We recently highlighted our prediction that email will continue to grow in 2017. For email marketers, we believe another best friend in the “who do I send to?” game are marketing automation tools that provide user interaction data, as well as the recipients’ impression of the brand. For those who aren’t familiar with marketing automation, we define the term as any software or technology that automates portions of the marketing process. But I also believe that marketing automation is more than that because it provides valuable data points that allow marketers to determine who to target within their list of leads with varying outreach methods. So in a sense, marketing automation is more than just a streamlined action–it’s a tool that helps you strategize. Some of the best senders in the email industry have written great background information on this as well. How to choose marketing automation platforms Based on our experience with different senders our delivery team works with, we’ve learned that email strategy is best optimized through a close relationship between email stats and the other website visits/conversions/etc. found in most marketing automation platforms. I say “most” because doing a Google search of “marketing automation” will return more results than you can actually fully research (or that are worth looking into). Just make sure the ones you move forward with are reputable and allow you to dig into the data (sessions, % of new sessions, bounce rates, conversion goals, and engagement to name a few) that are relevant to the success of your business. The marketing automation trend should continue to grow because it provides relevant insights telling a sender each user’s view of their brand and not just through the email relationship. I would argue that raw email stats are the most needed variable to optimize a successful email marketing program. No surprise there. But, if you have the ability to use those insights (whether via your ESP or in-house mail solution) along with the users’ interactions with all brand touchpoints on your site, you may be able to widen the spectrum of categories your recipients live in. One of these new interactions stats is via “universal links” which is a great new feature SendGrid now has available. For example, if a sender sees that a user doesn’t open email messages, but makes purchases soon after the message is received, they obviously use that reminder to interact with the brand. But, the inbox filters don’t know this and, if the user never interacts with a message, they will have to be removed from the recipient list at some point (but at a later point in time than one who hasn’t opened or clicked a message and hasn’t purchased or visited the site). Every marketer should be aware that inbox filters base most all decisions on inbox interactions (I say most just in case some of the conspiracy rumors floating around regarding further tracking are true). But when deciding when to fully remove a user from a recipient list vs. slowly sunsetting them off of a list, additional information around brand interaction (thank you marketing automation) is crucial and we expect to see it grow. And we’re excited to have great senders who are trying to improve their email program by incorporating that additional insight into their email marketing strategy. Learn more about email delivery and how you can improve your email program by visiting SendGrid’s Expert Services page.