Shopify Ecosystem

Personalization With Context: The Cure-All For Your Email Marketing Ailments

personalization-with-context:-the-cure-all-for-your-email-marketing-ailments

This article is part of our unPredictions series — no guesswork, no lofty trends, just real commerce marketing priorities to help you drive customer engagement and increase growth and revenue in 2022.

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Email is a powerful channel for expanding your reach — the more people that see your brand in their inbox, the better. 

However, savvy marketing teams also understand that successful email marketing is NOT about reach and reach alone. Quality is more important than quantity, so a marketing strategy based on batch-and-blast email isn’t the best way to drive customer growth and revenue for your brand. 

The truth is, one-size-fits-all email marketing can actually be detrimental to your goals. Sure, you can cast a wide net with a generic sales email sent out to your entire list, but the more generic an email is, the less relevant it becomes. The less relevant the email, the less likely a customer is to open it. This leads to a negative impact on email deliverability, revenue, and the customer’s overall experience with your brand. 

Conversely, a more sophisticated email marketing strategy that emphasizes personalization with context will actually help deliverability issues, increase revenue, and improve CX. In essence, it’s a cure-all for common email marketing ailments. 

Let’s look at how email personalized with context helps with deliverability, revenue, and CX. 

Your Deliverability Problems Might Be Strategy Problems

Your delivery rate is trending downward. It’s gotta be a technical problem, right? After all, customers love seeing the same generic “Buy This Now!” email you blast out week after week, don’t they? No reason to suspect uninspired email content is dragging down engagement, and thus, negatively impacting your sender reputation…

Of course, we know that’s not true. Although deliverability is influenced by a myriad of factors — some of them technical — your reputation as a sender (e.g., your sender score) is one of the most influential.

According to senderscore.org, your “sender score” is kind of like a credit score, except it’s focused on the health of your email marketing program. Your score (between 0 and 100) identifies the quality of your reputation. Email metrics like spam reports and unsubscribes are used to calculate this score. 

And no surprise, the average email recipient isn’t exactly prudent when it comes to clicking that “unsubscribe” or “report spam” button. At best, those clicks mean they are simply disinterested in the content you’re sending them. At worst, they’ve become annoyed or frustrated by your content.

You can avoid this problem by ensuring your email marketing strategy is based on personalized, contextual email. Tailoring your content to be relevant to each and every recipient based on purchase and behavior history increases the likelihood they find value in your emails. It’s the difference between a recipient thinking, “Ugh, [your brand] has nothing for me” and “Hey, [your brand] really gets me!” As your emails become more consistently relevant and personalized, recipients are less likely to ignore them. 

If you struggle with unsubscribes and spam reports, take a hard look at your approach to email content. If you’re not personalizing with context, you risk tarnishing your sender reputation and negatively impacting deliverability.

More Personalization = More Engagement = More Revenue

The Data & Marketing Association’s most recent Consumer Email Tracker report tells us that “the relevance of received messages has become the leading reason consumers like brand emails, even surpassing discounts and offers.” So if you’re leaning too heavily on your sales- and discount-led emails to entice customers into spending, you may want to rethink your strategy. 

Personalized 1:1 email is far beyond novelty — it’s an expectation. According to McKinsey, “the vast majority (about 80%) of customers want personalization from retailers.” The same source confirms that “successful personalization programs yield more engaged customers and drive up the top line.” Your ability to provide tailored, relevant content could be the difference-maker between why a customer drops money with your brand… or with your competition. 

Even better, personalization doesn’t just increase engagement, it increases the likelihood a customer will actually buy something. McKinsey also states that “80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalized experiences.” So if you want more customers to engage and spend with your brand more often, it’s vital to incorporate personalization. 

Of course, you should be delivering personalized 1:1 experiences across all channels, but it’s especially important and impactful for email. When your emails are personalized — meaning each customer receives emails with tailored content based on their behavior and history — the results are powerful. Litmus tells us that brands will see a “$42 return for every dollar spent on email when using dynamic content compared to $21 who never or rarely employ dynamic content.”

Improve CX by Providing Value to Customers

A cynic might assume that no one really wants to receive marketing emails, and that the onslaught of email is just the price you pay as a consumer in the age of digital-first retail. This sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth. Your customers want your emails. In fact, they enjoy getting emails from your brand… if you’re doing it in the right way. And the right way is relevant, meaningful, value-adding appeal. 

The name of the game with omnichannel marketing is to reach customers whenever they want, wherever they want, on the channel they prefer. So what channel do they prefer? Certainly it differs from customer to customer (hence why your marketing should be omnichannel, not single channel), but according to Statista, 51% of consumers prefer to be contacted by brands through email over any other channel. That means, of all the ways you can engage a customer, email is one of the best. 

But other brands are all vying for the attention of the customer you’re also after. Customers are hit with a barrage of marketing emails on a daily basis. It’s on you to make sure your brand’s emails are amongst the few that actually provide customers with value instead of cluttering their inbox. 

Personalizing email with relevant content based on context (e.g., your customer’s behaviors, where they are at in their lifecycle) makes your message meaningful, and even appreciated, by the customer. Here are some examples of personalized, contextual emails that can provide value to your customers: 

  • Back-in-Stock: Let your customer know when an out-of-stock product they’ve browsed multiple times on your website is finally back in stock.  
  • Price Drop: That wish list item your customer has been drooling over is now less expensive. Automate price-drop emails to let your customer know about the irresistible new price.  
  • Post-Purchase Follow-Up: If you sell a product that requires special care, automate a post-purchase email to send your customer instructions on how to care for and prolong the life of the item they just purchased.  
  • Win Back: Been a while since you heard from a certain customer? Let them know they’re still appreciated with timely, relevant offers based on their shopping preferences that will win back their business.
  • Reviews: Your customers love to be heard. Invite them to share their thoughts about their experiences with your brand. (Couple this with an incentive and you’ll really add value.)  
  • Brand Updates: Nothing to sell, nothing to promote. Instead, you’re simply keeping your customer up-to-date with the latest news impacting stores near their location, or stores the most frequent. 

Putting It Into Action with Personalized Email Tips

Personalized, contextual email is so critical to marketing success that we included it in our unPredictions ebook as one of the seven commerce marketing priorities your team should follow this year. But if you’re wondering how best to put it into practice, here are a few simple, practical tips to keep in mind when stepping up your 1:1 email campaign game. 

  • #1. Use Subscriber History to Deliver More Relative Content. When creating content in your email marketing platform, use subscribers’ recent browsing or purchase information to inform your creative. It’s one of the easiest ways to ensure your message is relevant. Consider category affinity segments so you can block-target content for specific audiences inside of the same campaign. 
  • #2. Keep Your Automated Programs from Getting Stale with Dynamic Content. Quality dynamic content in your automated programs is a great way to ensure that your messaging is not getting stale for your subscribers. Keep in mind that many of your email subscribers fall into your programs multiple times, so you’ll want to find ways to mix up the content they receive depending on their recent activity with the brand. 
  • #3. Incorporate Dynamic Images and Personalization Tokens to Catch Attention. Prepare multiple block-targeted hero images to build a dynamic layout that is eye catching and relevant to the sub-segments inside of your audience. You can also make your subject lines more captivating with personalization. For example, with the Emarsys Customer Engagement Platform, you can incorporate personalization tokens like first name, recent category or product views, or geographical information directly into the subject line. 

These are just a handful of tips to consider when building out your personalized email marketing strategy. However, you’ll need the right technology to make it happen. If your current ESP isn’t cutting it, or if your tech stack is holding you back from delivering the 1:1 personalized, contextual email that will drive results for your business, here are a few resources to consider:

unPredictions 2022

As a marketer, you understand that things change quickly in our industry. Lest any marketer let their guard down and think that marketing and commerce are fixed and predictable, simply look back at the radical shifts we experienced over the past two years as a sobering reminder that nothing should be taken for granted. 

That said, email has proven time and time again to be the most resilient, reliable, and profitable channel when it comes to omnichannel customer engagement — so you must give it the love and attention it deserves. Is your email deliverability rate improving? Are your emails moving the needle when it comes to revenue? Do your emails provide value and make your customers happy? Your business can’t afford any answer besides “yes.” So if your marketing team struggles in any of these areas, focus on bringing personalized, contextual email into your strategy, and don’t settle for less. 

Learn more about why personalized, contextual email should be a top priority for marketers this year. Download the unPredictions: Commerce Marketing Priorities Powering 2022 ebook.

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Special thanks to our friends at Emarsys for their insights on this topic.
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