personalization

Personalization: Not Just for Websites Anymore

  |  July 30, 2013   |  Comments

What companies need is a way to create a personalized email experience as soon as the customer opens the email - not when it is sent.

By now, most of you would agree that personalizing a customer's website experience is vital to business performance. In fact, companies using real-time behavioral data to customize the consumer experience based on factors such as traffic sources, geography, and even weather have seen a 19 percent increase in sales, on average, according to a study conducted earlier this year by Econsultancy and Monetate (my company). This adds up to hundreds of millions of dollars in additional sales.

The good news is that new technologies allow this same level of personalization in email marketing.

Getting Personal

According to the aforementioned Econsultancy survey, 94 percent of companies agree that personalization is critical to current and future success. While email is still known as the number one value and revenue driver when it comes to retaining customers, it can still be better.

Here's how: currently, email campaigns take about two to three weeks from conception until they hit consumers' inboxes.

First, the business team needs to tell the marketing team what customers or products to target with a campaign. Then, the merchants come up with the products to show in the email, and the creative team designs and builds out the look and feel of the email. A request goes out to the analytics team to pull a list of customers who bought jeans, for example, in the past week. And finally, weeks later, the email campaign about jeans is sent to customers.

Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch

What do you think has happened between the time a customer looks at that pair of jeans on your website and the email marketing campaign lands in her inbox?

That's right - she's bought that pair of jeans elsewhere. Or she's on to the next thing, ready to buy a sweater or pair of shoes when your email about jeans is finally sent.

Not to mention that by the time the list of customers is pulled and the email is created, thousands more shoppers would have browsed jeans on your website and opted in to receive email from you, but would not have been included in your original email campaign. What companies need is a way to create a personalized email experience as soon as the customer opens the email - not when it is sent.

The Next Big Thing

More and more of your customers are looking at emails on devices other than their desktop or laptop computers and are opening your emails on browser-based email clients like Gmail, where many of the personalized capabilities found on websites can also be created. If you are currently customizing your website by geography or badging certain items as "top sellers" or "sold out," those same experiences are possible in your email campaigns in order to keep the consistent look and feel of your brand.

There's no question that personalizing your website wins new customers - and helps you keep the ones you have. Customizing your email campaigns with in-the-moment customer information is equally as valuable.

Get Ahead of the Curve

For those of you who are still getting up to speed personalizing your website, start thinking ahead so you can be a leader in email personalization. By making your email content as relevant as possible you are giving customers a better experience - and tapping into a huge revenue opportunity at the same time.

Image on home page via Shutterstock.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nathan Richter

Nathan Richter advises top enterprise clients including Best Buy, QVC, Urban Outfitters, Sports Authority, and PETCO on website optimization. A veteran of digital marketing and online retailing, Richter has extensive hands-on experience helping enterprise clients implement successful multichannel marketing campaigns. Richter has directed online marketing and site optimization programs for David’s Bridal, QVC, The Franklin Mint, and dELiA's.

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