Email in 2025 Featuring Will Boyd, Simon Data
Please welcome Will Boyd!
Will Boyd is not new. He knows email better than most and has an impressive resume full of deliverability-focused expertise at some of the most well-known companies. He’s got the right stuff, too, as you’ll see in his answers about the future of email. From data to thoughtful optimization, skimming through his answers would be a big misstep. Dive in instead.
How do you see email fitting into the marketing mix in 2025?
I see email continuing to mature as the bedrock of a diverse communications strategy. As new marketing channels continue appearing with varying levels of success, adoption, and longevity, email will remain critical to marketers because of both the centrality of the email address to online identification and the way it provides users a centralized way to save and reference important communications. In other words, since people are not going to be getting rid of their email addresses any time soon, it will remain a preferred channel for recipients for certain types of messages well into the future.
Successful email marketing in this new world will require marketers to reframe how they view their communications channels. Those matching the the context of the message and the calls-to-action they craft to the strengths and nuances of each specific channel will be able to provide recipients brand experiences that keep them engaged. We all hate those “this could’ve been an email” meetings. The text message that should’ve been an email and vice versa can be equally frustrating for recipients.
Marketers who can craft cross-channel experiences using each channel based on the context of the message and the call-to-action will continue getting the high ROI email is traditionally known for.
What about email do you see as a nice-to-have for now, but feel will be considered table stakes by 2025?
Email marketing in 2025 will be all about first-party data. Brands are already connecting their different data sources for more accurate and actionable conversion attribution, smarter channel selection, and even to help them make sense of less-than-accurate open rates when making deliverability decisions. Knowing an open rate for a single day or campaign, or even seeing a potentially disastrous problem, isn’t sufficient for marketers to ensure they are optimizing the performance of their campaigns. With modern filters powered by machine learning, marketers taking a trend-based approach to analyzing their email sending data will make much more meaningful deliverability analysis and decisions. But analyzing longer trends with email deliverability data on its own won’t be enough.
The new table stakes is the ability to combine first-party data points with those email deliverability trends over time. We all know how Apple’s privacy protection efforts have inflated open rates across all mailbox providers. This trend from Apple and others toward increased data privacy is likely to extend beyond 2025. By no means am I suggesting marketers will need to abandon use of the open rate as a deliverability metric. Successful marketers in 2025, though, will need to identify and track meaningful first-party conversion data points over time by mailbox provider to compare those metrics alongside delivery rates, open rates, and click rates across different mailbox providers. This will give them quick and accurate ways to identify potential deliverability problems and make much more confident decisions.
What do you hope or wish to see change within email by 2025?
By 2025, I wish people would finally stop “day trading” their email deliverability. When I think of day trading in this context, I’m thinking of marketers who continually make reactive changes on a campaign-by-campaign basis in an attempt to find the perfect mix of recipients. The hope is this magical targeting mix will result in the most messages in the inbox on the next send. This process is then repeated for nearly each send. I’m exhausted just thinking about it.
As a practice, day trading deliverability can create its own negative outcomes. For starters, the more varied your sending behavior is from send to send, the quicker mailbox providers will start to distrust your mail in general. Over time, your actual inboxing results to your engaged customers and prospects will become more volatile and even may decline. Whenever I’ve talked to mailbox providers, they share that the best way to make sense of deliverability results is by paying close attention to trends. They are usually quick to share that individual campaigns can have different inboxing outcomes for a variety of reasons varying based on a sender’s sending reputation. Those senders consistently generating positive signals of wanted mail will see their inboxing outcomes be much more consistent and positive.
This brings me to another drawback to day trading deliverability: The volatility it creates with open, click, and delivered rates can mask signals that would otherwise tell a marketer their campaigns aren’t converting as well as they used to. Knowing what recipients are truly engaging with and optimizing for that is far and away the most effective way to improve your email deliverability. For marketers in 2025, clarity around what is truly performing well will result in much better ROI than activities simply changing their open rates.