Video is everywhere these days, and not just on your phone or TV. (Nothing like watching the news while you pump gas!)

One place video isn’t as prominent as it could or should be is in email. In some ways, the inbox represents the final digital frontier of widespread video ubiquity. But evolving technology and delivery tactics can help more email marketers harness the engaging, eye-catching power of video, too.

Why video is so compelling

Even marketers who are devoted to the written word can’t deny that video grabs attention and can drive engagement (opens and clicks) and conversions:

What’s keeping video out of email?

Tech and user issues are the main obstacles preventing video content from taking over the inbox.  

Some email clients that don’t support embedded video will display a big black rectangle instead. Even the next best alternative – showing an animated GIF or a static image with a clickable “play” button instead of the video – may eject the reader out of the email to watch the clip on the website. That means lower view rates and less time spent in the email.

Video can make the message file so large that the email client will clip it, forcing the reader to click to see the whole message. Some ISPs block messages if their file sizes exceed their limits, and mobile users may also have trouble with large files on their network (not to mention complaints about data usage).

Today’s dynamic email content platforms are capable of resolving or mitigating these tech and rendering issues by detecting and displaying the method – embedded videos, animated GIF or static image – the user’s client will support. For instance; only 3% of Liveclicker embedded video recipients see just a static image, while 40% can view the embedded video.

Experiment-worthy: live streaming and sharable social video

Online video continues to evolve, generating a flurry of developments and use cases. Not all are suitable or practical for email right now, but two show definite promise without requiring massive infusions of budget or an entire creative staff. In some cases, all you need is your phone and some fans!

1. Live video streaming

Need some numbers to show how livestreaming has gone mainstream? Here you go:

All this means is that many of your email readers know about and are open to viewing livestreamed content in your email. You won’t have to explain what it is or why it’s worth their time to watch your live event. Big, recognizable brands like Facebook, Instagram and the Super Bowl have done it for you already.

Use it in email to showcase an event: Livestream a product launch, unboxing or contest reveal. Create a library of tutorials or demos. Stream a press conference, as LG did at the 2020 Consumer Electronics Show. Any event with FOMO potential can become an engagement magnet.

Harley-Davidson used video to launch its 2019 fall FXRG Collection clothing line:

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2. TikTok social video

Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat are so-o-o-o 2018! Well, no, they’re still relevant. But now you can add TikTok to the lineup of social media channels whose content could cross-pollinate to email.

With 500 million users worldwide, (188 million TikTok app downloads in 2019 alone), chances are good some of them are in your email database if you appeal to a Generation Z demographic

This is prime UGC marketing material. Use it in email to expand your reach, reward your fans and put your customers’ faces and voices (and bizarre antics) in your emails. 

TikTok is the newest short-form social video platform, and one that’s stealing Gen Z users away from other video channels. Marketers are beginning to investigate for its potential to sell to that key audience, but, as with so many other social channels, most are still trying to figure out how to use the platform.

Mainstream brands like Macy’s, Chipotle Mexican Grill and even the Washington Post are on TikTok. But some of the most interesting uses of TikTok come from non-marquee brands, like NYX, which embeds a fan’s TikTok video in a business-as-usual email:

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Before you dive into video … 

Have a sound business reason to use it and the technology to provide a good experience for your readers. Video for video’s sake does you no favors. How does it fit into your broader strategy, and can it help you achieve your email or business goals?

Be sure you have the technology that can give your readers a good experience. Usability studies say you have only a short window – from less than 60 seconds to 90 seconds at most – before viewers will abandon a spotty stream.

A dynamic email platform content platform capable of seamlessly embedding video into emails will help you get over those rough spots and give your readers yet another avenue to love your emails.

Personalization done right delivers big benefits for consumers and email senders alike.

The word (and the trend it represents) is getting plenty of attention in the press as the second decade of the millenium winds down. And it zoomed to the top of the newsfeeds recently when it beat out “equality and inclusion,” “data,” and “in-house” as the 2019 Marketing Word of the Year in the Association of National Advertisers’ annual membership survey.

More star turns for personalization in 2019

Below are five quick takes on personalization – in general or specifically on email personalization, which is our particular wheelhouse – this year:

1. Marketers are finally getting behind advanced personalization. 

A Merkle study turned up these findings:

2. Advanced personalization pays off. 

Real-time, clickstream and live inventory data, rules-based personalization and dynamic offers based on open times can drive an additional $20 of revenue for every $1 invested in these methods of advanced personalization, according to a study by The Relevancy Group, commissioned by Liveclicker.

3. Email is the most commonly personalized marketing channel. 

A study by CMS platform developer Acquia found about 75% of marketers send personalized emails, while 53% personalize website visits.

4. Marketing personalization skills = jobs. 

About 1,250 jobs on LinkedIn alone are waiting for marketers with personalization knowledge and skills. It’s encouraging to see companies recognize the need to dedicate at least one marketing position to personalization – and we anticipate even more specialized personalization roles finding their ways into marketing departments and agencies in the coming years.

5.  Email personalization is trending. 

Our friends at Campaign Monitor dug into the personalization trend and came up with 10 surprising statistics on email personalization, including this one, via Instapage: “Segmented, personalized and targeted emails generate 58% of all revenue.”

Scrutiny, skepticism on the rise

Not everybody has the same view of personalization, current or future. In particular, Gartner has recently published some contentious research:

Others also turned a skeptical eye on marketing personalization: 

Consumers pull back on personal data. Consumers are more willing to reveal gender, race/ethnicity and marital or job status and even political or religious affiliations than their personal email addresses to get personalized ads, an Advertising Research Foundation survey found. 

In that survey, 90% of consumers would reveal gender in exchange for personalization, but only 51% would share their personal email addresses.

Personalization isn’t always appreciated. An eMarketer analysis of personalization studies by McKinsey and others concluded consumers balk at the kinds of personalized messages marketers believe they really want. 

“Marketers, especially digital marketers, love data and the promise of optimization it holds,” eMarketer’s Nicole Perrin said. “But … it doesn’t necessarily mean consumers are perceiving those messages as personalized and highly relevant.”

Advanced personalization has a bright future

Despite these cooling views on personalization, there’s other evidence that supports our optimistic view.

Not the same old personalization. Half of the respondents in the McKinsey study said messages about products that relate to their interests were the most appealing personalized content. First-name personalization was among the least appealing.  

This last point dovetails with a finding from The Relevancy Group’s study: Email personalization is least effective when it relies on only first-name or subject-line personalization. 

Personalization based on purchase data was more effective at driving additional revenue, but only the most advanced forms of personalization produced the highest ROIs. (See The Value of Personalization Optimization for Retailers and download your own free copy.) 

Technology is easier to implement. Gartner’s dim view of personalization rests in part on this finding:

“While personalization comprises 14% of the marketing budget, more than one in four marketing leaders cite technology as a major hurdle to personalization.”

The Relevancy Group addresses that problem in its report: 

“Most Advanced Personalization Solutions are rather easy to implement and often do not require significant IT support.”

Don’t forget the gatekeepers

B2B marketers have a compelling reason to get personalization right. Chatbots and automated services will replace human assistants to B2B customers, says Lynda Partner, VP Marketing and Analytics as a Service for Pythian.

“I don’t think we’re going to be talking to all that many people by 2025,” she says. “We’ll instead be talking to their personal assistants, who are bots. These bots will be the new gatekeepers. They’ll decide whether your prospect should read this email from you, or that message from someone else instead. 

This decision may be based on how personalized the message is, or how relevant it is to what they were searching for on the web in the last three weeks, or what they told their bot they were interested in researching. Either way, marketers are going to have to figure out how to market to bots and not just to people.”

Wrapping up

Personalization is enjoying a well-deserved moment in the spotlight, but it’s more than just the word of the year or the trend of the decade. Personalization that carries out business strategies using meaningful data drives revenue and interactions that more than repay the cost of the technology that drives it. 

In 2020 and beyond we look forward to showing marketers the value that advanced personalization produces both for their customers and their marketing programs.

According to new analysis based on groundbreaking research on marketing personalization, email marketers are getting creative about surviving in the Age of Amazon, Whether they go up against the ecommerce behemoth in head-to-head competition or work to gain traction on Amazon’s own platform retailers are finding new ways to compete on the basis of relevance.

These retailers aren’t just using personalization for the sake of personalization, like merging a first name into subject lines or the body copy. 

Instead, today’s shoppers look for a superior experience with a brand on the major touch points, from the website, to email updates to in-store contacts. And, retailers are listening.

Delivering “a more relevant and enriching customer experience” is the No. 1 tactic retailers are using to compete successfully with Amazon, and advanced personalization is one of the tools retailers use to make it happen.

Advanced personalization uses data and automation to add localized and real-time data to regular email messages. This gives campaign emails the immediacy and appeal of transactional messages. They tell your customers that they aren’t just email addresses in a database – you know them as people.

First: 2 Tactics to Steal from Amazon

Personalization is one of the areas where marketers think they can get an edge on Amazon, as our report explains. The ecommerce giant “hasn’t recently shown dramatic advances in personalization, and not in advanced personalization technologies.”

But Amazon does have two email tricks that are worth testing in your own email program:

Personalized customer newsletters. These aren’t Amazon’s usual browse-session follow-up emails. Instead, Amazon sends its Kindle Unlimited users personalized emails designed to encourage them to rent and buy more books and to continue paying for the service. 

The newsletter features in-depth information about authors on the member’s rental, browse and wish lists and suggests other reads – some paid, others that the membership fee covers. Other newsletters, such as those sent to Amazon Prime members, don’t have the same depth of personalized content. 

4 Email Tactics to Contend With Deep-Pocketed Competitors

1. Reassuring package-delivery notice: Do you worry about porch pirates making off with your online orders? Your customers do, too. You can help them  feel more secure by letting them know when their packages are delivered, not just when they leave your warehouse.

This notice from adidas is a follow-up to an earlier shipping notification. It goes out within a few minutes of delivery and includes both package contents and tips on resolving issues, including exchanges and delivery problems.

Bonus tip: Add detail to the subject line: This subject line from Woot! merges the delivered item into the subject line so your customer can see right away what’s in the delivery: “Rejoice! Your Apple 60W MagSafe 2 Power Adapter Has Been Delivered!”

2. Gamified data reports: CVS sends this monthly spending report to members of its loyalty program. But it raises the stakes by turning the report into a game by showing customer progress from one tier to the next. The email also includes an incentive (more Extra Bucks discounts) and suggestions on how to spend them – two moves that encourage shoppers to go back to their store and buy again.

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3. Real-time weather triggered email: Using location data to generate email copy and trigger emails is one way to add relevance and build store traffic. You can add a map to an email or nearest store address to an email. Or, you can use location data to pull weather data and get out ahead of local events.

This email from a movie theater chain took advantage of a major winter storm forecast that affected several cities in its market to promote movie attendance. It sounds like a contradiction, but anybody who lives in snow country will tell you that snow might cancel school, but malls and movie theaters are usually still bustling.   

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4. App-email connection: This ecommerce personalization example looks like your typical abandonment email. But it isn’t.  

Instead of triggering after an abandoned browse session, this email popped into a shopper’s inbox after she scanned a product in-store using her Target mobile app. Although she checked out a cartload of products, the candle she browsed stayed on the shelf. The email beat her home! 

If you want to go for a seamless customer experience, this email can help you bridge the gap between the app and the inbox. Add some context that shows your customers why they’re gettng the email to make an even stronger impression.

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You’ll learn more effective tactics that marketers are using successfully to compete with Amazon in our report, Using Personalization to Win in the Age of Amazon. Download it and share with your team!

If you’ve got it, haunt it, and these brands have it! We compiled some of our favorite RealTime Email Halloween campaigns for you, and they’re scary good.

Check them out … if you dare!

Busch Gardens

Subject: Last Weekend To Face The Frights

Busch Gardens Halloween Email

Busch Gardens sent out this scream-worthy email promoting its various haunted houses. When the recipient clicks on or hovers over the logos, an animated GIF promoting the haunted house plays. This strategy can be a good way for brands to put more content in their email in a way that is a good interactive experience for the recipient. See for yourself…

Busch Gardens Halloween Haunted House

Aerie

Subject: Saves end TODAY! 31% off the Aerie Collection

Lingerie retail company Aerie promoted their Halloween sales event with a ghostly countdown timer encouraging recipients to shop before the promotion on holiday-specific merchandise ends. Once the time expired, an image let openers know the deals were over, but provided a link to shop anyway to deliver a seamless customer experience. Those “witches” will learn to act more quickly next time….boo!

Morrisons

Subject: Inside: A spooktactular offer for loyal customers this Halloween…

Morrisons Halloween

Morrisons created a creepy animated GIF that personalizes to the recipient’s time of open. The email shows “Good Mwahahafternoon” in the afternoon, “Have a fangtastic evening” in the evening, and the “Happy Halloween” image will show at all other times. A great way to make subscribers want to come back to see how it changes!

 

H-E-B

Subject: Don’t Be Scared! Get Your 3-Day Candy Deal

Halloween Forecast

Supermarket chain H-E-B included a real-time local weather forecast in their Halloween promotional email to help customers plan for trick-or-treating. A helpful feature and a great personalized connection point for recipients. I know I’ll be checking back to see how I should dress tonight!

Subject:  Bone-Chilling Coupons: $6 off Halloween Goodies

H-E-B Halloween Full

In another promotional email message, H-E-B embedded live video to entice customers with a delicious dessert recipe. Reports state that adding video to email can boost click rates up to 300%, so it’s a good strategy to engage subscribers. (MarTech Advisor)

 

Interested in seeing more creative holiday campaign ideas? Download our Holiday LookBook for all the inspiration you need.

 

School buses. Football games. Shorter days and changing temperatures. All proof that summer is officially over.

For many marketers, this change of seasons means it’s time to start planning holiday campaigns and related marketing activities (if they haven’t already).

Yet it may be hard to get started. It seems like each year it becomes more challenging to create holiday campaigns that will truly stand out, engage customers and prospects in a meaningful way, and most important, produce results that truly move the needle.

If you’re feeling this way, we have the perfect resource to help you out of your creative rut: our brand new Holiday LookBook.

This valuable resource gives you a detailed look at some of our clients’ successful holiday campaigns. In it, we break down each email sample to analyze the individual tactics that contributed to the campaign’s overall success, including real-time, interactive content based on moment-of-open data and the concept of using email as a profile-building tool.

While we would never promote stealing, especially anything holiday-related, we encourage you to “borrow” some of the ideas in these real-world examples or use them for inspiration for your own holiday campaign.

Avoid the “same old” approach with personalization innovations

The Holiday LookBook also gives many examples of how real-time personalization tools can create advanced experiences customers love. These result in powerful, engaging emails featuring live polls, embedded videos, countdown timers, scratch-and-reveal promotions, maps, and so much more. Like the old saying goes, the only limitation is your imagination.

Get creative!

The book also shows how creative marketers are thinking beyond traditional holidays such as Black Friday and Cyber Monday. You’ll see great ideas related to Thanksgiving, Valentine’s Day, and others.

In one example, Chico’s even made up their own holiday – “United Against Ironing Week.” This great concept let Chico’s bond with customers over the idea that we all work too hard and could benefit from a week off from at least one activity. It also helped the retailer promote a wrinkle-free collection during this fictitious holiday week. Yet by striking a sympathetic tone, the campaign connected with consumers in a way they didn’t expect, leading to better results than a standard email promotion.

Holiday Lookbook Chicos

There are more examples, but we don’t want to ruin the surprise. To see them all yourself—and get a creative spark for planning your own holiday campaigns—download the Holiday LookBook now.

One additional “gift” for you: The Holiday LookBook is an excerpt from Liveclicker’s “Real Examples. Real Impact. A Guide to Real-Time Email Personalization Every Marketer Should Follow.” You can download this complete LookBook here for even more ideas.

Happy holiday planning!

Email marketers: We feel your pain, and we’re here to help.

This time of year can be tough. As if there isn’t enough pressure to constantly create and deploy great campaigns that outperform the competition, the holiday season is just around the corner.

If you’re not careful, it can all become a blur (“Weren’t we just working on Back to School campaigns?”) Also, facing very real constraints related to time, budget, and resources, many marketers may have no choice but to default to “same old, same old” campaign executions, which can fall short on personalization or dynamic content.

Yet in doing so, they’re missing out on real opportunities to engage and connect with their customers and prospects—and, of course, generate better marketing results at the same time. It’s no secret that everyone’s inboxes are overflowing with emails, and it takes something truly spectacular to stand out from the crowd. From welcome emails to customer retention and beyond, we have got some great ideas to get your creative wheels turning. Read on and then check out the LookBook for a deeper dive.

What Customers Will Love in a Welcome Email

Use your welcome series as a chance to get to know each other better. For example, create an interactive poll and ask recipients to share a little bit about themselves, then use that information to personalize future emails. Or provide a quality video that welcomes new customers into the culture of the brand as another great way to engage and connect.

Yet, welcome emails don’t have to be limited to evergreen content. Consumers are bombarded with emails every day, and it’s a big deal that they’re taking the time to open yours. Show your appreciation and build momentum by showcasing new arrivals or offers you think they would love. Make sure you’re always showing the most relevant information for your brand by scraping it right from your website.

lookbook personalization blog

Personalize Your Follow-Ups

The key to keeping customers engaged in your email campaigns is to provide information they find relevant and helpful (and fun!). If they order online, let them track their shipment right from their order confirmation message instead of a third-party site. Include cross-sells or up-sell promotions and make it easy for them to buy related products.

Also, think outside the box and try to extend the value of your campaigns beyond recipients’ past purchase behavior. Help them plan their weekend with a weather forecast–they just might need to buy some rain boots. Any information that would make their lives easier will be valued and appreciated, leading to increased engagement with your future emails!

lookbook personalization blog

Show Them the Way

Get customers excited about their relationship with you. Use loyalty program data – shopping rewards, membership benefits they’ve earned, and points balances – to increase loyalty and motivate them to reach the next reward. Plus, make it easy for them to take the next step: whether it’s to complete a purchase, visit your store, or engage with your brand in other ways, provide them with everything they need to make it happen.

lookbook personalization blog

But that’s not all, folks. If you’re looking for a bunch of good ideas to get inspired and ways to use innovative email personalization to break away from the “same old, same old,” check out our LookBook, “Real Examples. Real Results. A Guide to Real-Time Email Marketing Personalization Every Marketer Should Follow.”

Much of digital marketing is about trying to break through the noise and stand out in the crowd. Content marketing – creating content that consumers want to engage with – is a significant focus in B2C industries, but it doesn’t stop there. Offering valuable content is just as important for B2B marketers, and finding effective ways to grab the attention of potential and current clients can have a big impact on your bottom line.

But just because we know it’s important doesn’t mean we do it effectively. The struggle to connect – really connect – with our audiences is a pain point for many organizations, and customizing the ways we communicate to best fit our brands and the people we’re trying to reach isn’t an easy task.

Liveclicker’s LiveSocial experience – now featuring the ability to add real-time LinkedIn posts, as well as Twitter, Facebook and Instragram, right into your emails – makes sharing the excellent content you’re producing simple, and enables you to amplify your social messages while engaging your audience and connecting with their networks. Now, drawing attention to your brand, spreading your message, and generating quality leads can be as easy as one, two three. Let’s review.

Step One: Create Valuable Content

By now, most companies have realized that content marketing is one of the most effective ways of grabbing prospective clients’ attention. Where marketers fall short, however, is creating content that’s actually valuable to consumers. If we’re all “content marketing,” it takes something special to stand out from the crowd. Many pieces of content are just thinly veiled product marketing campaigns. Taking the selling points of your product and formatting them like a blog isn’t engaging or helpful to the consumer, and it won’t be an effective tool for lead generation.

Consider this: The average customer makes it more than halfway through the buying process – about 70% of the way – without ever contacting a sales representative. Imagine that. Potential customers are doing their due diligence before ever contacting a member of your team. What kinds of information are they going to find? Will it be valuable, engaging, and relevant? Will it have actionable steps they can take to grow their business or skills? Will it position your brand as the expert they need to consult, or your product as the solution to one of their pain points? Showing your company’s value through blogging, social media, or other forms of storytelling is incredibly effective – if there’s also something in it for the consumer.

Step Two: Spread your Message

Producing stellar content is just the first step. Once you create it, how are people going to find it? Research by Google and Millward Brown Digital found that 71% of B2B researchers start their search with generic terms. Therefore, focusing on keywords, SEO, and being the answer to people’s questions is key, along with making your content accessible in more places. Enter social media.

LinkedIn is, without a doubt, the most valuable social network for professionals. According to research from HubSpot, LinkedIn is 277% more effective at lead generation than Facebook and Twitter. LinkedIn users are often high-level decision-makers, with 91% of executives ranking LinkedIn as their go-to for professionally relevant content. Nearly half of all B2B consumers research vendors by looking at their LinkedIn profile. There’s a huge opportunity for companies to leverage the power of LinkedIn to spread their message and generate quality leads.

Step Three: Keep Credibility at the Forefront

For consumers, it’s not just about finding the content. It’s also about trusting the source. That’s where the true power of social media comes in. A study by LinkedIn revealed that 44% of B2B consumers found potential vendors by looking at shared connections on LinkedIn. People are more likely to engage with content shared by someone they trust than with a brand they aren’t familiar with, and more likely to trust the opinions or reviews of a friend than they are the curated message of a brand. Crafting your message and putting it in a place where your biggest fans can easily access and share it allows you to control what’s being said about your brand while taking advantage of the trust those people have gained within their networks.

Step Four: Bring it all Together with RealTime Email

At Liveclicker, this is on the forefront of our minds, and that’s why we’re excited that RealTime Email empowers you to embed a live feed from your LinkedIn profile right in your email marketing messages, making it easier than ever for your recipients to access and share the quality content you’re producing. For prospect newsletters, for example, you’re giving potential clients direct access to your best content, making it easier for you to control the message of your brand and the information they may find about your solutions.

By giving your clients easy access to your up-to-date LinkedIn feed and its social sharing options you’re able to not only strengthen engagement with them, but also leverage their networks. It’s a win-win for everyone involved, and that’s the purpose of content marketing.

If you’d like to learn more about Liveclicker’s LiveSocial experience in email, please let us know!