It doesn’t really seem possible that email has changed so much in the last five years but, indeed, it has. From things like purchase data to email engagement, cart-abandon, product search and browse-abandon, as well as a few others, email marketing has weathered storms, combated ecommerce’s biggest threats, and endured more changes in the last five years then possibly in its entire history.

Five years ago, for example, when a consumer made a transaction with any company, they knew that they had to give some personal information in order to facilitate the transaction. Additional messaging was usually included by marketers as well, in order to cross-sell and up-sell.

Today it’s expected that, when you purchase something from a brand, they already know about your previous experiences and engagements with them based on your customer profile. Indeed, they’re tracking your behaviors and communicating with you based on those behaviors. Even more, people actually expect to be tracked these days, even though for some it might still be a little bit “creepy.”

One truly fundamental shift in the last five years is with open-and-click data. Five years ago, marketers minimized their “stalking” by using open-and-click to enhance their email marketing programs. Today it’s an absolutely critical metric to drive deliverability and determine if a program is “healthy” or not, as well as a leading indicator of a business email’s ability to actually end up in a subscriber’s inbox.

Another big change has been seen with abandon-cart messaging. While five years ago it was looked upon as something that was a “last ditch” effort to get a consumer to purchase a product that they had “abandoned” in a company’s shopping cart, today abandon-cart email messages are standard practice for online sales as well as consumers and coupon bloggers (who actually recommend it as a money-saving tactic). It’s actually become such an important component of a company’s overall marketing mix that most organizations are leveraging it.

All told, email marketing has survived and thrived amidst several major changes in the last five years. And it’s not a big surprise when you consider the other factors that have changed drastically in the same time, including the global shift to engaging with the Internet through mobile devices. And, in five more years, one can only imagine how many more challenges, opportunities, and changes email marketing will experience.