An Email Marketer’s Holiday Wish List
It's the time of year when a lot of people are putting together their holiday wish lists. Whether it’s kids putting together a list of toys for Santa (Xbox, Elmo, a Red Rider BB gun), or grown-ups letting their partners and family members know what they might want (Amazon gift card, Apple Watch, Roomba), there’s a lot of gift giving and receiving about to happen. Side note: our kids are grown up now, so my kid's present examples might be a little out of date. LOL!
Email marketers are wrapping up another year of exceeding expectations, so I think it’s safe to say that as an industry, we’ve made Santa’s “Nice List.” With that in mind, I wanted to put together a little wish list of things that email marketers might want to find under the tree this year. I tried to be realistic, since it’s not hard to come up with some major wish list items like 100% deliverability or an endless list of engaged and responsive recipients to mail. But even Santa has his limits. So here are a few slightly more feasible ideas that come to mind.
AI That Can Write Full Email Copy
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionize a huge number of industries like transportation, customer support, healthcare, and marketing. Email marketing is definitely in the mix to be disrupted by AI in a variety of ways. Check out this recent article on Only Influencers for a look at one area where AI will change email - Generative AI is Going to Change Email. If you’ve come across AI tools like Dall-E or the photo app Lensa, then you’ve experienced a bit of what AI may deliver.
Creating effective marketing content is always a challenge, since it takes both time and skill. But, if AI could create content of similar or higher quality than a human copywriter and create it in virtually no time, that would be a game changer. Over the last year, I tested a few AI platforms focused in the copywriting arena, after seeing a pretty impressive demo at a conference. The idea was that there were AI tools that could create an entire email or article content with minimal human input.
While I found that there were AI platforms that did a great job of iterating on a single sentence or subject line (like Quilbot), once I went beyond that to create content sections or entire articles, the results weren’t ready for prime time. One part of me was pleased that SkyNet isn’t quite ready to take over the world yet, but on the other hand, I was really intrigued by the idea that AI could create longer form copy to test against human-created content. From my experience, we aren’t quite there yet with most of the tools I have tested.
Recently, I started testing a new AI tool called ChatGPT and it looks like it is taking things a step further than the tools I was evaluating previously. It’s still not quite there, but appears to be getting a lot closer. So, the idea that an AI could generate quality email content is definitely on the horizon and a worthwhile addition to any email marketer’s holiday wish list.
Attribution Algorithms that Show the True Value of Email in the Multichannel Marketing Mix
This is a pretty specific wish, but if Santa is smart enough to build a supply chain and delivery process that can deliver packages to the entire world in about 14 hours, I think he can manage this one too. Those of us in performance-based digital marketing have become familiar with a host of different strategies and tools for solving the multichannel attribution puzzle. Back in the early days of digital marketing, the concept of last click wins was fairly common. But, as multichannel marketing evolved and marketers began taking less of a siloed approach to their marketing strategies, it became apparent that this simple attribution model was not telling the whole story. Since those days a variety of other attribution models have been developed, including various types of fractional attribution, with the ultimate goal of giving each marketing channel the correct amount of credit for a sale, lead, or other type of conversion.
But, even after all this evolution, most marketers would still admit that their attribution model is imperfect. Certainly better than no attribution model, but except in the rare instances where a conversion is generated with only one marketing channel, it’s a bit of a guessing game to determine how much credit to give to each channel and which one should be considered the ultimate ‘winner’ of the conversion.
So, Santa will have his work cut out for him to create an attribution model that delivers true attribution accuracy. But, maybe just giving every email marketer a solid attribution model that shows how valuable email is in the sales process would be a pretty great holiday gift. Like getting a pony instead of a unicorn. Not quite perfect, but not bad either.
An End to Articles Wondering if Email is Dead
We’ll end the list with a fun one. How many articles have you seen over the years with titles involving some version of “Email is Dead?" Admittedly, the majority just use that headline as click-bait and then by the end of the article they note that email is doing just fine. I’m pretty sure I was seeing articles like this back in the late 1990s when I first got into email marketing and yet they still continue to this day. You might think after 40+ years, email marketing would have earned a little more respect. But marketers have always suffered from bright shiny object syndrome and email hasn’t been shiny and new since the late 1970s.
Still, after the last few years when email marketing took on a starring role in companys' digital marketing programs during the pandemic, it would be great if the prognosticators decided that predicting the demise of email just might be a losing bet in a world where cookies are slowly going away and the email address remains as arguably the most important and stable personal identifier available.
So, it would be great to go a year without seeing any more articles pondering how a dinosaur like email can still thrive in the modern marketing world.