Getting Started with Open-Time Personalization in Email

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What is open-time personalization?

Open-time personalization tailors email messages at the moment of open in microseconds by utilizing local, on-the-ground conditions around location, device, weather and time. This technology brings a new level of relevance to email that behavioral and demographic data hasn’t accounted for.

Why add open-time personalization to email?

Three reasons: Generate more revenue, retain current customers, and position for future customer growth and acquisition.

  • Seventy-four percent of marketers say targeted personalization increases customer engagement, and that they see an average increase of 20% in sales when using personalized experiences – Campaign Monitor
  • Seventy-five percent of consumers ignore or opt-out because of frequency overload and 55% say lack of relevance drives the same behaviors. Nearly a quarter of consumers say it’s easier to delete the message than opt-out, indicating that a low opt-out rate doesn’t even present the full picture of the customer experience. – The Relevancy Group
  • By the end of 2021, the number of worldwide email users will be over 4.1 billion. Approximately half of the worldwide population used email in 2017. – The Radicati Group

Intro to time-based targeting

There’s no denying that we live in a highly digital world where we expect companies to anticipate our immediate needs. Simply put, marketers cannot expect to interact with their customers in real time without this very basic data point: time.

64% of consumers expect companies to respond and interact with them in real time – eConsultancy

If you’re just getting started with time-based targeting, the good news is that historical data is not needed to launch a successful email campaign. Take Black Friday and Cyber Monday, for instance, the busiest weekend for retailers who have planned a sequence of marketing promotions months in advance. The trend is to launch sales even earlier than the sale holiday, sometimes launching Cyber Monday promotions immediately following Black Friday. With time-based targeting, you can add both promotions to a single campaign and anticipate late openers. When time and time zone are detected at the moment of open, the relevant promotional offer is served. This is vitally important – and reduces a lot of complexity – especially for worldwide retailers who make frequent sale changes across the time zone spectrum.

Intro to geo-targeting

Geo-targeting is the use of IP detection to determine a subscriber’s location. Again, using geo-targeting methods does not require any historical data, as location is identified at the moment of open. One of the many reasons geo-targeting has become such a powerful messaging tool is that the use cases span every industry. Here are a few examples:

  • An enterprise grocery company operating across 12 different brands can target in-email content with the store location for the brand closest to the recipient at the moment of open, prompting the customer along a relevant journey.
  • Travel companies can tease tropical getaways for those who are in locations with weather conditions below 40 degrees and swap out the content for those experiencing a heat wave – all within the same email campaign and even if you don’t know their location in advance.
  • A cruise line recently added maps to their emails to showcase local events by targeting consumers closest to the event destinations, resulting in doubling their open rates.

Technical limitations: What you need to know

Many email clients allow for open-time email personalization, but Google delivers all image data in its web client using a proxy, obscuring where the customer’s true location is. However, with new proprietary geo-targeting technology, Liveclicker is able to track past locations for each opener and predict where the most likely location of a subscriber is, when opened in Gmail. As this technology continues to improve and becomes more widely distributed, this limitation will become non-existent.

Conclusion

It wasn’t that long ago when marketers lived in an exclusively analog world, working months in advance to create direct mail content. This involved numerous groups and resources, an extensive project timeline, and a “hope and pray” approach to demographic targeting. As we became more digital, the opportunity to compress that cycle became more democratized, and messaging became more relevant and personalized. Yet, there are still limitations with current segmentation strategies: pulling from cumbersome databases or collecting and storing datasets without the appropriate infrastructure inhibit effective audience management. As a result, marketers are spending more time and resources to improve audience management.

60% of B2B marketers say they’ve been more focused on improving audience segmentation and personas over the past 18 months.” – Salesforce

Now, with the ability to use open-time data in email marketing, brands can move beyond traditional segmentation strategies, utilizing technological applications that identify key data touchpoints and execute relevant messaging in real time. Additionally, open-time data is massively scalable and can be can be exported back to your CRM or ESP, composing a holistic digital body language profile for each subscriber. This is the era of hyper-personalization and the possibilities are endless.

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