E-Mail Marketing is one of the most enduring components of Internet marketing, having remained viable even with the advent of social media marketing, and still proving itself as one of the most efficient and powerful ways to connect with both existing and potential customers. However, marketing itself is constantly evolving, particularly with the help of new technology. As time passes, even the most enduring forms of marketing will have to evolve and give way to more effective ones or risk being left in the dust. When it comes to the future of E-mail marketing, experts and analysts are predicting a few key things, such as:

E-Mail Marketing Will Go Mobile

While there is room for e-mail marketing in a desktop world, marketers will soon (if they haven't already) evolve their processes and campaigns to better support users who are accessing the Internet via a mobile device. This is because the number of mobile users are already starting to surpass the number of desktop users at an alarming rate, with 2013 being the year in which mobile will successfully overtake desktop and laptop online access[1].

What this means for E-mail marketers is that they will have to target mobile users not just in terms of content, but also with the structure of the messages themselves. For instance, graphics should be avoided, or at least resized in order to look good when viewed through a small screen. Text will also have to be formatted in bite-sized chunks, as bulky paragraphs will look too tedious to read on a mobile phone's screen.

File size is also a concern. Despite an overall increase in available bandwidth, there are still numerous mobile devices that have limited computing power, resulting in an inability to handle large-sized files. Another problem are those mobile users who are piggybacking on poor connections or using their GSM for browsing. It will be important for e-mail marketers to optimize and streamline their messages in order to avoid inconveniencing recipients. 

Visual Marketing Will Take Off

2012 saw the rise of Instagram and Pinterest as viable venues for marketing and brand-creation, proving that we are moving to a more visually oriented landscape. E-mail marketers will have to follow suit and create their message with more attention to visualization. This means there is a need to find ways to make your textual content stand out via the addition of graphics - quotes can be turned into images, the messages will contain photos of interest, and graphs will play a big role in presenting statistical facts and figures. 

Videos in E-mails Will Be More Effective

In the past, hosting and bandwidth limitations ensured that videos had no place in e-mail messages, but now that bandwidth availability has grown exponentially, the technical limitations are no longer holding back marketers from taking full advantage of videos in their messages. There will also be more variety in the modes of delivery, with HTML5 proving that flash is not the only feasible way of streaming video.

Personalized E-mails Will Be Crucial To Success

The ability to make your messages look like it was personally written for the recipient has always been one of the most effective ways to increase conversion and click-through rates, by as much as 10% and 14%, respectively[2]. This is because people have a tendency to subconsciously place more trust in a message that is written specifically for them, as opposed to a message that was mass-produced and targeted towards a large number of people.

In the past, E-mail marketers were able to give the impression of a personalized e-mail with rudimentary techniques such as addressing the recipient by his first name, but nowadays there are ways to add even more personal touches such as past interactions, favorite products, and random preferences. And there's no need to be shady about it. If you manage to leverage social media for your campaigns, you will find that consumers who are loyal to your brand will be more than willing to share these data with you, all you have to do is build a rapport with them.

Geographic Email Triggering

Now that GPS trackers are becoming common in portable computing devices (such as tablets and smartphones), e-mail marketers will be able to take advantage of the technology in order to send localized and highly-targeted emails to recipients while they are riding on public transportation, waiting in line, eating out, or even while they are at their office desk. The approaches are still spotty at best, but we can expect that it will be further streamlined in the future until it reaches the point where you can receive a relevant e-mail offer as soon as you step food inside a shop or pass through a fast food establishment.

Free Shipping Offers will be Replaced by E-Gifts

Free shipping has already lost a large part of its appeal as an incentive for buyers, simply because it has been given away too much that it has become expected as part of a normal transaction, especially during holidays. This resulted in many retailers dropping minimum purchase requirements and eliminating free shipping promo codes and rewards.

The new incentives will come in the form of free gift cards or promo codes for products and services. It's not as easy on the pockets of retailers to offer as free shipping, but with a large enough profit margin coupled with less than 95% redemption rate, an e-gift card's ability to drive repeat business may end up costing retailers less than the face value to provide. One thing email marketers should avoid is devalue the incentive with gift cards that are nothing but almost-useless coupons with an expiration date.