What’s the number-one factor that distinguishes a successful email campaign from an underperforming flop? It’s not the percentage of promotional offers you send, or the depth of the discounts you offer — or even the precision with which you pre-plan your audience segments.
Above all else, our research shows that customers purchase more, at non-promotional prices, from brands that speak to them as individuals.
Although this idea might sound obvious, many brands fail to grasp its full implications. From the instant we wake up every morning, we move through a world of personalized music playlists, maps, schedules, fitness apps, and video streaming services — all constantly learning, updating and re-tailoring their content in response to the unique actions we take.
In this stream of individualized content, an automated subject-line greeting — “Hi, Bob!” — just doesn’t feel as personal as it used to.
That’s why forward-looking brands are taking the next step beyond segmentation and surface-level personalization: using machine-learning software to generate unique email journeys whose content evolves in response to every customer’s clicks.
Here’s why individual content personalization represents a crucial step forward for every brand — including yours.
Personalized email content reduces reliance on promotional discounts.
Today’s retail landscape is more competitive than ever — particularly in the area of pricing. Instead of simply trying to out-bid direct competitors in their own vertical, retailers now face drastic undercutting from large corporations like Amazon, which leverage economies of scale to serve up deeper discounts than local stores.
In these intensifying price wars, every retail business now faces “the discount dilemma” — a seemingly impossible choice between losing customers to competitors’ lower prices, or losing revenue by offering constant promotional discounts. Even worse, over-reliance on promotions ends up creating customers who only love your discounts, but not your brand.
Individualized customer journeys provide a clear path out of this dilemma. The latest machine learning software can predict customers’ likely purchase patterns based on their past behavior, and can accurately forecast the ideal moments to serve up a personalized promotion — or to make an offer at full price.
As a result, machine learning personalization enables your email campaigns to sell more inventory at standard prices, without losing the customers who are more inclined to respond to promotional offers.
Email content personalization gets more mileage from your existing creative assets.
Every email you design represents a significant investment of time and resources. Those investments are largely wasted if you only send each creative asset to each subscriber once — and this waste is particularly frustrating if few customers respond to a given piece of content. Surely there’s a more cost-effective approach.
Imagine if, instead of sending each piece of content just once and hoping for the best, your email software could keep recycling every creative in fresh and original ways — maximizing its chance to connect and convert each subscriber.
That’s exactly what the latest campaign optimization software does. Starting with your existing content library, the algorithm generates infinite combinations and variations of each email template, each personalized around an individual subscriber’s tastes — and all within guardrail rules you’ve set in advance.
Your content and message can remain exactly the same — except that now they’re optimized to get the most mileage out of every asset you’ve designed.
Individually personalized journeys demonstrate you’re a brand worth trusting.
Customer trust might not sound like a quantifiable KPI — but its results certainly are. A recent study by Harvard Business Review reports that shoppers are twice as likely to buy from brands that take time to build emotional connections with them. In fact, a full 80 percent of customers say trust in a brand is the single most important factor in their major purchase decisions.
Statistics like these make a strong argument against the traditional approach of treating email like an ATM — sending out the broadly segmented content with minimal personalization, in hopes of generating automatic revenue.
The email channel can be so much more than this, if you take it seriously as a platform for one-on-one trust-building with your customers. Email remains the top-converting digital channel — consistently beating out every social media platform with its stunning 20-percent open rate — but only for campaigns that focus on building rapport and trust, rather than making constant sales pitches.
Time and again, the data demonstrates that individualized customer journeys predict an email campaign’s conversion rate more reliably than any other factor. Brands who invest in the software to create these journeys are seeing lower subscriber turnover rates — as well as sustained lifts in their opens and clicks.
But the only brands who reap those benefits are those who can demonstrate they’re worth trusting. And in today’s barrage of low-effort email personalization, the only way to stand out from the crowd is to invest in understanding your customers as individuals, and tailoring every piece of content in response to their behavior.
That’s why individual content personalization represents the next step in email marketing — and a crucial ingredient in long-lasting customer loyalty.