The Payoff of Personalizing Email with Real-Time Data


Originally posted on February 6, 2018 by Internet Retailer.

Retailers can modify email after its sent, taking into account the latest consumer behavior and available inventory.

Today most retail marketers agree that creating personalized experiences is an important way to better engage consumers and ultimately, drive sales, revenues, and profits. According to a March 2017 Forrester Research study, “Key Retail Tech Investments in 2017,” 68 percent of retailers reported that investments in driving personalized experiences is a priority for their organization.

Yet like so many other best practices we all know we should be doing, personalization has not been used to its full advantage yet. To be fair, most retailers face a number of real obstacles that make one-to-one personalization difficult. For example, in its “2017 Personalization Development Study,” Monetate found that retailers struggle with issues such as internal constraints, automating decisions at scale, data quality, building the right architecture, and more.

Personalization gone wrong

Considering these challenges, it’s not surprising that the same Monetate study highlighted the fact that just six percent of organizations are in the “advanced” stages of implementing personalization strategies. The other 94 percent reported that that they are “not doing anything” (10 percent), “just starting out” (28 percent), or “in process” (56 percent).

These findings suggest that the vast majority of retail marketing teams are not using personalization to its full advantage. Worse, they may be attempting to use this approach in marketing campaigns that come up short—or fail entirely.

There’s real risk here: If consumers respond to a personalized offer only find that the sale is over, the inventory is gone, or the price has changed, they will be inevitably—and understandably—disappointed. They may share these negative experiences with friends and family or choose not to shop with this brand again. Both decisions can be extremely damaging to the retailer’s reputation and ability to compete in the future.

The benefits of effective personalization

Like the old adage says, every challenge really is an opportunity in disguise. This means it’s not too late for marketers to embrace personalization as a way to differentiate themselves—and achieve significant new results. For example, a new research report from The Relevancy Group (TRG), “The Value of Personalization,” shows that behavioral targeting delivers an almost eight percent increase in email revenue, and real-time targeting using open-time and live business-context data delivers a 13 percent improvement.

Open-time data—which draws on information that’s accurate at the moment the consumer opens an email—is an example of recent innovations in email that now enable marketing teams to implement powerful personalization strategies and increase program performance. Using consumers’ actual website behavior, retailers can create highly personalized email experiences, such as retargeting, cart abandonment, or win-back emails.

Research shows that consumers actually want these types of emails. In the same TRG report cited above, 55 percent of respondents reported that they prefer emails that include relevant products or offers.

Overcoming traditional challenges and delivering new results

This level of increased engagement is exactly what so many marketing teams are trying to achieve, especially when traditional attempts at personalization fall short.

For example, it’s safe to say that all retailers display the latest product photos and descriptions on their website. But when they attempt to build email campaigns promoting these products, imagery, prices, or other details can often become dated, especially as new updates are added to the website. Worse, sometimes products in emails are simply not available after an email goes out, leading to lost sales and frustrated customers.

One effective way to overcome these challenges is with real-time email personalization. This technology now lets retailers use consumers’ actual behavioral data from their interactions on the website and generate highly personalized content in its email campaigns. Because these emails rely on moment-of-open data, marketing teams can also create contingency plans in case something goes wrong. For example, if inventory sells out, the email automatically pulls in another relevant product offer.

With real-time email personalization retailers now gain the ability to offer personalized product recommendations based on consumers’ website behavior, which leads to increased click-through rates. Not only does this overcome occasional frustrations, but real-time personalization can significantly increased customer engagement and loyalty—important results for any retailer today.

Liveclicker specializes in real-time email personalization.


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