Perfecting the messaging for customers who take advantage of curbside pickup or buy online, pick up in-store (BOPIS) is a must for any retailer. For one, click and collect shopping options were already growing in popularity, naturally accelerated by the pandemic. This year, 31% of consumers have used BOPIS or curbside pickup, according to a survey of 5,000 we conducted alongside our sister brand Sailthru. More than that, these communications provide the perfect opportunity to create a more personalized customer experience.

True, personalization is always important. It delivers strong ROI and people even prefer it, with 79% of consumers more likely to pledge loyalty to a brand that provides personalized experiences.

Personalization is especially important for BOPIS and curbside pickup customers because these shopping options are a personalized experience in and of themselves, allowing people to have a say in how they receive their purchases. At the same time, personalization makes the pickup process more frictionless, which many consider to be the most important aspect of the experience. Rakuten Ready even found that people whose curbside pickup orders are ready in less than two minutes are four times more likely to become repeat customers. With these three tips, take your pickup personalization to the next level:

1. Put BOPIS and Curbside Pickup in Your Triggered Messages

Like click and collect, triggered messages are inherently personalized as direct responses to specific customer actions. Because BOPIS and curbside pickup have never been more popular, they should be incorporated into every triggered message.

Work click and collect into your welcome series so new customers know it’s an option. The same goes for winback messaging, since lapsed customers may not know, either. Slow shipping is often a catalyst of cart abandonment, a non-issue with BOPIS and curbside pickup. Make sure to include click and collect in abandonment messaging; a live map showing the nearest store would also be a great touch.

2. Capitalize on Valuable Real Estate

Confirmation emails have an average open rate of 65%, far higher than the average marketing message. When it comes to click and collect, just about every email is a confirmation is some sort, whether you’re initially confirming the order or communication pickup protocols.

That gives confirmation emails exceptionally valuable real estate. Maximize that with relevant recommendations, a staple of strong post-purchase messaging. The customer already made a purchase so complementary items are a good place to start. Additionally, different recommendation algorithms are particularly well-suited for each trigger in the customer lifecycle. Popular recommendations work well as inspiration for new customers, while interest-based or predictive recommendations are more appropriate for loyalists. With moment-of-open technology, you can also leverage a customer’s location to make recommendations based on their local weather forecast.

3. Segment Your BOPIS and Curbside Pickup Customers

It’s easy to think of click and collect as another shopping channel, but that would be a mistake. The customer is actually the channel and different people opt to pick up their purchases for different reasons. Along with Sailthru, we’ve identified four key customer personas, all of whom have their own messaging best practices.

To learn more about these four personas and how to message them, download The 4 Pickup Personas You Need to Know.

Gone are the days of people finding personalization intrusive and creepy. Today’s consumers appreciate — and even expect — personalization. Of more than 2,000 consumers surveyed by Formation.ai, 79% agreed that the more personalization tactics a brand uses, the more loyal they are to that brand. Today’s technology allows marketers to take it even further with deep personalization.

We all have our own individual preferences and patterns. Deep personalization allows for consumer experiences to acknowledge and benefit from that, ensuring they constantly improve over time as companies learn more about individuals. That happens through a combination of people’s complete history with a brand and any contextual clues from a specific moment.

For example, if I’m in the market for a new winter coat, a brand using deep personalization could predict this based on my website browsing behaviors. Real-time insights available can help brands drive deep personalization, informing marketing messages in the future. In addition to sending browse abandonment messages for winter coats — ideally the one I am predicted to purchase — that item can be featured in regular campaign emails, brought to the front of the mobile app and mobile messaging.

Adjusting to Deep Personalization

Consumers are increasingly aware of the data they provide to brands. While they don’t understand every process their data goes through, they do expect to exchange it for relevance. Keeping pace with consumer demands requires an investment in deep personalization.

Deep personalization is a transformation. Brands need to break down silos between marketing, sales, customer service, merchandising, and other channels to create a single experience. It can happen in bits and pieces, but ultimately, it requires full dedication to data-driven, AI-driven marketing.

Deep personalization requires data and content, and the tools to operationalize both of them within and across channels. Brands need to invest in consolidated consumer profiles, make consumer data easy to access across marketing and sales channels, and upgrade to advanced personalization. This is already happening in many industries with the increase of in-house data warehouses, data lakes, data science teams, and more. Companies are also increasingly seeking solutions that connect to these owned data assets in near real-time so that partner technologies are as much a part of this internal ecosystem as possible.

Where Does Deep Personalization Work Best?

Think about your entire customer journey. Deep personalization is best-suited for all of it as it enhances any experience driven by data.

Acquisition touchpoints can be personalized using data from your retained customer base and pre-acquisition engagements with your brand. You can personalize first conversion engagements based on acquisition source, collaborative algorithms, and more. Retention and loyalty engagements can be personalized using the data you have collected from the lifetime of engagement with the individual consumer.

When deploying deep personalization, there are four big things to consider:

Personalization has come a long way since marketers got excited about putting a customer’s first name in a subject line. For a while, the mindset was, the more data, the better. Now there’s a new priority: How do you know you have the right data? 

Your marketing managers have a different concern. They’re aware of all the data they could be using, and many want to be more data-driven. But that data is often stored in different silos. Without the tools to access that data or integrate it, marketers aren’t quite sure how they should use it, even if they could get at it.

But while data is obviously important, personalization doesn’t always require as much of it as you may think. Advanced personalization can leverage real-time data even when there isn’t much information available about an individual customer. What’s more, advanced personalization tactics can earn upwards of $20 for every $1 invested — on top of email marketing’s already-high ROI.

Marketers can adjust their messages based on constantly-changing context. So even with limited information about the behaviors or preferences of a particular customer, the message will still be relevant.

Personalization possibilities with little data

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.

Early holiday numbers predict ecommerce will boom again 

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.

Tactic 1: Create up-to-date regional campaigns with moment-of-open location data. 

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!

Tactic 2: Show customers how click-and-collect solves the need for speed. 

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.

Tactic 3. Keep buyers in the know with refreshed shipping and delivery information.

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.

Want to know more? Get the guide!

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:

Download your free copy now!

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.

While many consumer sectors have been able to keep some of their business going through ecommerce and delivery services, theme parks and other entertainment venues have to search for other ways to stay top of mind with their customers.

It’s tempting to cut off email communications until you have an opening date to announce, as a number of parks and destinations have done. But, now is a critical time to keep communication flowing! Clever and innovative uses of content that engage and entertain your visitors (many of whom might welcome a distraction right now) helps you build up anticipation for the moment you can reveal your opening day.


Get the guidance you need to survive difficult times and plan for a grand reopening!
Download Advanced Personalization for Theme Parks and Entertainment Destinations Now

The best part of this plan is that you probably have much of the content you already need. You just need to present it again in unexpected and intriguing ways—and preferably in a manner that saves you time and effort. Try these theme park marketing tips for your email campaign:

1. Hit pause briefly to retool. Use the time to think about what you want to say to your visitors, to gather material and think through your strategy for using email to keep connected. This will be helpful if your company needs to wait a bit to see how conditions develop.

2. Check up on your community. Use polls to find out how visitors are doing and encourage them to interact with your email. A couple of ideas: What are they doing now to stay entertained? What park features are they most excited about visiting when they can come back? 

If you use a live poll, your email readers will get instant feedback and see how they compare with your other respondents. Plus, polls give you great data to use in creating an even better experience when the parks open again.

3. Build engagement with content. Your customers might not be in the frame of mind to respond to purchase-based offers right now. So, find content that helps to take them out of the present situation and reminds them of the good times they enjoyed or tells them interesting things about your locations:

Check out this simple but inspiring example from the Oregon Zoo. When their attendees aren’t able to visit the zoo grounds, they’re “bringing the zoo to you!” through the inbox.

4. Give your loyal members the VIP treatment with personalized content. Warm them up with individualized messages that use their membership or rewards data, such as recaps of their past visits. When appropriate, offer special perks, such as advance ticket purchases, discounted season passes, membership tier upgrade and other incentives that would get your best customers excited about coming back.

5. Focus on opening day. Once you know when you’ll be able to reopen, add a countdown timer to your emails and start adding photos, videos and copy that show how the park is being refreshed and readied for visitors. The countdown timer is a graphic element that refreshes every time your recipients open your emails. It adds an element of urgency and excitement and lets customers watch how time is ticking down until they can stream through the turnstiles again. 

Engage now, reap the benefits later

This is a tough time for theme parks and other in-person experience destinations, especially those that are open all year long. Even if you can’t sell tickets now, personalized and engaging content can give your visitors a little break from day-to-day stress and look forward to the day when your park teams can welcome them back.

More actionable email marketing tips for destination brands

With advanced personalization, marketers can offer customers support through difficult times and set themselves up for success as normalcy returns. Get a complete breakdown of messaging priorities and learn how to make advanced personalization accessible and easy in this ebook for theme park marketers! Click here to get it now.

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.


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Get the Ebook: Personalizing Your Customer Journey As Retail Returns

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 retailers:

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. 

Upgrades today bring benefits later

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.

‘Always-on’ conditions require nimble messaging

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.

5 ways to stay competitive in a fast-changing market

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.

Real-time content positions your brand for what’s ahead

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.

The online grocery delivery boom 

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. 


Scale up your grocery brand’s personalization quickly and easily. Get the ebook:
Digital In Fast Forward: Email Personalization Best Practices for Grocery Retailers

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.

The challenge: Responding swiftly with up-to-date, trustworthy communications

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:

4 simple tactics to scale up essential customer communications

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. 

Short-term wins pave the way for future success

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!  

1. Personalization doesn’t work

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.

2. Everyone thinks it’s creepy

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.

3. You need a lot of data to get started

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. 

4. It’s prohibitively difficult

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. 

The final word: Personalization done right is worth it

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.