Inbound17: A Look At Email Marketing's Future

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Courtney Sembler
Courtney Sembler



What will you be doing the week of September 25th? For some of you, you might be making your way to the Boston Convention Center to kick off INBOUND17 with a HubSpot Training Day class.


Every year, thousands of inbound marketers and sales professionals come together for four days to celebrate the inbound movement. While the topics discussed at INBOUND will vary and cover all aspects of the inbound funnel, there is one topic I want to focus on this week for the "Contacts: A Growth Stack Story," and that's email marketing.

What role will email play at INBOUND17? Where can you connect with other email marketers, and how can you prepare your email strategy for 2018?

What role will email play at INBOUND17?

The first place email will appear at INBOUND17 is at 8:30 am September 25th with the HubSpot Training Day class: Developing an Inbound Email Strategy.

I will be kicking off INBOUND17 with a half-day workshop dedicated to helping you and your company develop the pieces of your inbound email strategy. We'll cover topics like:

  • Why do we send email?
  • How do we send effective email?
  • Why is email deliverability important?

There might even be a fun contest in the workshop that you won’t want to miss.

Haven’t grabbed a ticket for HubSpot Training Day? Get your ticket here.

Email is going to be a topic of conversation for many marketers and sales professionals at INBOUND. So here's an email marketing guide to INBOUND, with highlighted sessions you should attend.

Tuesday, September 26th: 

10:30 - 11:30 am 

1:00 - 1:45 pm 

4:15 - 5:00pm 

Wednesday, September 27th: 

1:00 - 1:45 pm 

2:15 - 3:00 pm 

3:30 - 4:15pm 

Each session will be focused on an individual aspect of email and why it is such an important tool for you and your business. Take a look back at INBOUND16 with Tom Monaghan and his presentation, "13 Things to Stop, Start, or Keep Doing (Only Better) With Your Email." I'd also block off time to visit Dharmesh Shah and keep an ear to the ground for any conversations that may be happening there, *wink.* 

Looking for a pre-picked agenda? Check out the recommend agendas here. 

Email is more than just a tool—it's about having conversations with your leads and customers. If you want to get ahead of your email strategy in 2018, sign up for those INBOUND talks above or watch the recordings after the event if you can't make it. There'll be plenty of innovative conversations happening after INBOUND that you'll want to be a part of.

Where can you connect with other email marketers?

There will be email marketers everywhere on the INBOUND floor this year (myself included). You're in the right place at the right time to seek out advice, educate, and inspire others on sending email. My recommendations for connecting with other email marketers at INBOUND17 are: 

  1. Attend INBOUND Welcome Party 
  2. Join the Facebook Group INBOUND17 and start connecting before you're here
  3. Monitor the #INBOUND17 Twitter Page
  4. Visit the HubSpot Academy booth at HubSpot HQ
  5. Tweet @CSembler and let's chat about email over coffee


How can you prepare for your email strategy in 2018? 

As we look into the future of what email is going to be like in 2018, we all want to be prepared for what's to come. If your contacts are the main character of your business's marketing and sales story, then email is your contacts' superpower. Email is a key tool in your inbound strategy and your Growth Stack tools. 

Think about all the emails you send out daily: to your co-workers, prospective leads, and customers. You'll find the majority of your interactions are happening over email each day.

By 2020, email marketing will have shifted into a new era. Litmus's Email Marketing in 2020 report states, "Email is more likely to be around in 10 years than Facebook, cable TV, Twitter, and other channels, according to consumers."

Imagine in 2020 when our inboxes are hyper-personalized and react to our surroundings. In the same report from Litmus, Daniel Burstein says:

"For example, if it’s 1:45 pm on Sunday and the Jaguars are playing, the top email in my inbox will be from ESPN about the playo picture. But once I leave my house and go to the local organic grocer, the shopping list from my wife and an Organic Valley coupon will switch to the top emails in my inbox. This will happen seamlessly, with no action on my part."

This is just one example of how email is going to change in your growth stack and become an even more powerful tool for engaging with your contacts. 

If these are just some examples of how email is going to be changing in the next few years, what can you and your business do to prepare for 2018? Let's take a look at five things you can do to prepare for 2018 and your email strategy.

5 Tips To Prepare for Email in 2018

  • Prepare for GDPR 
  • Mobile Focused
  • Data-Driven Email 
  • Smarter Content 
  • One-to-One Messages 
Preparing for GDPR 

What is GDPR? General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)  was designed to harmonize data privacy laws across Europe, to protect and empower all EU citizens' data privacy, and to reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy. 

Launching in May of 2018, GDPR will affect each business differently, depending on where you collect and store data. The GDPR takes a risk-based approach to data protection. Companies should work to assess their own data collection and storage practices (including the ways they use HubSpot’s marketing and sales tools) and seek their own legal advice to ensure that their business practices comply with the GDPR

HubSpot has put together a GDPR checklist for you to start thinking about GDPR and how you want to assess the changes within your company. 

Check out the GDPR checklist here

Mobile Focused 

Elliot Ross, Managing Director at Action Rocket, stated, "Mobile will be the default experience for users, and we will need to accommodate that." This change will take time, but preparing for it now will help you alter the way you think about the email you are sending and where people are receiving it. This is not about only focusing on the design of email but is also about the way we optimize everything for attention spans. Small screens changed the way people read email, and therefore, it changed how we create them. 

In 2018, start spending more time on emails that are focused on your receivers' mobile devices. Get started with this article on how to optimize your emails for mobile. 

Data-Driven Email 

Email in 2018 and beyond will leverage more data about each contact, such as their past engagements, current location, behaviors, and preferences. This will allow you to deliver messages at the right time and in the right context. Make it a goal in 2018 to leverage the data you know about your contacts to hyper-personalize your messages.

Smarter Content 

The content we send out via email needs to work harder and smarter to help the businesses we are reaching out to. Loren McDonald from Silverpop believes that, "In the next 5 years, however, email will be seen as not just a high-ROI channel by itself but rather a platform that integrates with and makes other channels more successful." 

The content we send out will be integrated with all other channels, making for smarter marketing. In 2018, shift your focus to creating smarter content that is integrated into all parts of your business. 

You can start with HubSpot Email Smart Content, here

One-to-One Messages 

One of the most exciting changes with email is the development into a message-driven platform. Email conversations will become even more personalized and connect people on a more one-to-one level. There will be discussions at INBOUND17 during Dharmesh Shah's keynote that I highly encourage you to attend and start prepping your email marketing strategy around. 

When you begin to prepare for 2018, review how your strategy will change and adjust as email grows into a platform that is highly personal. Email will continue to change shape, but its primary purpose—to enable conversations between people—will remain the same. Technology will continue to evolve to help us do that better. 


Next on the "Contacts: A Growth Stack Story" Series

Tune in next Thursday for the new article of the "Contacts: A Growth Stack Story" series. Next week, I will be posting LIVE from INBOUND17 with a recap of the talks and events that might impact the way you use HubSpot tools and the Growth Stack.

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Want to subscribe to view the whole story? Click here to check out the "Contacts: A Growth Stack Story" homepage and subscribe to updates.


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