How to Move to Personalized Emails for New Subscribers
More than half of retail marketers claim that email drives the highest percentage of revenue for their business. However, as consumers’ mind-sets and preferences evolve, so must our email marketing tactics. Sending mass-blast marketing emails is no longer enough to cut through the noise. Using some level of personalization is now a must when communicating to consumers.
Email marketing generates return on investment in various ways, but it's most effective for retailers for growing customers and driving sales conversions. We know that 80 percent of consumers are more likely to buy from retailers that personalize communications specifically to their interests and behavior. Retail marketers have found success by using customer data (e.g., products purchased and browsed) to offer shoppers what they really want.
But what about those subscribers who are new to your list and haven’t provided you with much data yet? It’s not enough to use a customer’s first name in an email and think it will make them feel special. In fact, research shows that as many as one in three consumers don’t care whether brands use their names in marketing emails.
Let’s take a look at simple ways to engage subscribers at scale even if you just have their email address.
A Smart Welcome
Welcome emails are a great opportunity for retailers to make a strong impression early in the relationship to keep the new subscriber engaged and opening future emails. They're also a good way to collect more data about the subscriber. Many retailers find it valuable to create a series of welcome emails to introduce the company, product range, a special welcome offer, etc., rather than trying to cram everything into one message.
To make the experience even more personal, retailers can set up a smart campaign that's reactive to the recipient’s behavior. For example, retail marketers can create a workflow that reacts to whether a new subscriber opens or clicks through from the email, the email content they engage with, and then turn off the welcome series once the subscriber has made their first purchase.
Real-Time Data Powers Dynamic Emails
Consumers’ needs and interests change based on their location, device and time of day, so retail marketers should reflect that in their email campaigns. Real-time data is the key to recognizing what’s important to shoppers now in order to motivate them to make a purchase later. Using contextual email marketing allows retailers to auto-populate emails with the most relevant content at the moment the email is opened. Most common use cases find retailers customizing the email based on the time of open, location or weather forecast.
Shoppers use different devices for different tasks during the day – they might scan their inbox on their phone in the morning while still in bed, do some online browsing in the office during their lunch break, and make a purchase in the evening on their couch. An easy way to acknowledge this is displaying a different header image based on the time of the day. Retailers sending time-sensitive content during a flash sale will also want to stay relevant no matter when the email is opened. They can accomplish this by selecting alternative content to cater for email opens after the sale has ended.
Retail marketers should also deliver different email creative based on the location. If a retailer is selling products that customers prefer to try before they buy or if they want to drive more footfall to their physical stores, retailers should leverage the subscriber’s geolocation to show content that’s relevant to the place where the email is opened. They can also include information such as the address, opening times, contact information and a map of the nearest store, or promote upcoming store events, such as workshops and sample sales.
Retailers should also show specific banners or product recommendations based on the weather forecast at the subscriber’s current location. For example, umbrellas can be promoted when it’s raining and sunglasses when it’s sunny. This tactic is especially useful when sending emails during times of the year when weather conditions can differ greatly within your target market – think L.A. vs. Chicago in December. Adding an actual visual weather forecast to emails is another way to add value and help shoppers identify the most relevant products.
The most effective personalization tactic focuses on behavioral data and is based on the shopper’s latest actions. Retailers should put data that’s already been collected about the subscriber to good use in emails. Even if the retailer can’t refer to previous purchases yet, they can make sure to capture and use website browsing behavior. Insights can be leveraged by examining products, brands and categories viewed or items left in the cart to send shopping recovery emails, inform product recommendations (e.g., "people who viewed that also viewed this"), or let customers know if an item they looked at has dropped in price or come back in stock.
At the end of the day, the goal of personalization in email marketing is to provide customers with content tailored to their preferences in order to catch their attention and keep them from simply skimming past your email, or even worse, deleting it because the content feels irrelevant. Equipping yourself with the tools to provide that experience to each subscriber, no matter if they’ve been shopping with you for three years or signed up for your emails five days ago, will be what takes your email marketing to the next level and drives revenue for your business.
Mike Austin is co-founder and CEO of Fresh Relevance, a personalization platform to boost ROI.