You had me at open: Delivering relevant email content at the time of open

This post is contributed by Lauren Gentile, Vice President, Creative at Epsilon.  

According to the Epsilon Response Network, when you leverage information about a consumer's preferred time of open, you can drive click rates by 11%. Consumers want relevant content that aligns to their preferences. In the email channel, this means delivering content that resonates at the time of open to drive engagement. Time-of-open or live content allows marketers to provide instantly tailored and personalized content to enhance a consumer’s experience with an email based on time, location, device and behavior: every time the email is opened.  This innovative marketing tactic enables individualized content and helps to transport email closer to marketing in real-time.

Live content in email updates by leveraging real-time information such as the customers’ location, prior behavior and trending topics.  For example:

Real-time: Avid sports fans want the latest updates of their favorite teams’ scores, news and roster changes in real-time. Sports and entertainment marketers can integrate this information, through live content, by featuring a real-time ticker in their email marketing campaigns.  This strategy immediately enhances the relevance of your campaigns. Consider what this content can add to your mobile experience, which is likely how your customers are engaging with your emails on game day.

Prior behavior:  Past behavior can tell you a lot about the customers you are trying to reach. Many marketers use historical insights to deliver promotions and offers to their customers.  Leveraging live content, marketers can present specific product recommendations to the user based on real-time inventory and availability. Consider how you can leverage data like inventory to let your customers know how many of those sneakers are available in size 9, or how many vehicles with that make/model are left on the lot.

Trending topics:  Through mobile devices, consumers are accustomed to receiving news and information instantly.  How can you bring this experience to the email channel? Using geo-targeting data, you can share information that’s relevant to the needs of your customers based on their location.  A news provider might consider delivering real-time weather updates and breaking news based on the location of their customers.  A retailer might consider delivering three days of weather forecasts with complimentary products based on the forecast, while a home improvement store may use weather forecasts to deliver ideas for indoor versus outdoor projects.

Live content elevates email calls-to-action beyond static content, includes real-time interactive elements, targets content to the desktop or a specific mobile device, incorporates rich media and enables geo-targeting.  Data insights are key in driving campaign success with a live content strategy. The powerful combination of data profiles and real time data – enables marketers to truly understand their customers’ needs at the time of open. Data shows that live content can increase email engagement by as much as 40%.  Content is king and data ‘royalties’ drive content’s power.

While there are proven results from integrating time-of-open content strategies within campaigns, challenges exist in which marketers strive to overcome: implementing the technology, developing the content and having the resources. Marketers should: create a framework on how to solve for each challenge within their organization, maintain open communication with their leadership team to share their strategy and learn from their peers. Once the challenges are solved, you’re on the road to higher email engagement.