Retail marketers have their work cut out for them as we quickly approach a holiday shopping season that remains full of question marks. Advanced personalization that uses dynamic content and moment-of-open technology will be even more essential in this challenging year to bring value to email campaigns and help marketers keep up in an uncertain, constantly-changing retail environment.
It’s never too early to start planning, especially this year when marketers will pull every available lever to drive traffic, sales and revenue without relying on deep discounts or margin-eating incentives.
Research from the National Retail Federation shows nearly 1 in 4 consumers say they start shopping in October or earlier. This year, you need to get ahead of these early birds to serve their needs and wants and retool campaigns quickly if conditions change.
Need some help to get started on your strategic holiday plan? Find it in the Liveclicker 2020 Holiday Lookbook, packed full of tips and tactics for sending emails that will get your customers excited about shopping this holiday season.
U.S. retail sales, including holiday, will fall 14% in 2020, eMarketer predicts, while ecommerce should rise 18%, bolstered by shoppers who discovered the convenience of curbside/home delivery and in-store pickup.
No matter what happens, retailers are in a stronger position today than they were in the early weeks of the pandemic. They have learned how to survive shutdowns and manage around product shortages and day-to-day changes.
With the holidays looming, marketers can put that knowledge to work by using dynamic content and moment of open technology to create high-value email campaigns that roll with uncertainties and get customers excited about shopping again.
Different parts of the country will be at different stages of recovery this year, from full reopening to partial or total shutdown. Your email campaigns must reflect these variations, especially if your company relies on physical stores for sales and customer service.
One email, many variations: Save time, money and resources by replacing all of your regional email campaigns with a single email template that includes dynamic content modules. These let you blend standard content for all shoppers with content that’s right for different regions.
A map of your nearby locations can update automatically based on where your customers open the email. Copy can list regional store hours or shopping policies. No worries about sending customers to closed stores or posting inaccurate information!
Many consumers are adamant that they won’t join the usual holiday throngs this year. Show shoppers you care about their health and safety by offering click-and-collect or “buy online, pick up in store” services that let them shop but stay socially distant.
Create a fun animation or short video that walks new users through the steps so they understand how the process works and gives them confidence to use the service, like this example from Tractor Supply Company.
Then, add it to a special promotional campaign or to purchase-confirmation emails if they choose the service at checkout.
Remember to add location data and dynamic content to the mix! With these you can target the locations where you offer the service and swap in substitute content for emails opened in regions where you don’t offer it yet.
Whether your online shoppers choose regular delivery or click-and-collect from a local store, keep them updated (and off your customer-service lines) with shipping updates that track delivery dates and times.
Add this content to a dynamic module in your regular or triggered emails, or send a stand-alone email they can refer to whenever they want an update.
Your copy of the Liveclicker 2020 Holiday Lookbook is as close as a click. It’s free and filled with great tips to help you leverage the power of dynamic content and moment of open technology for more relevant and engaging email. Learn more about these cool tools, too:
Congratulations to Sandra Cordero, CRM manager for women’s apparel retailer Torrid, the 2020 winner of the Email Experience Council’s 2020 Stefan Pollard Award. Sandra is a good friend to Liveclicker, and her work and leadership are well-deserving of this honor.
The Pollard Award is the most prestigious award in the email industry. What makes it unique among industry awards is that the email marketers who win it not only have to develop innovative campaigns but must also show that their strategies and tactics drive real results for their companies.
That’s what Sandra was able to do with Torrid since she joined the women’s apparel retailer in 2016. Working closely with her team and Liveclicker, Sandra has proved again and again how innovation in email can drive revenue and performance for her company.
Her initiatives have contributed to a 44% increase in redemption rate and a 44% increase in revenue from digitizing Torrid’s omnichannel bounceback program. The email program itself has seen a 119% increase in total program revenue over that time, representing consistent double-digit growth year over year.
“Working with Sandra and her team has been a reward in itself. She has an eye toward innovation and improvement that leaves no stone unturned. She’s so deserving of this award, and Torrid has the email performance to prove it,” Brooke Schommer, Account Development Manager who has worked closely with Sandra, says.
Sandra isn’t the only Liveclicker client whose work was recognized this year by the EEC. Faith Bukauskus of Hot Topic was an award finalist as well.
“Faith exhibits a fantastic can-do spirit that brings success to every project she touches, and has driven so much success for Hot Topic with her email programs,” Brooke says.
As a strong supporter of email for more than three years, Faith has driven double-digit returns in annual growth for the last two years. She reinvigorated Hot Topic’s email initiatives program and re-engineered the Black Friday plan, which included sending more activity-based personalized messages earlier in the season to warm up clients.
If you follow our blog or read our case studies and white papers, you’ve seen the innovative ways both Torrid and Hot Topic have used advanced personalization and moment of open technology to make their emails more engaging, useful and compelling for their customers.
One of Sandra’s big successes was a total makeover of Torrid’s loyalty program that included developing a monthly rewards statement with personalized content based on behavior and rewards for members at each tier of the program. Customers love the email – it generates over-the-top opens and clicks – and have come to rely on it to track their status in the loyalty program.
Hot Topic was able to use dynamic content to solve a perennial problem – email recipients who click through on a tempting offer, only to find the product sold out or the promotion had expired. The brand now uses dynamic images and moment of open technology to substitute new images or offers if the original ones are no longer available.
Stefan’s friends and co-workers remember him as a tireless supporter of email innovations that produce better experiences for customers and stronger results for brands, as well as email education to improve the entire practice of email marketing.
We think he would be proud of Sandra and Faith and how they have adopted new uses of technology to create better experiences for their customers and their brands.
Use these tips to keep revenue flowing when your venues are closed.
Many entertainment centers have gone dark for now, with many venues canceling everything from individual performance to entire seasons, thanks in large part due to uncertainty about reopening dates.
But even as buildings stay shuttered, enterprising venues can stay connected with fans through regular emails that keep fans in the know about canceled or rescheduled events.
In fact, attendees are looking to email more than ever these days to stay informed, according to a new poll from Twilio. It found 67% of consumers favor email to learn about changes and updates from the brands they value the most, and 52.9% want to get critical updates about closings and how to stay engaged during shutdowns.
For entertainment venues and other companies invested in live entertainment, the challenge is keeping ticket-holders and event attendees virtually close even if they can’t be there physically. It’s important to acknowledge the disappointment of ticket-holders and to keep them informed about reschedulings, refunds and other important issues.
A venue that’s lucky enough to be able to remain open still has work to do, especially in showing attendees how it’s keeping them safe. Here’s how email can help:
1. Going digital. Highlight events that are being livestreamed, like concerts or stage performances. Embed video in your emails to promote the streams or upcoming performances, and add a countdown timer to build anticipation.
2. Look back and ahead. Use loyalty members’ past purchase or attendance history to populate email content. Add video of performances (if contracts permit) or recap the shows they attended. Then, create offers to bring them back when you reopen, such as first crack at premium tickets, advancement to a higher loyalty tier or discounts on season passes.
3. Keep emails updated, even after you send. Things can change quickly when your venue runs on live events. The pressure to keep information current is higher than ever. But you’ll gain the gift of the “takeback” when you use dynamic email content capable of being edited even after you hit “send.” As soon as you learn a concert is canceled or rescheduled, or a venue closes or reopens, you can change out the editable content with your new message, which will refresh as soon as your recipients will see as soon as they open your email.
4. Use live polls to keep the audience engaged: Ask your audience a poll question in each email. What was their favorite concert? Which performer would they want to see next, what other kinds of live events would they want to see? Or find out what they’re doing while your venue is closed or how they’re getting by.
When you use a live poll, voters can see how they compare with everyone else. Bonus: Their answers can also give you great fodder for future events or ways to improve the experience.
5. Add a playlist. The action might have moved off the stage or the arena floor, but you can help recreate the experience with a Spotify playlist that you embed in the email so your subscribers can play it without leaving your message or having to open an app. Pull music, theme songs or podcasts that feature past events or represent events that you had to postpone or cancel.
Nothing can ever replace the magic and intensity of a live performance, in-person event or game, but email messaging that uses advanced personalization and real-time content can keep attendees warmed up and ready to return as soon as your doors are open.
Enterprise retailers with major investments in brick-and-mortar locations are on the front lines of change in today’s economy.
In a time of dramatic disruption, many are turning to their digital operations to help them keep revenue flowing and the light at the end of the tunnel as bright as possible. Locations that remain open have their own set of challenges: balancing store traffic with managing employee and customer health and safety, and dealing with supply-chain disruptions.
As a marketer, you’re probably fielding many questions about how to make your digital channels even more effective and working overtime trying to find ways to increase your company’s bottom line while maintaining an excellent customer experience with your brand.
One answer – maybe not surprisingly – is email. The reliable workhorse that consumers prefer over other digital channels for brand communications in good times is emerging as the go-to connector in turbulent times for shoppers whose favorite stores are closed for the duration.
Updated data from BounceX show email open and conversion rates soared by early April this year – open rates were up 25% and conversions topped 40%.
However, business-as-usual emails won’t help retailers make up the revenue gap or connect with unsettled or stressed customers.
Advanced personalization and real-time communications will help you solve problems now and set the stage for even better performance after the lights come on and doors open later, as you can see with these five email marketing tactics for retail stores:
1. Press “send” confidently even as conditions change. One of the biggest challenges retailers face in this uncertain economy is how quickly things change, whether it’s a product that suddenly goes out of stock, locations that open or close, or offers and messages that become outdated or inappropriate in a new context.
That means the email you send in the morning could well be out of date by the time your customer reads it even just a few hours later. It’s enough to make any email marketer anxious when it comes time to deploy their campaigns.
Gain the gift of the “take-back” with modules of editable email content you can change even after you send your campaign, using technology that lets you switch in up-to-date content based on when or where your recipient opens your email. You’ll send with confidence, knowing your audience is getting the right information whenever they open.
2. Offer real-time product recommendations: Products can fly off the shelves fast in turbulent times, and supply-chain uncertainty means shipments might not come in as regularly as before. This creates a bad customer experience even in good times. In bad times, it can quickly turn customers against your brand and even drive them to your competition.
Using real-time recommendations based on inventory levels will help you avoid promoting unavailable products online or in-store. Your messages can use adaptive product recommendations that change based on real-time inventory data.
3. Engage your loyalty-program members. Keep your VIPs and other high-value customers warmed up and ready to convert with personalized messages that build on their purchase or membership history or reveal their tier status and the benefits they’ll get when they move to a higher level. Give them advance notice of store specials or changes in hours or locations, and let them be the first to know when your doors will be open again.
4. Update triggered and transactional emails. Add value for the customers who do buy from you by including personalized recommendations, product advice or coupons based on browse or purchase history, predictive or “next logical product” models. If they’ve made an order online, include a real-time shipping tracker so they can keep an eye on their package as it’s being prepared and sent (bonus points: this can also relieve stress on your customer service center from customers calling in to ask where their order is!).
You might do this already for order-confirmation or cart abandonment emails, but look at the possibilities for including personalized or “moment of open” content in welcome emails or account-registration emails to accommodate any influx of new customers finding you online when they can’t access their preferred brands.
5. Add “tap to text” to expand email reach. Although homebound workers and students on desktops are driving up email open, click and conversion rates, their phones keep them connected to family and friends. “Tap to text” lets you reach these customers quickly with late-breaking news, updates and offers. An in-email call to action automatically populates a text when viewed on mobile or provides easy instructions to customers checking their email on desktops or other devices.
Advanced personalization and real-time messaging will help you stay connected with your customers now as we all weather the storm together. But once the world begins to recover, your email program will emerge even stronger, positioned to respond to and even anticipate your customers’ needs and wants and making your messages even more valuable to your customers.
Get even more actionable advice and tips for accelerating your retail recovery in this ebook made just for retail marketers helping their brands recover from the global crisis. Download Personalizing Your Customer Journey As Retail Returns today!
More than ever today, at-home entertainment providers are helping people connect with work, family and friends for information, education and distraction. Customers are responding by heading online in record numbers.
Preliminary figures show internet usage has risen 50% to 70%. Video streaming and game downloads are posting massive increases as people seek diversions at home. Brands in these verticals are faced with challenges of scaling up quickly across the organization, especially in areas of communications, marketing, and customer support.
Even during normal times, companies increasingly see the value in being able to pivot quickly to keep their messaging up to date and accurate. In these times, that “should” has become a must because it will help customers manage new and ever-changing day-to-day realities.
Companies who will success in this pressure-cooker environment will be those who can meet these challenges:
These new demands on messaging can strain the resources of marketing teams that are already stretched to their limits. Technology that allows the team to edit and adapt messaging content on the fly will boost productivity as well as increase message value for recipients.
1. Gain the gift of the “takeback.” This allows you to edit or switch out content even after you press “send.” This is important for digital content providers like streaming services because so much can change from day to day or even from the start of the end of the business day now.
An entertainment channel or movie, TV show or virtual game that looked like a sure hit in January when you created your promotional plan could be outdated or inappropriate now. Or, your company has to respond in real time to an aggressive promotion from a major competitor.
No matter the reason, you don’t have to worry about canceling email promotions in your send queue. Using real-time technology, you can change out the editable content with the new message as needed.
2. Scale up for increased demand. Each of your customers has unique interests in program and content choices. Your email messages should reflect that so you can send messages read like 1-to-1 communications.
Use dynamic content blocks and adaptive images to create nearly endless versions of a single message template. You can mix in your regular promotions with content that appeals to customers whose tastes you know and include how-to info and content suggestions for new customers without having to create side-by-side messaging strategies.
3. Add a real-time news or schedule feed. Adding this real-time, automatically updating content in your emails shows customers what’s playing on your channels at the moment they open your emails. Plus, it gives them a heads-up on what’s playing next. Then, adding a “Play” button can help desktop viewers jump right into the content they want.
4. Embed video right into your emails: Make your content even more compelling by adding trailers, teasers, highlights, even short pieces right into your emails. Besides showing customers what they’re missing, you can also help parents and other video watchdogs check out content in advance to be sure it’s appropriate to watch.
In the past, video in email could be frustrating because many browsers or email clients didn’t support it. However, today’s technology can serve up the right version automatically to give your viewers the best experience.
5. Expand your reach with “tap to text.” Email is fast, but sometimes SMS is the right choice when you need to send last-minute program updates, reminders and late-breaking offers. “tap to text” makes the process effortless with an in-email call to action that automatically populates a text when viewed on mobile or provides easy instructions to customers checking their email on desktops or other devices.
Industry trend-watchers are suggesting that the changes happening rapidly in online and in-home entertainment will alter how consumers access video, gaming, music and live content long after conditions return to normal.
Retool your email communications to meet your customers’ short-term needs now, and then revisit them later to keep your brand a welcome guest in their homes for the long term.
One of the most amazing pivots we’ve seen in recent weeks has been the lightning-speed turnaround in how people approach getting their food. Whether it’s from a box of groceries on the front porch or a bag from a local restaurant’s pick-up window, behavior is shifting quickly – and marketers need to adapt to keep up.
This rapid change means companies – especially those doing the crucial work of providing groceries – must scale up their customer communications at the same warp speed to keep their audience informed and supported.
Online grocery services have experienced rapid growth recently. Internet Retailer’s RetailX consumer confidence index found on March 11 that 14.2% of UK shoppers were buying more groceries online.
By March 25, that percentage had jumped to 25.8%, and shoppers using services like Waitrose and Ocado found themselves in virtual queues behind thousands of other shoppers as delivery times filled up.
Similar problems have cropped up in the United States for online grocers and delivery services facing surges in demand. An Axios survey found 41% of consumers report shopping more for groceries online. Brands find themselves balancing the difficult pressures of providing essential services while scaling up capacity in a manner that keeps their customers and employees safe.
This scramble to reinvent logistics services in order to keep customers stocked with their essentials doesn’t stop at the warehouse door. More than ever, companies need to communicate effectively with their customers as demand spikes or conditions change daily or even hourly.
Successful brands use communications strategies and technologies that they can scale up quickly, using sophisticated tactics like:
Cut the workload, increase personalization (essential for location-heavy services like groceries and takeout) and build loyalty with these email marketing strategies for online grocery businesses that make it easier to put your customers’ needs and concerns first:
1. Real-time product recommendations: High-demand products can fly off shelves in minutes. Using live inventory data lets you swap an out-of-stock item with an in-stock replacement on the fly (who expected yeast to sell out?) even after you send your email.
Real-time inventory integration updates message content based on when your customers open your messages. So, your email stays as fresh as today’s baked bread and reduces frustration for online and in-store customers alike.
2. Live delivery tracking: Here’s another great way that email can reduce uncertainty. Just by looking at the real-time tracker in their email messages, your customers can tell when their orders are being prepared, in transit or delivered. This is a great way to reduce strain on your call center and support team from customers wondering where their orders are.
3. One template, many versions: A campaign that resonates in a big city on lockdown might not apply to a rural community where shoppers may have different circumstances.
Use adaptive images, localization data and dynamic content to create nearly endless versions of a single message template with minimal effort. Instead of creating dozens of messages, you just add modules that change according to your automation rules.
Because the content changes based on where customers open your messages, you don’t have to worry about targeting segments with the wrong content.
4. Embed a social feed: As fast and flexible as email is, sometimes it’s easier to get the word out on crucial updates and changes by posting on your social media. These days, many people turn to social channels first to engage with brands for updates and questions.
When you embed a live feed of your social channels in your emails, you’ll make sure your customers always see the latest info. A properly embedded feed refreshes the moment your customer opens the message. So, you’ll know your emails will always feature the most up-to-date information, even after you send them.
No one knows how long the current emergency will last or how we will recover. Focusing your email program now to put your customers and their concerns first, shows them you stand by your commitment to them and gives them even more reason to trust your brand and products when the storm has passed. Get more insights and inspiring examples in this ebook for grocery marketers: Digital In Fast Forward: Email Personalization Best Practices for Grocery Retailers.
Personalization: Is it an accepted best practice or just another distraction that’s wasting our time? Like many other aspects of email marketing, there’s a lot of speculation and misunderstanding surrounding the practice of making customer experiences more relevant and individualized.
The evidence is clear that personalized emails outperform “one size fits all” messages on just about every metric you can name. Still, a few dangerous myths refuse to go away at a time when making messages more relevant, empathetic, and valuable is especially important.
Have you heard any of the objections below from your fellow team members, your boss, your mom or your friends but didn’t know how to rebut them? Time to start fact checking!
This idea has been gaining traction lately, with some reports noting that traditional personalization tactics are falling out of favor or not delivering the results they used to.
In reality, research supporting personalization’s power to drive more user activity is among the oldest and most trusted in the email industry.
Before 2005, marketers knew only anecdotally that personalized emails outperformed broadcast messages. Then, a pioneering study by David Daniels and Jupiter Research found emails with content based on clickstream activity drove higher opens, clicks and conversions and produced 9 times the revenue of broadcast email.
And that was back in the days when many marketers had even less data to work with than they do today and fewer ways to analyze it quickly. (More of David’s research on the value of personalization later in this post.)
It may be true that some of email marketers’ basic personalization tools are losing effectiveness. A customized [FIRSTNAME] token in the subject line just doesn’t deliver the punch it used to. Customers’ standards for relevance and value from brands has risen dramatically, and not all of us have kept up.
But there’s still plenty of innovation happening in marketing personalization, and more sophisticated tactics can deliver tremendously better results. In fact, brands utilizing advanced personalization can see 17% more revenue than those still stuck on the basics.
You’ve probably had seeing an uncannily accurate ad online or received an eerily timely message from a company you weren’t expecting to hear from.
Yes, people can get (understandably) unnerved when they see messages personalized with data that they didn’t expect a brand to have, or if they don’t trust how the brand will use their data.
Still, shoppers of all ages (and especially younger shoppers) prefer personalized experiences. They’ll share select information if they see how it benefits them and can trust you to manage it properly. They’ll shun brands that don’t get it right. That’s part of why it’s so important to acquire and treat data in an ethical, respectful manner.
What isn’t creepy is personalized data that’s linked to an email’s purpose with a clear benefit to the customer, such as location data to provide a map showing a store’s nearest location or “moment of open” to update an offer. Be clear with subscribers about what they’re signing up for, give them relevant and valuable marketing, and be transparent about what data you’re tracking and you’ll be rewarded.
Nope. With as little as one data point – like when a subscriber joined your list – can power everything from a welcome email to a customer poll to a reactivation campaign. Or you can pull real-time data from the email client and act on that – information like device, location, and time of day. See this post for more ideas on personalizing even when you don’t have customer data.
The more data you have, the more you can personalize, but only up to a point. Data gets old fast, and it’s not foolproof.
Laws like the European Union’s GDPR, Canada’s Anti-Spam Law and the California Consumer Privacy Act can even restrict you from using third-party data without consent. That makes first-party and real-time data even more effective.
Even purchase data, which drives much of today’s email personalization, can lead you down the wrong path if you can’t distinguish between gift and personal purchases.
That brings us back to David Daniels, now CEO and founder of the research firm The Relevancy Group. In 2019, his firm’s research showed personalization based on contextual and real-time data generated an additional $20 of revenue for every $1 spent on technology to mine and incorporate that data.
This is data such as real-time data generated from moment of open (device used, location, time, etc.), rules-based personalization, live inventory and clickstream activity.
We won’t try to kid you. Setting an effective personalization process is a little more complicated than just putting together another broadcast campaign. You have to identify the data you need, figure out how to capture it, set up rules on using it and create email messages to put it to use.
It’s also true that even bad email can make money. But, as the Relevancy Group’s results show, good email makes lots more.
Today’s cloud technology means the days of crossing your fingers and hoping everything works are long over. It’s very possible to streamline personalization and make it more accessible and easy. In fact, some personalization technology can dramatically improve your workflow efficiency overall.
Look for a personalization platform that has done much of the advance work for you and doesn’t need hours of IT work to integrate with your database and email sending platform.
Still a little skeptical? Check out our white paper, Overcoming Challenges to Advanced Personalization. IT goes in depth to address the major issues that stand between a marketer and an effective personalization plan.
Also, keep an eye on our blog, where we report frequently on client successes using real-time tactics like live offer updates, countdown clocks, live feeds for social posts and customer-generated content, or even a live weather forecast.
Marketers can divide email metrics into two general categories:
1. Activity metrics: These measure subscriber activity on your emails, including number of emails delivered, opens, clicks to a landing page, unsubscribes, bounces and spam complaints.
2. Objective metrics: These measure whether your campaign achieved its goal: total number of conversions, total revenue, revenue per email, revenue per subscriber, average order value, number of leads converted to buyers, and many more.
You need both sets of metrics to measure your email program performance accurately, but some are more important than others. That’s what makes them key performance indicators, or KPIs.
Those KPIs are what you get judged and rewarded on, so you need to use everything in your toolbox to improve your numbers. Real-time personalization can help you make measurable progress, and not just because it has a big “Wow!” factor.
Real-time personalization is a tactic you can use strategically to drive business. It can take your customers over many of the hurdles between your email and “add to cart” on your landing page.
Below, we identified three essential KPIs for a successful retail email program and how real-time personalization can help you increase each metric.
This baseline activity metric shows what percentage of your subscribers clicked on a link in your email. It’s a standard engagement measure and one to track over time to watch for trends.
How to increase it: Add a real-time poll that asks customers to answer a question relating to your brand, products, their preferences or even some fun, offbeat current event, and then displays the results right away so they can see how they compare to other shoppers.
Why it works: Who can resist a fun poll question? It’s a low-commitment way to get a click without resorting to clickbait. Plus, the click can take customers to a landing page with product recommendations that match your customer’s interests.
Bonus: You can use your customers’ answers to guide future targeting or campaign planning. Win-win!
This metric gauges the amount of revenue earned per email delivered. You can use many means to increase RPE, such as persuading more prospects to start buying, nudging your occasional buyers to shop more often or induce your regular shoppers to spend more each time they buy.
How to increase it: Add dynamic product recommendations based on items that match customer preferences or previous purchases in current inventory and which refresh every time the subscriber opens the email.
Why it works: Selling more products at full price is one of the best ways to boost RPE. It’s also a huge challenge, given many consumers have become conditioned to think of email as the bargain-basement channel.
Suggesting available items (no sold-out disappoints to discourage a sale) that are closely personalized to customers’ preferences and behavior can help customers discover things they wouldn’t necessarily have found on the sale racks.
This objective metric measures the proportion of first-time purchasers. It’s usually reported as percentage of the total number of buyers in the campaign.
How to increase it: Embed a live video to your promotional email to provide information that can help move your browser closer to a purchase.
Why it works: People love video. Advances in technology and improved email client compatibility have made live video a more reliable email experience.
What about the open rate?
Many marketers will notice a conspicuous absence from this list of core KPIs. The open rate is most useful when you track it over time to see if it’s going up or down. As a barometer of subscriber engagement, the open rate is pretty good. As a core metric for campaign goals? Not so much, unless the sole objective for your campaign is to get an open.
Plus, the open rate metric doesn’t really tell you what you want to know. It’s not a reliable metric because image-blocking can undercount opens. Also, the open rate measures only email activity, not revenue-based campaign goals.
The beauty of email marketing is that you can measure just about anything and use what you learn to improve your email program. And, the beauty of real-time personalization is that it can improve almost every KPI you have.
What are your KPIs, and how could real-time personalization help you meet your goals in 2020?
“Workflow efficiency” is one of marketing’s hottest topics these days, as growing pressure mounts on the marketing department to deliver more results without a corresponding increase in resources. Email marketing is one of the ripest areas for process optimization, with ample opportunity to improve productivity and results without relying on new headcount or getting stuck at organizational bottlenecks.
A Litmus survey in 2019 produced some surprising statistics about the email marketing workflows that teams use to get email campaigns out the door:
With the right tools and strategy, email teams can drastically reduce the amount of time and effort needed to get their campaigns out the door.
That would be “Fear of the Send Button.” You know, that queasy feeling you get when you’re about to hit “Send” on a campaign—especially a complex one involving many interchangeable parts—and thinking about all the things that could go wrong.
Dynamic content, especially content that updates on its own automatically based on “moment of open,” allows you to send the most up-to-date and accurate emails.
Your customers are happier with relevant personalized emails, and your team spends less time getting campaigns out the door and more time on planning, analyzing and innovating.
Automated messaging can take some of the time and headaches out of campaign creation and deployment. But dynamic content helps close the loop to create an even better customer experience with email, as you can see below:
Sometimes days or even weeks pass before a subscriber will open your message. In the meantime; inventory can sell out, offers can expire, or other conditions might change.
You could send a follow-up email (that you have to create, code, test and get approved) with updated information.
Or, you can simply use a dynamic content element to swap in the updated message – even after it’s already been sent! That’s a huge reduction in time and resources needed to keep your customers up-to-date.
An event like a store opening or closing is most meaningful to the people who live in the store’s market area. So instead of creating a fresh message for every event, use a single message template and incorporate a real-time element like location.
The images below show how clothing retailer Torrid uses adaptive images to create excitement leading up to and on the day before a store opening. Check out the before and after below. Added bonuses: a live map, an add-to-calendar function that sends a personalized reminder and an invitation to RSVP on Facebook give customers more possibilities to participate.
Updating your message templates fresh takes time and energy. Maybe that’s why only 39% of marketers review their automated templates every few months instead of waiting a year or longer, according to Litmus. But templates age out quickly these days; it doesn’t take long to look or sound out-of-date.
Live content feeds can pull fresh content from your website, social media accounts and other content sources into designated modules in your message templates. You could adjust them to always show your current featured products, your brand’s latest Instagram posts, or the hottest trending articles on your site right now. That means you can spend less time going back and managing/updating your triggered campaigns and templates!
People who don’t open your email right away might be disappointed if they click to the website, only to find the item is sold out or the price changed.
Nobody can afford unhappy customers these days. So, use dynamic content linked to your inventory to replace the original message with a note about the current status and a replacement offer.
Hot Topic implemented this tactic in their email strategy and saw customer complaints drop virtually to zero. Learn more about how they did it here.
Loyalty programs are fertile ground for this. Your VIPs need to feel wanted and special. You can make that happen by showing members in each tier of your program where they’re at, what benefits they can claim now and what’s possible at higher levels.
You can guess where we’re going with this. You could create multiple versions of a loyalty email, or you could use a single template that automatically inserts the appropriate content to subscribers according to their tier levels.
That’s what Torrid did when it was updating its popular Torrid Rewards program.
Using multiple automatically personalized elements on like dynamic images and adaptive individualization based on account status, Torrid sends each VIP member a monthly statement summarizing their activity, reminding them to spend their Rewards cash and letting them know when their tier credits expire. Urgency + transparency = winners all around.
Dynamic messaging based on real-time content gives your subscribers the relevant personalized messaging that drives action while helping you redefine and streamline your messaging workflow.
You can produce more beautiful, more relevant content in less time and with less reliance on IT and developer resources. If you’re looking for a real win-win, check out our RealTime Personalization solution!
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:
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.
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!
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:
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:
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.