Making data central to your email marketing
Email has evolved as a channel. The ability to integrate data used to be simplistic, but as data and technology have advanced, so has the level of sophistication. Today’s email marketers need to identify the challenges they have with data in email and ask themselves the questions that will lead them into the future. To see how far we’ve come, let’s take a look at the past.
The journey of email marketing
In the ‘early days’ of email personalization, starting a message with “Hi First Name” was enough to capture your customers attention and show that your brand was tech-savvy– but that level of personalization won’t cut it any longer.
In the era of increasing personalization, we focused on using business rules that drove recommendations at the segment level, identifying next best purchase and product recommendations based on customers with similar behaviors.
Today’s (and tomorrow’s) era of modern personalization lets marketers drive individual conversations through artificial intelligence (AI).
Better email personalization doesn’t just impact standard KPIs like opens and clicks. When you use email as a strategic touchpoint in the customer journey, whether that’s making a purchase online, getting more information from your website or visiting your brick-and-mortar store, you move closer to building a 1:You relationship focused on a holistic customer experience strategy that’s personalized with the most relevant information for every individual.
Data tells us about real people so we can build human connections
In this hyper-personalized world, robust data is everything. AI becomes more powerful, relevant and effective when you feed it more data. And the more data you have on your customer, the more insights you will have into what motivates them, meaning you can accurately speak to each customer in a way that’s will resonate.
Personalization is challenging
So if data makes such a difference in email personalization, why aren’t more people using it? Here are a few roadblocks that may get in the way:
Aligning and activating data: Getting data is the first step, but using it can be its own challenge. Although brands may have access to data, it’s often not in one place and difficult to activate within the channel.
Real-time decisioning: Often marketers can’t actually make decisions in real time because they’re subject to the most recent data they can access. Real-time decisions are critical, though, because they create seamless conversations with your customers.
Creating and managing content: Brands can find it overwhelming and difficult to scale their content creation when trying to personalize at an individual level. Features like Agility Harmony’s visual editor allows marketers to design emails using a library of ‘snippets’, modules and templates from the architecture and design suite that make it easier to personalize at scale.
Channel alignment and optimization: If you have figured out personalization for the email channel, congrats! But you’re not done yet. Reaching people across channels and devices lets you connect with them in the format that is most relevant to them, so keep expanding your approach.
- Measurement: Understanding the impact of your actions is often the most difficult, yet the most important, part of your campaign. A holistic measurement approach will help you evaluate what went well (or not so well) and determine the direction for your future email strategy.
To get past the hurdles, ask yourself a few questions
Once you recognize the data challenges with your email personalization strategy, you can dig deeper. Consider these questions as you audit your data approach:
1. Are you leveraging both first- and third-party data?
Information used to be misaligned because data was less accurate in the past, and brands didn’t use personalization as well since they could not fully trust their data. Today, you can be a lot more accurate with the right data assets.
Remember that this question is not just about the data you can access; it’s also about how you’re using identity management to understand each individual.
2. How are you segmenting your customers?
Once you have first- and third-party data available, consider if you are segmenting customers appropriately based on insights like purchase behavior, psychographic data and intent.
3. Are you able to activate that data across channels to create a connected experience?
People see your brand as one entity, whether they’re shopping online, reading your blog or scrolling through your email. Centralized data creates this experience and builds that relationship on a personal level.
4. What are your goals, and are you measuring holistically?
Getting caught up in clicks and opens, it can be easy to lose sight of the goals you have for your email campaign. What are the broader goals that you have for your campaign: Driving people to your store? Building brand awareness? Establishing your brand as a thought leader?
No matter what your goals are, make sure that you can measure KPIs that drive those goals and use the results to make business decisions.
Take our quiz to see how well your brand is delivering on presonalization: 5 questions that reveal your email personalization maturity
Putting data into action: A brand story from Coach
Coach wanted to build deeper connections with their customers, so they partnered with Epsilon and used Agility Harmony to test the impact of email personalization.
First, we matched each email subscriber’s profile to modeled attributes. Using that insight, combined with demographic, behavioral and engagement data, categories were identified for selected audiences.
For example, people with a propensity to purchase high-ticket luxury products were put into the “luxury shoppers” audience, while those with seasonal spending behavior were identified as “trendsetters.”
Then we used Agility Harmony’s machine learning engine to inform recommendations for individual subscribers to deliver 1:1 content. ‘Luxury shoppers’ and ‘trendsetters,’ for instance, were served different subject lines and pre-header text based on their shopping style.
The data-driven approach not only increased online average order values (AOV), but also drove people to buy in physical locations too: Overall AOV saw a 3.7% lift, while in-store AOV went up 4.1%. This test also increased site traffic and uncovered new categories within the customer profile that Coach can leverage as they expand their personalization efforts.
The power of data in email marketing
Data’s influence on email marketing has grown rapidly, and email marketers need to keep up with the hyper-personalized world. By facing data challenges head on and asking the right questions, brands can achieve amazing results and build lasting human connections with their customers.
To see how you can improve your data-driven email marketing, learn more about Agility Harmony.