Read Time: 5 min

The Future of Email Marketing [Video]


Think of the innovations that have impacted email marketing professionals in the past 5 years—things like mobile devices becoming the dominant email-reading platform, the debut of the Apple Watch, the firm establishment of engagement-based email filtering by ISPs, the cross-channel integration of email marketing, and the emergence of interactive email functionality like email carrousels and hamburger menus.

Considering all of that change, we couldn’t help but wonder: What do the next 5 years have in store?

For our Email Marketing in 2020 report, we asked 20 experts to tackle this question. Their answers augur dramatic changes in personalization, automation, interactivity, compliance, and much more.

We asked this same question of six of our speakers at The Email Design Conference. Their answers focused on email production workflow, coding support, the subscriber experience, and interactive elements.

You can watch the full interview here, or read a transcript of it below.


Brian Graves, UI Team Lead, DEG

In 2020, the subscriber experience in my mind will really be a lot more interactive in nature. So, all these new CSS elements and things we can do there are going to kind of be mainstream at that point in my mind. We’re going to move past some of these limitations of older clients like Outlook and hopefully by then Outlook and Gmail have moved on as well and we’ll have much more advanced things we can do in the inbox.

Fabio Carneiro, Lead Email Developer & UX Designer, MailChimp

So in five years I think the subscriber experience will—it will probably get messier before it gets better. You know, there’s a lot of push right now for—as all these exciting technologies become more and more available to email designers—there is certainly this rush to try to use everything you can without necessarily stopping to think about whether or not you should. So we’re going to be fighting a lot of that certainly over the next five years—I mean, definitely over the next year, just given how fast we move.

Lee Munroe, Product Design Lead, Mailgun by Rackspace

We’re going to see a lot more front-end web development coming into email. We’ve seen responsive design obviously come in to email. We’re going to see a lot more eventually come over to email as the clients catch up, hopefully. Maybe we’ll even see email standards at some point. Fingers crossed.

Mark Robbins, Email Developer, Rebelmail

In 2020, there’s still going to be some sort of overflow from the old things. People will still be using older versions of Outlook. We’re still going to have to work with fallbacks, but we’re going to have a much higher percentage of interactive email clients. So we will be able to build a lot more advanced emails. They’ll be a lot more going on with dynamic content, dynamics CSS—more of a personal experience as well.

I think there’s still going to be a split. People hand-coding emails because you can build something very quick hand-coded. Just knock it together in Litmus Builder and send it out, and that’s a nice simple process. But also a lot more build processes and workflows, like Gulp and Grunt, and automating things of code, as well as the sort of simple drag-and-drop type editors which will have this advanced code built in the back of them, but anyone—any marketer without any coding skills—can log on and do these things.

Dan Denney, Front-End Developer, Code School

If we’re talking about building email in the year 2020, our picture is gonna be way different than what we’re doing right now. We’re not going to be writing our own code. It’s going be a lot more drag-and-drop to making decisions around more like an “if that, then this,” send this email. So we’re getting customized messages to all our users based on their data. And I think that the blast will be a thing of the past.

Mike Ragan, Designer, Action Rocket

The boundaries are always being pushed and it’s like and we’re expanding into nothing, like an always ever expanding universe. So I actually don’t know what they’re going to look like. Maybe it will all be plain text. I don’t know. Maybe it’ll go completely on its head. And that will be it. I mean, that’s what people were saying for the watch. I mean, wearables, it’s the next step because it’s where we’re at now. I don’t know. I’m interested to see how email design evolves.

Email Marketing in 2020

Prepare for the future of email marketing with the insights of 20 leading experts, plus survey results from thousands of marketers and consumers.

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