Email marketers are under tremendous pressure right now to perform, while at the same time facing tightening budgets and shrinking resource pools. That means it’s never been more important to get the most possible value out of every campaign, and take steps to make production more efficient.
This includes a core component of every good email marketing program: testing.
Testing is important for effective email marketing because you can see whether you’re investing your time and budget wisely. But traditionally marketers have had to wait hours – sometimes days or even weeks – before you find out which variable of your test generates the results you want. That means you can’t apply your findings until the campaign is over, often well after those insights would have been most helpful (in that campaign!).
You can solve both problems when you join A/B testing with dynamic content in an astonishingly simple, yet powerful, combination. Here’s how it works:
You set up a typical A/B test comparing two versions of creative: hero headlines, CTA buttons, product features…whatever you want to compare performance. But here’s the important part—when adding the creative to your email code, you make sure to do it as dynamic content (content that can be changed and adjusted at any time).
Then deploy the campaign as normal, and wait for the opens to start. Once a statistically significant winner is determined, the testing platform automatically swap in the winning content for all recipients—even those that already received, or even opened, the message. BAM! The higher-performing, better-converting creative is now sitting in the inbox of your entire list.
The result? Faster results and better campaign performance.
If you can set up your testing through a dynamic content platform to monitor performance and automatically update your campaign with the winning content, that’s one less task on your list.
Two more bonuses:
Try it out on three tactics that can help you capitalize on the changes in consumer behavior and other special challenges that will make this holiday season one for the books.
Hypothesis: Adding dynamic personalized product recommendations to a pickup reminder will generate incremental sales without increasing spam complaints or unsubscribes.
Rationale: BOPIS (Buy Online, Pickup In Store) and BOPUC (Buy Online, Pick Up Curbside) helps customers buy local and get their goods faster than waiting for home delivery. The emails you send when their orders are ready to claim give you a chance to upsell or cross-sell customers, just as you can with regular order confirmations.
Test: Your control is your regular pickup notification. The variable is the same email with personalized product recommendations pulled from inventory. Test to see whether customers respond to this additional content.
KPIs: Unique/total clicks, conversions, unsubscribes, spam complaints
Hypothesis: A coupon using a scratch-off animation will attract more clicks and conversions than a static coupon
Rationale: Animated GIF support is nearly universal now in email browsers. Plus, a moving object is more likely to arouse curiosity and clicks.
Test: The control is the static coupon. The variable is the animated coupon. Divide your database into two segments at random, and test to see which one draws better responses.
KPIs: Unique/total clicks, conversions, purchases, revenue.
Hypothesis: Adding personalized content in more locations (greeting, images, offers, location-based elements) will increase customer engagement and conversions.
Rationale: Most marketers can personalize the subject line or use segmentation to target content manually. Adding personalization throughout the email instead of segregating it to one location tells your customers you know them as individuals, not just numbers.
Note: With this multivariate structure, you’re comparing one entire email to another instead of individual sections like the subject line, image, call to action or offer.
Test: Your control is your standard email with one personalization element, or none. Your variable is an email in which you add multiple personalization points, such as a combination of the following according to the data you have for each customer:
KPI: Unique/total opens, unique/total clicks, conversions.
Testing is just one way you can streamline your email process, leaving you more time to think, plan and analyze. Check out our new guide, 8 Secret Workflow Hacks Email Marketers Use to Get the Job Done (With Results!) and get tips like these:
Amazon’s decision to delay Prime Day extravaganza to October could throw a wrench into retail marketers’ Black Friday/Cyber Monday campaigns, threatening to steer holiday spending away from the traditional Thanksgiving weekend shopping extravaganza.
The Prime Day challenge, plus surveys showing nearly half of U.S. consumers expect to spend less on holiday shopping and a significant share remain skittish about in-store shopping, mean marketers must engage customers more creatively to compete and win in this highly unusual and uncertain holiday season.
Many marketers are counting on a record-breaking holiday season this year to make up for lost time. Make a few core adjustments and adaptations to set your email program up for success during the peak of the holiday shopping season.
1. Anticipate the Prime Day challenge
Coresight research shows one-third of consumers will do their holiday shopping on Amazon Prime Day (which could land in early to mid-October and run as long as a week), while only 15% said they would shop on Black Friday instead.
It’s a problem because Prime Day shoppers might end up with less money to spend on Black Friday/Cyber Monday promotions or have finished most of their holiday spending.
Delivering a better customer experience with advanced personalization and real-time data can help marketers recapture shopper attention by the time Black Friday and Cyber Monday roll around six to eight weeks later. Adopt flexible tactics like:
2. Double down on loyalty
Loyalty programs are rich sources of data that marketers can use to keep members’ eyes focused on their stores and websites with some clever messaging strategies:
3. Stress convenience and safety of local store shopping
Coresight research also shows that consumers are once again avoiding public spaces like shopping centers and malls as COVID-19 cases rise again.
It’s too soon to predict what will happen when the holiday shopping quarter begins on Oct. 1. However, marketers can use email to explain how they keep customers and employees safe in their stores and what services they offer, like curbside pickup and BOPIS (buy online, pickup in store) for time-pressed or cautious customers.
Besides this content – which can also explain mask requirements, sanitation, and store layout changes to reduce time spent online – marketers can use dynamic content modules that contain late-breaking news, such as sudden changes in hours or open locations.
Adding a map or store address of the nearest open location can keep foot traffic going to the right stores and reduce shopper frustration.
4. Get on your customers’ calendars
Whether it’s an in-store VIP event or a major promotion online, an add-to-calendar function lets customers add the date to their phone or desktop calendars and then generates a reminder just before the event happens.
This is a big bonus because the reminder comes from the calendar—appearing on the desktop or the phone lock screen—and keeps the big day from getting blitzed by wall-to-wall Prime Day promotions in the inbox.
5. Keep email content up to date and accurate with real-time inventory data and moment of open technology
An October Prime Day might pull inventory as well as spending forward six to eight weeks. That, along with supply chain disruptions, can lead to shortages and out-of-stocks for Black Friday Week promotions.
Marketers can use dynamic content powered by real-time data to swap out-of-stock promotions for in-stock merchandise, even after sending the email. Moment of open technology refreshes email content automatically whenever the customer opens the message—another way marketers can reduce frustration and increase conversions.
There’s no doubt that 2020 is testing retailers like never before. But marketers who connect with their customers on deeper levels and offer them more than just a deep discount, who reduce barriers and frustration and build trust and reliability will be the ones who come out on top when the world rights itself again. Get actionable inspiration to shape your own email strategy for success through BFCM and beyond in the Liveclicker 2020 Holiday Lookbook.
The Beauty industry has a long history of resilience and providing comfort in difficult times. As far back as the Great Depression, people who couldn’t afford expensive treatments could still often pop for Tangee or Max Factor lipsticks for a little help feeling special.
This “lipstick effect” holds true in 2020 as the $75 billion U.S. beauty industry scrambles to make up losses during the coronavirus pandemic. DIY and self-care purchases have helped push online beauty sales up 20% to 30% over 2019, according to McKinsey, after most retail outlets closed.
The digital surge alone won’t be enough to make up the losses from store shutdowns and lower traffic to essential businesses, McKinsey projects. However, the move to digital could signal a long-lasting change for the beauty industry, where up to 85% of beauty sales happened in stores previously.
That’s why marketers must be ready to use all the digital channels at their disposal to stay connected with customers, today and in the future when retail operations begin to ramp up again. In particular, email’s cost-effectiveness and flexibility makes it a prime medium to serve as the foundation for digital relationship building.
Beauty marketers looking for advice can turn to a new Liveclicker guide, Preparing for the New Normal in Beauty: Preparing and Scaling Digital Customer Communications, for quarter-by-quarter strategies, campaign guidance and a new set of best practices that will help them respond effectively when customers are ready to return.
Unlike the Depression or the 2008 recession, today’s “Great Cessation” is a double whammy: an economic crisis driven by a health crisis. “Business as usual” is a long way off, and we might not fully return to pre-pandemic conditions for some time, if ever.
“Be prepared to adapt your hard-earned brand voice. Beauty products have long enjoyed a status as a fun, accessible indulgence, but even as commerce picks up, customers will be watching their money much more closely,” the guide advises.
As a beauty marketer, you must be prepared to switch up messages as conditions warrant – especially in an environment that changes so fast. Email is ideal for this because you can get your messages in front of your customers quickly and tailor them by regions where conditions might vary.
Near-term: Use email to keep customers in the loop about store policies on safety, managing returns, gift cards or loyalty points that expired while stores were closed, delivery or supply disruptions (see the example below), options for low- or no-contact deliveries and payment and other key issues. Look for ways to build trust with new customers and maintain it with long-time and loyal buyers.
Longer term: The months leading up to the holiday shopping can be a time to clear out inventory that built up in slower months. Acknowledge that many customers still face economic hardship. Explain how customers can shop in-store, online, in an app or by phone.
This Tarte email promotes the payment plan AfterPay with the subject line: “for when you’re on a budget💸💸💸.”
Download your copy of Preparing for the New Normal in Beauty: Preparing and Scaling Digital Customer Communications for more strategies like these, along with detailed holiday season guidance.
The changes we’ve gone through since March mean your traditional beauty industry marketing playbook now needs a total makeover. The best advice? “Assume nothing.”
The “new normal” of the moment has generated several new best practices, like these:
Although no one’s certain yet what life will be like in the next year or so, the best advice is to remain flexible. Advanced personalization and real-time content combined with email allow you to pivot your messages swiftly, using customer data and moment of open technology.
One example: notifying local customers about a store opening. Many retailers will roll out store openings gradually based on local conditions. Create emails that adapt to location data to let customers in a specific store’s market area know the store is open and what to expect when they get there.
Nobody says navigating these next month will be easy as we watch how the pandemic moves and where economic recovery is advancing or lagging. McKinsey even suggests we might not begin to see a recovery until early 2022.
In this environment, tools that allow your email strategies to turn on a dime if conditions change suddenly and scale up personalization to keep communications meaningful and relevant are no longer “nice to have.” They’re an essential part of a modern email program that puts customers first – something that is more important than ever today and on into the future.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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Our recent search for the latest in email marketing led us to Jessica Mirabelli, Digital Messaging Specialist at Bond Brand Loyalty—who served up three tales (two shareworthy, one cautionary) that put experience front and centre, both for consumers and for marketers.
Knowing her team currently designs, builds and/or deploys campaigns for 15+ brands – we’re glad Jess was able to narrow things down to a few examples that can resonate across the industry. Each of them showcases how optimizing lifecycle email can influence and extend the experience beyond transactional touchpoints, so let’s get to it!
Rewards programs and lifecycles go together like, well, pretty much anything that goes together, really. Any program, especially those based on redeeming points, can benefit from having well-mapped triggers going to work for them. In one brand’s case, a comprehensive communication strategy was already surpassing expectations. What led to the positive results? A focus on campaign engagements based on relevant customer journey touchpoints.
If you’re into specifics (we are, obviously), 1 of 5 members redeemed 5X more points than before the triggers were launched—and when it came to cardholders booking travel with their points, Jess and company saw an opportunity.
“Knowing we’d be reaching travellers when it matters was just the beginning,” she told us, “we had to pinpoint useful content, too, and unique ways to deliver it. The ‘what’ and ‘how’ are always just as important as the ‘when’.”
First, handy travel tips, combined with calculated content designed to reinforce the program’s key feature and benefits, hit your inbox post-booking. Then, timely look-aheads – scheduled according to your travel dates – take over with dynamic real-time content to help the brand make the most of the moment and stay with you throughout your travel journey.
Closer to your trip, with the goal once again being to show that the brand’s thinking of you – and to amp up your excitement – you receive an email reminder that your flight is just two days away. What’s packed inside? A checklist of travel essentials, as well as a live weather forecast for your destination. And to cap it all off, a day before your return, you get another checklist, along with a live look at what the weather’s supposed to be like once you return home.
No matter what mother nature has in store, members are left feeling valued and recognized.
Of course, you don’t have to have a full-blown program to be sending emails strategically. Say you have an event. And say email is one of your channels of choice for communicating with prospective guests/registered attendees. Now, step out of those hypotheticals and right into this real-life scenario that plays out for Bond every year.
See, every Spring marks a new launch event for The Loyalty Report, a Bond staple and the longest-standing and largest global study on customer engagement, loyalty attitudes, behaviour, drivers and disruption. 2019 marked the culmination of an annual effort to maximize the registration flow and keep one of the company’s calling cards top of mind.
In Jess’ words, “We’ve always sort of tinkered with how we should talk when it comes to events—and how often,” she noted, “this year we upped the cadence a bit, and thought a lot about how we could turn emails that are usually transactional, into key moments in the overall experience.”
That cadence makes up a lifecycle that’s built to expand the experience, while opening the door for engagement before and after the event.
Your Registration/Invitation arrives in your inbox complete with:
Your Weekly Reminders leading up to launch day build anticipation by featuring:
And last but not least, your Post-Event Communications empower you to:
In the end, Bond saw registrants confirm their attendance faster than any other year, and more surveys filled out than ever before.
Jess admitted the results have had a trickle-down effect within the company, since Bond engages an overall audience of more than a million through its email and campaign marketing. “It’s not just huge for us,” she asserted, “it gives us some tried and true best practices, and a solid foundation that allows us to confidently set up other brands for success, too.”
Before we cast off here, we wanted to note: Subscribers may not have even realized these next events took place, so keep’em on the down low, ok? Kidding aside, Bond recently had to navigate some choppy waters after embarking on what’s usually an uneventful migration.
At first glance, everything seemed normal. It wasn’t until a few months after the migration that a deeper look into one campaign revealed a consistently large drop-off in opens for the entire lifecycle. Not just a couple of triggers, every email.
The problem turned out to be simple: A provider was blocking Bond’s domains and preventing the emails from being delivered.
The solution? It ended up being fairly simple, too, but here’s what played out. Contact was immediately made with the provider to remove the block and correct the issue.
The issue itself served as a catalyst for the team to implement critical changes:
“It’s led us to a more fine-tuned process, for sure,” Jess admitted, “it’s even shown us how we can get our Decision Sciences team involved early and often, so we can paint a really clear picture when it comes to the data that matters to our clients.”
It was a pleasure having Jess share these email insights with us. Thanks to her, and to Bond, for putting the time in. We posted the link earlier, but if you want to know more about what they’ve got going on, you can check out the Bond website anytime.
Huge thanks to Zach Cosby, Associate Creative Director/Copywriter at Bond Brand Loyalty, for his contributions on this piece!