2020 Prediction: New Value in Email Data

Posted by Kevin Kelleher on

The year 2000 was a simpler time. Scientists had barely sketched the human genome, and boy bands ruled the land. When it came to technology, only about 51% of US households had a computer, and you were just as likely to AskJeeves for an answer as you were to Yahoo(!) it. Google was in its infancy, and Gmail didn’t even exist.

Fast forward 16 years, and the landscape has changed considerably. Today, more than 83% of homes have at least one computer, and the Internet of Things has arrived to ensure everything from your toaster to your tea kettle is (for some reason) connected. Moreover, internet users have an unprecedented number of options when it comes to online services. Comcast, AT&T, Time Warner, and CenturyLink offer basic internet access while Google, Yahoo, AOL, Microsoft, and countless others provide free email.

For most, email is a sort of home base on the internet. We use it for personal communications, record keeping, note-taking, and more. Many sites will only accept an email address for registration, and online shopping typically requires an email address for order and shipping confirmation. Those necessities rest on top of the fact that most of the 2.7 billion email users on the planet spend most of their professional lives crafting, sending, reading, and replying to emails. For better or worse, we are conditioned to think of email as central to our being online.

Email marketers have long understood the benefits of the channel. It is a cheap, effective, and trackable means of conveying a message that increasingly allows for customization and personalization. And while marketing campaigns have become more sophisticated over time, email success metrics have largely remained the same. It’s still all about opens and clicks. But there is an untapped world of riches in email and by 2020, business professionals throughout organizations will be digging for and discovering incredible new insights.

“There’s gold in them thar emails!”

Online service providers like Google are successful because they are able to assess user preferences and point marketers in the right direction. While search and web behaviors are excellent indicators of customer intent, nothing says more about what a consumer wants than what is in their inbox.

Think about what your email says about you:

  • Netflix subscriber
  • Expecting a FedEx shipment next Monday
  • Recently took an Uber
  • Sent an anniversary gift via 1-800-Flowers
  • Just bought a 60″ TV at Best Buy
  • Upcoming service appointment at the Aston Martin dealership

More than ever, email is capturing both online and offline activities and transactions. Apple was a pioneer in storing offline transactions by digital means. Many retailers have followed suit, offering the option to have receipts emailed to you rather than printed in the store.

With 2020 on the horizon, marketers will move beyond opens and clicks to developing complete customer profiles based on actual purchases and brand affinities as seen in the inbox. Operations professionals will evaluate aggregated email data to adjust inventory in line with macro shifts toward or away from competitors. Finance departments will evaluate pricing schemes and purchase methods to optimize the customer payment process.

Email is a rich data source with value beyond marketing. From online and offline receipts to travel itineraries and brand preferences, the inbox is becoming a go-to source for business intelligence. By analyzing email data, strategic executives will predict trends, improve targeting, and discover competitive intelligence that will impact the business beyond the email channel.

Discover more ways to find value in email in our latest eBook—20 Visionary Ideas to Futureproof Your Program.


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About Kevin Kelleher

Kevin Kelleher manages Analyst Relations at Return Path. He keeps technology experts informed about all the exciting things Return Path is bringing to market. In his spare time, Kevin enjoys running and fencing. Connect with him at kevin.kelleher@returnpath.com

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