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      Real-Time Personalization

      Email Personalization: Your Guide to Better Email Marketing Campaigns

      By Ian Donnelly

      Sep 08, 2022

      25 min read

      Real-Time Personalization

      Email Personalization: Your Guide to Better Email Marketing Campaigns

      When it comes to digital marketing channels, email is the best of the best. Everyone uses it, every marketer loves it, and every business strategy needs it.

      But not all marketing emails are the same. There are good ones, there are great ones, and then there are personalized email campaigns. 

      Personalization can take your email marketing to the next level, allowing you to serve the perfect products to individual customers within a large-scale campaign that won’t take ages to customize and manage. You can orchestrate promotions that weave together multiple channels, technologies, and data points that still cater to shoppers on a one-to-one level.

      Ready to start reaping the exponential rewards of email personalization? Here’s everything you need to know.

      What Is Email Personalization?

      For starters, let’s clarify what we mean by personalization. 

      Personalization is the gold standard of digital marketing. It describes the ideal relationship you can achieve with your audience, offering them a curated experience with your brand that caters to them on an individual level.

      It is a concept that goes beyond your email campaigns and should be present in every facet of your e-commerce marketing strategy.

      Bloomreach defines e-commerce personalization as the practice of using commerce data responsibly to get to know, guide, and impress your customers with experiences that are so relevant and contextual, they feel like magic. E-commerce personalization spans cross-channel, on-site, and in-app. It encompasses anonymous and known customers, and includes personalized messages, content, site layouts, products, and much more. It is driven by real-time, first-party data. This results in measurable journeys that engage and lead customers through brand awareness to product discovery to repeat purchases.

      Commerce data is the key to making personalization the best it can be. It lets you tailor messages to customers based on their specific wants, inclinations, and buying habits. It incorporates information like their name, purchase history, how many times they log into your app, or the time of day they tend to open their emails. The more data you have to inform your marketing efforts, the better they can be. 

      And when it comes to email marketing, which is the most powerful tool in any marketer’s toolbox, personalization needs to be at the heart of all your campaigns. Making emails that are individually relevant, dynamic, and data-driven should be a top priority.

      The Benefits of Personalization in Email [With Stats]

      As one of the most widely used and lucrative marketing channels, email offers an incredible way to communicate with your customers. It’s a part of people’s everyday lives, so much so that over half of the world’s population has an email address that they use daily.

      And with the power of personalization, emails can produce spectacular marketing results. Even minor tweaks to your campaigns can lead to better conversion rates, website bounce rates, average order values, cost per acquisition, and customer lifetime value.

      Simple tactics like adding personalized subject lines to your emails make them 26% more likely to be opened. And including personalized calls to action increase your conversion rates by 202%

      The fact is, the more personalized your emails become, the better they perform. On average, personalized emails produce 6x higher transaction rates.

      Not only are personalized emails effective, they are expected by your customers. Online shoppers are well aware of the data that modern e-commerce businesses collect from their interactions, and those who opt in for marketing emails do so to be served with more relevant and customized content. 47% of US consumers prefer emails with deals and promotions from brands, and personalized email marketing generates a median ROI of 122%.

      Read next: How BrewDog Increased Revenue +13.8% Using Personalized Email Campaigns

      Designing Personalized Emails

      With so many different ways to craft and position your personalized email marketing campaigns, it can be hard to know where to begin. But there are three key principles to keep in mind while designing personalized emails.

      1. Make Your Email Content Relevant 

      As every marketer knows, the content of your email is the most important part. Without meaningful content, your emails won’t stand out in your audience’s crowded inbox. 

      And with a personalized approach to creating the content of your emails, you can make your messaging hyper-relevant to each individual recipient. Even the most objective of data, like a person’s name, age, and location, can go a long way towards customizing their experience with your brand. 

      a laptop showing a personalized email campaign being designed by a marketer.

      Differentiating your messaging, imagery, and content to spotlight menswear to male customers and womenswear to female customers is a perfect example of a simple step that has big impacts on customer engagement. Similarly, you want to make sure your efforts aren’t wasted by serving ads for winter coats to customers who live in a region experiencing a heat wave.

      You need to make sure that the content you’re serving your audience has a significant impact on their lives. If a customer has bought a grill from a home goods brand, suggesting patio furniture is the perfect complementary promotion. Or if a customer has always bought cat-related products from a pet store, steering clear of dog-centric product promotions is the best way to foster brand loyalty. 

      2. Keep Your Email Timely

      Staying informed of your customer’s interactions with your brand in real time is crucial for crafting personalized email campaigns. If you want to offer your audience the best opportunities to convert, you need your emails to be geared towards their current place in the customer journey, and that requires up-to-the-minute data.

      It’s all about serving them the right message at the right time. For instance, utilizing time-sensitive marketing tactics like abandoned cart emails can motivate customers to reengage and complete a purchase. And to make this kind of timely campaign effective, there can be no lag time between your marketing and your commerce data.

      a woman sitting on a couch, receiving an abandoned cart email on her smart phone.

      You need to know which products your customer added to their cart before they clicked away from your e-commerce site, as well as their email open history, so you can send them a message when they are most likely to engage. And that’s just the fundamentals necessary for a personalized abandoned cart email.

      To design an effective and timely campaign, it all boils down to the information you have available. Your customer’s data is actively changing as they interact with your brand, and your email marketing needs to change along with it to offer the right message when it counts.

      3. Craft Dynamic Experiences With Email

      In-app or on a mobile site. On a laptop or in-store.There are so many ways for customers to engage with e-commerce brands. And no matter which way your audience prefers to interact, your email should cater to their desired shopping experience.

      That’s because designing email campaigns can’t happen in a vacuum, unconnected from the rest of your marketing strategy. Your emails need to feel like a consistent interaction with your customers, one that is a logical next step in their buying journey. To do this, you must tailor your emails with deals and promotions that cater to their points of contact, their preferences, and their buying habits. 

      For instance, recognizing a session when a user browsed your site, as well as a separate session when they searched for products on your app, is important data that needs to inform your email marketing. They are distinct interactions, but they are two parts of the same customer experience, and the distinctions and parallels are valuable data points. 

      If a shopper views a certain clothing brand on your site, your emails can encourage them to view similar products from the same brand, or you can recommend similar products that like-minded customers have purchased. And if the shopper has already provided their preferred sizing in an earlier session, your recommendations should reflect that data and only show items that have their size in stock. 

      a woman receiving a personalized email on her phone, displaying special deals just for her.

      Your email campaigns should never stick out as pointless promotions or feel like they are coming out of nowhere. They need to be woven into your customer’s relationship with your business and serve a purpose. They need to be part of an omnichannel commerce experience — one that offers a seamless interaction with your brand. 

      Read Next: What Is Omnichannel Commerce? Definition, Benefits, and Trends

      The Role of AI in Email Personalization

      As we stated before, having access to all your commerce data is the first step in creating personalized emails. But putting all that data into practice requires a massive amount of time and attention from your marketing team  — or the right technology that helps you process it all.

      That’s where artificial intelligence (AI) comes into play. AI can interpret all that commerce data in real time and help you determine where to best utilize any insights gathered from your customers’ behavior. It can analyze your customers’ interests in a fraction of the time that it would take your marketing team to study the numbers, so you won’t be bogged down in the sheer depth of data you have access to. 

      Without an AI-powered solution like Bloomreach Engagement, you’ll be stuck guessing about your customers or overwhelmed by the time it takes to manually process all your commerce data. And getting rid of that guesswork is crucial for crafting email campaigns that are as personalized and optimized as they can (and should) be. 

      With access to the right information, AI can determine the right times to automatically send out emails based on your audience's activity history, factoring in time zones and the personal habits of your customers to correctly calibrate the best time to send out your emails. It can also tell you what content will resonate the most with your target audience, sorting through all their preferences, interests, and inclinations towards particular products to help you make informed decisions about the design and goal of your campaigns. 

      Making your emails as personalized as they need to be requires AI’s unique ability to translate data into insights, and to do it on a large enough scale to make individually tailored emails possible.

      Read Next: 4 Ways to Introduce Artificial Intelligence to E-Commerce

      Why You Need a CDP for Email Personalization

      So, if artificial intelligence is the key to interpreting your commerce data and putting insights into practice, how do e-commerce businesses collect the valuable data needed from their customers? Where does it all go, and how do you keep it all compliant, up to date, and organized?

      To collect and secure your customer’s data, you need a customer data platform (CDP). A CDP creates persistent, unified records of all your customers, their attributes, and their data, giving you a complete picture of your customers on an individual level. It gathers first-party customer data from multiple sources and systems, and links that information to the customer it corresponds with. 

      With all this information gathered and organized, you get a 360-degree profile of each of your customers, or a single customer view, which can then be used as the cornerstone of your marketing strategy. 

      Because when you connect all your marketing efforts with your CDP at the center of it all, you position your brand to be a customer-centric business — a step that is absolutely essential for personalized marketing tactics, including your email campaigns.

      a chart mapping out the difference between a customer-centric approach and a channel-centric approach to marketing.

      Far too many businesses take a channel-centric approach to marketing, which creates data silos and a disconnected picture of the customer. The weakness of this approach is that each team doesn’t know what the others are doing, what they’re focusing on, or when and how they’re engaging with their audience. SMS campaigns aren’t in sync with email campaigns, the retail store and the online marketplace don’t coordinate, and so on. 

      To avoid this, you need to shift to a customer-centric approach. A CDP, or a CDP plus marketing automation solution like Bloomreach Engagement, makes this transition much easier by breaking down silos and giving everyone access to a complete picture of your customer through that single, unified customer view. 

      And for your personalized email campaigns to be as relevant, timely, and dynamic as they need to be, that 360-degree customer profile is a must-have for your marketing team.

      How Email Personalization Starts the Customer Experience

      Creating an easy, meaningful, and inspiring customer experience should be a priority for every e-commerce business. The type and quality of interactions that a customer has with your brand are make-or-break factors in today’s digital market, and email is one of the best tools available for starting that relationship off with a great first impression. 

      When a customer expresses an interest in your business (e.g., signing up for an account, list subscription, or event registration), you have an opportunity to onboard a new customer with an email welcome series that will wow them from the start. By crafting personalized emails that tailor the onboarding experience to their unique needs, you can cultivate a sense that your brand is receptive to their preferences and actions, which is exactly what you want a customer to feel.

      As with every personalized email, focusing on the time, content, and cadence is crucial for crafting the right approach. Laying out the goals of each email in the series, setting the optimal times of each email sent, and determining the content based on the recipient’s interactions with your emails are all important to consider for tailoring your welcome series to each individual user.

      For example, here’s a blueprint for a three-part welcome series you can adapt for your company to onboard new customers or subscribers:

      a mapped out blueprint for a personalized welcome email series that marketers can implement in their email marketing campaigns.

      With a plan like the one outlined above, you can guide your recipient towards the next step in their customer journey while keeping your emails reactive to each choice your customer makes.

      The first email is a generic email that introduces your company, letting them know what your brand is all about and what they can expect from your emails. The second, sent a day later, highlights your brand’s best attributes and encourages the recipient to move to the next stage in the lifecycle journey.

      The next step in the series is dictated by the recipient’s interaction with your emails so far. 

      If they have already made a purchase or moved onto the next stage in the customer journey, you can encourage them to connect with your social media or install your app. If they haven’t yet acted on the previous emails, you can offer them an incentive to do so through a special deal or discount, and then follow up with a suggestion to connect on other platforms. 

      Even with a simple, straightforward level of personalization like this three-step series, you can demonstrate that your marketing is paying attention to your customers’ needs and elevate your customer experience right from the start. 

      And as your customer relationships grow and users opt in for more marketing opportunities, you can craft even more personalized messaging, content, and campaigns that ensure you enjoy a long-lasting relationship with your customers. The more data you have, the more personalized your efforts can be, and your customers can enjoy more bespoke experiences.

      Bloomreach Facilitates Joyous Customer Experiences With Email Personalization

      To get the most out of your email marketing campaigns, you need to give your recipients the best possible experience with your brand. That’s the main objective of any good marketing strategy: to communicate with your customers, not just launch sales pitch after sales pitch at them. 

      Email personalization is the key to hitting that target and sending the best possible message with the best possible promotion at the best possible time. 

      And to get that fine-tuned level of personalization, you need a single solution that offers a real-time customer data platform with intelligent marketing automation. Bloomreach Engagement provides everything you need to build better email marketing campaigns with advanced targeting and AI-powered personalization without sacrificing deliverability and ease of use.

      It ensures that you’re always taking a customer-centric approach to campaigns, utilizing valuable insights gathered from your customers’ behavior, and targeting the right customers with timely, dynamic, and relevant emails.

      Want to learn more about all the transformative ways Bloomreach can help your business grow? Schedule a demo today and find out more.

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      Ian Donnelly

      Content Marketing Manager at Bloomreach

      Ian has years of copywriting and digital marketing experience that he brings to his role as Content Marketing Manager at Bloomreach. With a keen eye for fresh angles and new perspectives, he aims to highlight the endless possibilities available to savvy businesses with cutting-edge digital commerce.

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