As posted on Oracle’s Modern Marketing Blog.
A new year means new opportunities for marketers in the retail, ecommerce, CPG, and adjacent spaces. 2019 offers unprecedented potential for brands to connect to customers and improve their bottom lines—if they know where to look.
Last year retail sales made the strongest gains in six years. However, fears of a U.S. recession following a year of healthy consumer spending has retail experts “cautiously optimistic” about 2019. Still, the prospect of a still-healthy economy should translate to a better-than-decent year for many retailers with positive predictions coming in for both online and retail sales.
So, let’s start the year off right.
Even though we don’t yet know exactly what the economy will look like for the 2019 Peak Season, there is still a real opportunity for retail marketers to connect with shoppers and hit their sales goals.
The opportunity for substantial growth is there, but retail marketers can’t expect to capitalize on it using stale approaches that may have worked in the past but don’t compete with cutting-edge brands today. For example, focusing on positive channel-specific experiences rather than a holistic customer experience just isn’t as effective as it once was.
Instead, marketers must embrace innovative new tools and strategies to create compelling new experiences, engage consumers with highly personalized messages, and transform cold prospects into loyal brand advocates. If they can accomplish these goals, retail marketers will truly stand apart from their competition and position their company to achieve the best results possible.
As retail marketing teams come back from the holidays, energized and focused on the year ahead, what can they do to learn more and implement these new marketing strategies?
A new infographic can help. Oracle Marketing Cloud recently partnered with Liveclicker, a leading provider of real-time email personalization solutions, to produce “The Top 10 Tactics for the Retail Marketer.”
To borrow from the old Buick tagline, this is not your grandfather’s infographic. Instead, it’s completely animated to deliver a highly engaging experience that highlights 10 important ideas any retail marketer can and should implement to hit the ground running and gain a new marketing advantage in 2019.
We don’t want to ruin the surprise, but it is worth noting that that the entire infographic focuses on the themes of improving customer engagement and the overall customer experience.
These are objectives we fully support, especially when it comes to retail marketing campaigns. Consumers today are overwhelmed with so many marketing messages, which all usually look and sound the same. They eventually become white noise to consumers, making it challenging for marketing teams to connect with customers in a meaningful way.
Yet like so many other marketing challenges, this situation can become an opportunity. For example, if retail marketing teams can create innovative, engaging email experiences that surprise and delight customers and prospects, they are much more likely to stand out in the crowd of voices and develop an ongoing relationship with the individual consumer.
Interested in learning more about email marketing tactics? View this new infographic now. It’s one of the best ways to start planning for a more successful – and more profitable – 2019.
Prefer a static version of the infographic? You can find it here.
We are excited to let you know that Liveclicker has been acquired by CM Group, a family of leading marketing technology companies. By joining forces with CM Group, we are able to provide our clients with additional product development and service staff while we ramp investments in support systems and people.
There are not many outwardly visible changes. In fact, the Liveclicker acquisition was completed in July of 2018 so our commitment to ‘business as usual’ is already clear. Liveclicker will continue to operate as an independent company under the Liveclicker brand. The people you work with, such as your account manager and product support staff, won’t change. The Liveclicker management team is in place. Our partnerships are continuing without interruption or changes. The core focus and mission of the company remain steadfast.
The real changes have already happened behind the scenes. For example, we have accelerated spending in product development, services, and technical support. We now have a world-class back office to help us scale even faster including new finance, legal, and HR functions. These changes are designed to help Liveclicker grow as we deepen our focus on personalization while maximizing the value of email marketing for our clients.
Liveclicker’s vision is to make email personalization simple and scalable. To bring our vision to as many marketers as possible, we needed to accelerate investments in both products and people. To achieve that goal, the Liveclicker management team explored several options, including raising outside capital and aligning with a strategic partner. Ultimately, we were convinced that CM Group provided the best opportunity to accelerate Liveclicker’s growth so we could bring our vision of the future of email personalization to a much broader community of marketers.
We were intrigued by CM Group from the outset. CM Group operates one of the world’s largest email service providers, Campaign Monitor. Campaign Monitor serves hundreds of thousands of small and medium-sized businesses, a sector Liveclicker hasn’t traditionally focused on – nor is it a sector we plan to focus on moving forward.
We realized that by teaming up with CM Group, we would be able to bring a version of our platform to tens of thousands of marketers that otherwise wouldn’t have access. In short, we saw a highly complementary business that will help us scale much more quickly while Liveclicker continues its push to bring its core offerings upmarket into larger enterprises.
Liveclicker is more focused than ever on meeting the email personalization needs of sophisticated enterprise marketers. The product roadmap has been accelerated and investments in talent are already paying dividends for clients. We look forward to sharing many exciting product and service announcements in the months and years ahead.
Forrester’s recently released Now Tech: Email Marketing Vendors, Q3 2018 report provides an overview of 38 technology vendors in the email marketing space. Such reports are always helpful to email marketers needing to stay on the cusp of innovation; they have been a mainstay in the industry for two decades. Now Tech is an especially good read, and one I’d highly recommend for any digital marketing leader.
But why read this Now Tech report in particular? In the past, reports of this type typically served as a guide for email marketers seeking a new email service provider (ESP). Or in other cases, simply to confirm that a previously chosen ESP remained relevant.
This time, Forrester is offering email marketers something new to consider.
Now Tech is the first formal report written by a leading analyst firm that acknowledges the accelerated pace of innovation in the industry by creating an entirely new class of email marketing vendor: The Email Content Personalizer. I’ll refer to these companies as ECPs.
Just what in the heck is an ECP anyway? Forrester describes these vendors as “… [a category of company that] does not send emails. They use advanced in-email functionality or machine learning to optimize message content, offers, or subject lines in emails delivered through ESPs.”
Companies like Liveclicker fall squarely into this new category. Unlike traditional ESPs, ECPs don’t manage email delivery, deliverability, or sender authentication. Forrester called out a specific Liveclicker example of an ECP at work: “… Liveclicker helped TOMS show off ‘glow- in-the-dark shoes’ to users who flipped a switch in the email and to exact-match email content to website content at the time of email open.”
It’s hugely validating to see a leading industry analyst, Shar VanBoskirk, place her name and Forrester’s analysis behind the creation of this new category. I’d encourage you to check out the report just so you can see exactly where ECPs fit into the ever-evolving martech landscape.
In the meantime, here’s my take on just what exactly an ECP is:
E is for Email. ECPs have a focus and strength on the email channel in particular. While much of the industry’s technological development over the last decade has focused on integrating email into multi-channel marketing programs, ECPs have developed special best-of-breed technology that plug into the email tech stack, helping elevate the performance of email marketing as the channel struggles to remain relevant in an environment of hyper-channel fragmentation and dwindling consumer attention spans.
C is for Content. ECPs use technology to change the content within email messages vs. focusing on the delivery of email itself. They provide sophisticated content management capabilities that allow marketers to apply complex rules or machine-learning systems to render the right content for each email recipient.
P is for Personalization. ECPs like Liveclicker use advanced personalization “hooks” to ingest data from any channel at the time an email is opened, and then render personalized experiences using that data for the consumer. For example, marketers can use open-time device detection to power experiences like in-email video or advanced interactive capabilities like the TOMS example. At the same time, data from a marketer’s website or other martech systems can be accessed in real time to keep email messages as relevant as possible.
I hope you enjoy reading the Forrester Now Tech report as much as I did. It includes an introduction from Liveclicker that highlights many innovative email approaches including email content marketing. It also provides Forrester’s insights into the email marketing vendor selection process as well as a closer look at specific providers who are currently providing content personalization in emails delivered through ESPs.
Let’s face it. Marketers constantly need new technology and powerful tools to cut through the clutter, stay a step ahead of the competition, and generate the best results possible.
Testing is a perfect example of this. Marketers are always looking for advanced testing capabilities, especially because traditional testing methods are usually time-consuming, manual efforts. Worse, testing may not deliver the full intelligence marketers demand, requiring them to make further updates as they attempt to optimize email content.
Yet, what if there was a better way? What if marketers could take advantage of technology to automatically ensure that the best content is displayed for the full life of their campaigns?
The good news is that now they can with a powerful new suite of capabilities in the RealTime Email platform.
These new capabilities, collectively called Adaptive Personalization, remove the obstacles that once made it difficult to make content as relevant as possible. Our Adaptive Personalization tools automate testing, targeting, and optimization processes, enabling marketers to deliver the most relevant messages based on constantly changing variables such as consumer behavior, preferences, context, and more.
The Adaptive Personalization suite includes many new features and capabilities, but one of the most innovative is Adaptive Testing.
With Adaptive Testing, marketers hold back a percentage of subscribers for constant testing (even after an initial winner is chosen). This audience receives content that dynamically changes based on continuous testing results, giving marketers a new way to automate the decision-making process and optimize email content at all times.
Adaptive Testing is extremely intuitive and easy to use. Marketing teams only have to set up the rules once and upload the most relevant content. Not only does this save valuable time and effort, but marketers will rest assured knowing that the winning test will automatically evolve in response to changing customer inputs.
Adaptive Testing provides a number of important benefits:
To understand just how powerful Adaptive Testing can be, consider the case of a theme park using this new capability.
The park sends a marketing email on a Tuesday to attempt to generate interest and drive attendance for the upcoming weekend. A winning CTA is automatically selected via Live A/B testing. In this case, the winning result is a call to action that creates urgency by telling customers they only have two days to take advantage of this offer.
But as the week goes on, Adaptive Testing kicks in. Now, the weather forecasts predicts rain, so the winning call to action automatically updates to show a discount to attend an indoor park, based entirely on email click activity.
Without Adaptive Testing, the park would have been hard pressed to capitalize on changing circumstances in time to influence results. At best, it would have taken extra time, thought, and effort. At worst, they would have missed the opportunity completely.
Here’s how it works. A new toggle called “Continuous Testing” is now available in RealTime Email. This feature is displayed when A/B testing is enabled and when “winner picking” has been toggled to on.
When continuous testing is turned on, a “Holdback Percentage” option also appears. This is the percentage that will be tested after a winner has been selected.
Losing content from the initial A/B test is tested against the winning content over time in the holdback group, until – or if – the losing content begins to beat the previous winner. It is then displayed as the best possible email creative.
With Adaptive Testing, powerful, innovative testing capabilities are now a reality. Adaptive Testing removes traditional barriers while giving marketers an easy way to discover and deliver their best email content. As a result, they can do what they do best: Drive program performance, create lift, and generate positive results.
Ready to gain a new edge in email marketing? Learn more about Adaptive Testing and our new Adaptive Personalization capabilities here.
We all receive a lot of email. Everyone’s inbox is bombarded with messages, and consumers are demanding relevance. Brands that don’t deliver will suffer the consequences.
What does it take to send an engaging, relevant email? How can we avoid fatigue in the inbox? By using real-time data, you can be sure you’re delivering a positive experience. We have a few tips to get you started.
Take advantage of behavioral data
All marketers have behavioral data available to them on their websites. Looking at online interactions, prioritizing them, and using them to drive personalization initiatives is one way to make sure your message is well received.
For example, if you know a subscriber searched for a specific item, and that item is about to sell out or drop in price, send them an email. That message will get attention because they’ve already shown an intent to purchase that particular item. Target your customers based on what they’ve already done, and you’re sure to get better results.
Harness the power of open-time personalization
Many marketers don’t realize that a quarter of emails are opened 24 hours after the message has been deployed, and sometimes even later. It’s important to make sure that the content shown in the email is up-to-date and reflects current sales, prices, inventory, and more. If you’re off by even 24 hours, then your messaging may not be in sync with the offers on your website, and that’s going to create a disappointing experience for customers. Pulling real-time data from other systems to enable the best experiences within an email can make a huge difference, and that’s where open-time personalization steps in.
For example, one tactic that’s proven to drive results for multichannel brands is geo-targeting ‘evergreen content’ within promotional emails. Liveclicker’s LiveMap capability enables brands totarget messages to individuals based on where they open the email, so that the store location closest to them is shown. Additionally, brands can offer specific promotions or even give store directions based on the recipient’s location.
Another experience that’s shown significant success is LiveCalendar. If you have an upcoming sale or event that you don’t want your customers to forget, you can make sure that when the recipient clicks on that link it will open the calendar app according to which email client they’re using. It will be pre-populated with the start- and end-time of your event, along with a completely personalized description. Your event will be added directly to your recipient’s calendar. It’s a great way of extending beyond the inbox to make sure you get that second bump of traffic.
Find a balance
As with most things in life, the key to sending emails that remain relevant is finding a balance. Too many or too few messages can mean getting lost in the inbox. Use behavioral data to inform your email strategy and leverage fresh, dynamic content to manage your frequency without increasing opt-outs.
Finally, if you’re going to offer a discount, should you give it to someone who has shown some level of intent and might just need an additional nudge to make the purchase? Or do you present it to someone who just opens an email once every few months? Focus your discount strategy around your subscribers’ behavior because that’s where you’re going to get the greatest revenue increase. By considering the user experience in everything you do, you’ll find a way to push boundaries, be innovative, and improve brand loyalty.
If you think about it, all email marketers are in the personalization business. Or at least they should be in order to differentiate their products and services and stand apart from the competition – especially in the crowded inbox.
At Liveclicker, we feel strongly that it is our responsibility to help our clients be as creative as possible when personalizing their content. We want them to be able to execute any email personalization tactic – even if the ideas are a bit tricky or require new product capabilities.
Take the case of personalized text design. Most marketers are comfortable using customized text in email marketing messages. While this approach works for many campaigns and executions, it lacks flexibility. This leads to a gap in what could be done and what some marketing teams may want to accomplish.
For example, think of a sporting goods shop that sells uniforms complete with printed names and numbers. This company may want to create emails that show how a name could appear on the back of the jersey. But in the past, personalization marketing could not easily be designed to work with curved images, such as the letters on the back of the jersey in the image below.
It’s bigger than you might think. This straight-text limitation affects more than just your local print shop. Think about:
Ready for the good news? Now there is a way to do more with personalization, utilizing Liveclicker’s LiveRender capability and within LiveImage and LiveReveal. For example, marketers can now add curved text or bouncing letters in an email campaign. They can even take advantage of advanced functionality such as the ability to reveal letters and numbers sequentially with animation.
To stand out, get ahead, and stay ahead, email marketing teams need the very best tools possible. Or to put it another way, without them, marketers resort to the “same old, same old” approaches that everyone else is doing. At best, they could be missing a valuable opportunity to attract new customers; at worst, they could be losing business.
Liveclicker understands this dilemma, and we are committed to giving our clients the very best tools and options to achieve their vision. We hope these new personalization capabilities give them one more advantage in their quest to stand apart from the competition.
In its “Consumer Report 2017, Bots, Text, and Voice: What Cuts through the Clutter” report, Narvar profiles emails, including customer-service messages, sales and specials, loyalty programs, and product recommendations.
These findings represent a perfect opportunity for our clients to use LiveTracker to create highly engaging emails that enable customers to track shipments, while also serving up new promotions, offers, or tailored content.
On one hand, this makes perfect sense. LiveTracker is one of our most engaging RealTime Email capabilities, delivering an average click-through rate of 2.6 percent and an average open duration of 24.8 seconds.
Yet until recently, not all e-commerce clients could take full advantage of LiveTracker, only because they used shipping providers we did not support.
We wanted to do more for our clients and help them capitalize on the opportunity order-tracking emails presented. This led us to develop an integration with Shippo, which lets us support many more package carriers.
For example, with this integration we can support a number of carriers, including Newgistics, Hermes, Canada Post, and Globegistics.
And that’s just the beginning; we will have two levels of carrier support:
The (somewhat obvious) advantage is that the number of supported carriers will continue to grow over time, especially as more and more go through the certification program. Below are some of the carriers included in the program.
The end result? In the not-too-distant future, virtually any e-commerce company (in the U.S. or Europe) will be able to deploy LiveTracker. And not only can they simply use it, but they’ll be able to deliver new content their customers will love.
Interested in learning more or participating in our shipping provider beta program? Contact us today.
It’s hard to believe it’s April already, especially since so much of the U.S. is still stuck in winter-like conditions.
But spring is officially here, which means that longer days and warmer temperatures can’t be far behind. Yet unfortunately for anyone with seasonal allergies, spring usually brings something bad, too: pollen.
For many of us, spring pollen is an inevitability, something we just have to suffer through each year. Yet now, many companies may be able to use pollen levels as a way to create extremely personalized, highly engaging email experiences. In turn, this may help them generate sales that simply weren’t possible before.
At this point, you may be thinking, “You lost me. How could my company possibly use pollen levels to improve our email marketing?” If so, we understand – pollen and marketing may not seem to go hand in hand – so let us explain further.
In the past, many Liveclicker clients were interested in incorporating weather forecasts into their emails. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the examples where a ski resort advertises an upcoming snowstorm and its potential to bring fresh powder or even a golf course promoting a late-season spike in temperatures to get more golfers to play than usual.
This was exactly the thinking that led us to develop our LiveForecast element, which has helped create many similar – and successful – campaigns. But we’ve now expanded the functionality in LiveForecast to include pollen levels in addition to traditional weather forecasts.
Communicating pollen levels can be a powerful tool for companies in a wide variety of industries. Just consider some possible examples:
As you can see, there are many different ways you can use weather and pollen information in email marketing. Plus, if you’re creative, you can use forecasting to drive the desired results in both scenarios (when pollen is high and low).
Offering real-time weather information is another proven way to personalize email campaigns, create more engaging experiences, stand apart from the competition, and generate new sales.
Now, please pass a tissue. I feel a sneeze coming on.
Sooooo close, but no sale.
This is what happens when online shoppers put items in their cart but then abandon them, possibly never to return.
It’s such a frustrating experience for marketing teams who have invested so much time and energy into email campaigns, product descriptions, website design, remarketing tactics, and other digital marketing efforts.
From their experience, it all seemed to work. But like the fisherman who watches as a trophy fish approaches their lure, only to turn away, marketers see consumers walking away without making a purchase.
There is a way to put a positive spin on cart abandonment. For example, marketing teams have a significant opportunity to increases sales and revenues – if they can just find a way to engage shoppers and motivate them to complete the transaction.
New tactics, meaningful results
Yet the question remains: how can marketing teams accomplish this goal?
One way is to create much more relevant emails using moment-of-open data collected from users’ search phrases or their last category view.
For example, a large online travel company could tackle this challenge by creating targeted emails to offer even more options and promotions to those prospects who abandoned a search without completing a transaction.
Here’s how it would work: The company sends follow-up emails that display the first property listing the user viewed, clearly a cart abandonment tactic. In addition, these emails would offer four similar listings, highly targeted options that could be appealing in case the consumer doesn’t opt for the original offer.
Where would these four additional options come from? They create these engaging emails using data collected from each user’s specific search phrases on the company site as well as additional information, such as recent categories browsed.
This information would be updated right at the moment a prospect opens it – not when the email is sent – which makes the content much more relevant, engaging, and effective. This is a significant advantage for any company whose inventory pricing and availability is always changing.
Using moment-of-open data can help marketing teams create highly engaging, highly relevant emails to overcome site abandonment challenges and drive new sales.
To learn more about using search or browse behavior, and how Liveclicker’s RealTime Email solutions are helping today’s brands achieve better business results, please visit www.liveclicker.com.
Since Google’s announcement that AMP would be extended to Gmail, the initiative has attracted a large amount of press coverage reaching well beyond the confines of the insular email marketing industry. There’s likely nary a digital marketing exec that hasn’t already read Devin Coldeway’s TechCrunch article widely criticizing the idea, for example. Industry reaction has been mostly negative to mixed, while others simply feel it’s too early to pass judgement.
Because AMP for Gmail has already been covered in depth elsewhere, I’m not going to bother explaining what AMP is or how it works here. If you’re looking for more of a tech deep dive, Litmus’ Bettina Specht delivered a fabulous overview about a month ago that should satisfy any developer or email designer looking for tech deets. Brightwave also posted an excellent high-level message for marketers that’s a good read for anyone seeking more of a primer.
Liveclicker and AMP for Gmail
So what does Liveclicker think about AMP for Gmail? We are, after all, an industry technology pioneer with a mission to enable advanced personalized experiences for email marketers. A huge promise of AMP is that it can bring more interactive experiences to email. As a result, we are very interested in AMP. We consider AMP to be a significant innovation in the industry. We also believe that if AMP succeeds, it will be a big win for marketers, regardless of how it’s perceived in the wider world. Email marketers live in a world of crowded inboxes, shrinking consumer attention spans, and mailbox providers that make it harder to reach the inbox. Any technique or technology a marketer can use to make his organization’s messages stand out from the crowd will very rightly merit attention.
“A huge promise of AMP is that it can bring more interactive experiences to email.”
At Liveclicker, we are committed to embracing new technologies, then providing access to them through products that speed an email marketer’s time to market while driving deeper personalization in the channel. As a personalization company at the core, we look at AMP through this lens. We are interested in ways we can utilize AMP to deliver products that will allow marketers to provide more personalized, engaging experiences for their own customers.
It’s early days with AMP for Gmail. There are many hurdles standing in the way of success all email marketers should take note of. Among them:
• AMP will require coding a separate version of an email message, specifically for Gmail recipients, as noted in the Litmus article. The vast majority of email marketers operate production teams and operations that are likely unable to absorb the load of coding additional email versions. In fact, this hurdle is a significant reason companies like Liveclicker and our competitors have achieved success. We provide technology that automatically adapts to each recipient’s environment, making it possible for marketers to achieve personalization at scale without manually segmenting lists. It’s also worth mentioning that it’s already possible to achieve limited interactivity in the inbox without coding a separate version of an email, as Brightwave noted.
• AMP has not been widely tested across mail clients. While it’s known AMP is Gmail-specific and delivered via a separate MIME-type, not all non-supporting mail clients may ‘gracefully fail’ to display the non-AMP version of the email. Right now, it’s not even known if AMP will function seamlessly across Gmail’s own mail clients and services (apps, mobile, web). At minimum, this promises to introduce another headache for email marketers, if not worse.
• Without additional mailbox providers joining the AMP bandwagon, the benefit to marketers is quite limited. The fragmentation of mail clients and mailbox providers is a significant issue plaguing email developers that web developers simply don’t have to deal with at a comparable level. Plus, the largest B2C marketers rarely have more than 40% of the total database using Gmail, of which only about half of the openers use Gmail products to render the final messages. In fact, at Liveclicker we see nearly 50% of all Gmail opens occurring in non-Gmail clients such as the iOS native mail client, Android native mail client, Apple Mail, or Outlook.
In summary, we believe AMP is an important development in the email industry. We are interested in this technology, but are exploring it through the lens of personalization and speeding time to market for marketers. Despite the promise of AMP for Gmail, the technology faces a tough road ahead because industry adoption is limited and the technical changes required by senders to embrace it are not minimal. We are excited to continue experimenting with Gmail AMP emails and will update our clients and readers as things progress.