest missed opportunity

Despite all the hype I still thing that testing (of lack thereof) is still the biggest missed opportunity for the average marketer. Every email that goes out should have at least one test. If you’re not testing you’re not learning. At the most basic level, a subject line test can help.


For those that have more sophisticated tracking in place, you can go all the way to engagement or ROI. For someone that is starting out, my recommendation is to start with testing and optimizing the landing page. Landing pages is one of the areas where you get the biggest return on optimization.

Barbara Ulmi – Marketing Director Graphicmail

Optimize across digital marketing channels

Nickolas-Eckert adds: Make sure all your communications are optimized across multiple media platforms –PC, tablet and mobile. Make sure that you pay as much attention to how each client is interacting – frequency of opens and what they click on to drive future campaigns.


Nickolas-Eckert – CEO Graphicmail

Really focus on their engagement rates

I would recommend that email marketers really focus on their engagement rates in the coming year. The ISPs are constantly changing their criteria for inbox placement, and at the moment a large part of that is being effected by the engagement rates they see. We would always recommend to our clients that it’s better to send to smaller volumes of more engaged recipients rather than sending one size fits all, ‘batch and blast’ campaigns.


Lisa Coombes – Account Manager Variant4

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, online marketing strategy, software selection, campaign management, optimisation and RFP / vendor selection. He tested, reviewed, and wrote about 100+ business software including email marketing services, CRMs, ecommerce platforms, and online course creators. Published in-depth email marketing guides for financial service, ecommerce, travel, restaurant, and fashion industries.
Named one of "50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch" by Entrepreneur magazine. Companies like Scania, KLM, Unilever, AEGON, CZ, FNV, NRC Media have asked me for advice.

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