[GUEST POST: Garin Hobbs, Vice President Client Solutions, Shaw + Scott. Thanks Garin! ]
Following up on one of my previous email marketing posts, Beat the Clock: Unlocking the Mystery of Send Time Optimization, I mentioned optimizing the experience at the time of open. Campaigns with evergreen content are one of the areas in email marketing where contextual email marketing technology can make the most immediate impact. Here at Shaw+Scott, we constantly keep the customer experience top-of-mind. Our friends at Liveclicker are recognized leaders, changing the face of email and how it can perform in a real-time marketing environment.
Beat the Clock focused on send-time optimization and the mystery behind the best day, week, hour, or minute to send out an email campaign. This post will show how real-time content personalization changes the “best time to send the campaign” to more of a “best data to leverage for content” perspective. Again, send time is not a consistent replacement for a thoughtful, well-managed email strategy. The best time to send an email is when they want one!
That said, it’s important to keep all phases of customer experience in mind when managing an email channel. Send time optimization without contextual email technology only addresses a small portion of the ‘relevancy’ issues most email marketers face on a daily basis. Email triggers also don’t cover the entire customer experience, just a portion of interaction within the lifecycle. Going back to the previous post, the idea that we (consumers) have been conditioned with postal mail to view when we get the envelope as irrelevant – what we focus on is the value of the sender. This focus is evident when we sort through our mail immediately from the mailbox and throw away the junk mail. Email seems to be no different.
Consumers as a whole qualify email by sender, then subject line (message type), then use that message to dictate if the next email gets opened. This qualification process isn’t entirely solved at any point by send-time optimization, only with content strategy does time become a relevant variable. By combining send-time (automation/triggers), content strategy, and real-time personalization – email becomes far more relevant, contextual and consistently engaged. Much more so than a newsletter delivered on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning with static content inside.
Improving Automated Email Content in Real-Time
Triggered content, especially content that needs to be evergreen, like mentioned above can be improved tremendously with real-time email technology. Real-time content can be used to create a standalone campaign or integrated into existing HTML emails for additional interaction; either way, the content utilizes forward-facing segmentation, real-time data points, custom targeting, and multi-variate content delivery to create a highly-personalized email experience.
Here are some ways real-time email content can improve a campaign:
- Triggered campaigns
- Pull live social media data right into an email
- Display content scraped in real-time from a website
- Target opener device for technology-specific messaging
- Deliver a discount with expiration timer in abandoned cart messaging
- Personalize pick-up locations or nearest brick-and-mortar store with live mapping
- Add live tracking content to post-purchase email communications
- Newsletter campaigns
- Shorten newsletter length with targeted videos
- Get data directly from opener’s with live polling
- Create multiple messaging opportunities with personalized slideshows
- Render images based on opener’s location, weather forecast, time zone, etc
- Cross-promote live social channel data and campaigns in real-time
- Use scratch-to-reveal images for promotions and giveaways
- Sales/Marketing campaigns
- Use countdown timers to create urgency around an offer
- Communicate more personally with a video message
- Hyper-personalize emails with live, targeted images
- Improve messaging with targeted, rotating slideshows
- Deepen email content relevance with local weather-based personalization
- Improve brand validity with live, personalized social media content
There are much more ways to use contextual email technology; you can see this list is just a little sample of methods and applications in which real-time content can be used. Remember, what’s important is the experience and how much a subscriber enjoys interacting with the content. Send-time optimization should be used after content has been optimized to its fullest. If the message doesn’t resonate with recipients – it doesn’t matter what time you send it.
If you haven’t already – take a look at real-time email personalization and imagine what areas could be improved with your email campaigns. More than likely, there is a spot for contextual personalization to improve the current results.
About Garin Hobbs
Vice President, Client Solutions – Seattle Garin is an accomplished sales and marketing executive with over 20 years of experience building brand awareness and revenue. With a career spanning across ESPs, agencies, and technology providers, Garin is known for his ability to grow email marketing programs, help launch new technologies, and develop the strategies and thought leadership to support these endeavors. By specializing in optimally aligning people, processes, and technologies, Garin has delivered meaningful improvements in consumer experience and program revenue for such brands as Gap, Starbucks, Western Union, Bank of America, United Airlines, and Hilton Hotels.