5 Ways to Take Your Email Personalization to the Next Level

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Today’s brands have their work cut out for them when it comes to personalized marketing. In fact, 72% of consumers say they now only engage with messages tailored to their interests. Consumers are also very distracted—95% are doing other things while shopping and 66% are watching TV, working, or socializing while booking their next vacation. They’re being bombarded with emails and messages all the time, making it incredibly challenging to capture and keep their attention. And all of these trends are amplified even more over the holiday season.

The pressure has never been higher for brands to excel at personalization. Marketers must now be cross-channel, highly relevant, and real-time and open-time aware to engage consumers and keep them loyal to their brand. Activating live customer data and generating compelling content at the moment of interaction is key to doing all of this successfully and cohesively—and that’s where these next-level email personalization ideas come into play.

Try the below tactics (many of which are leveraged by joint SmarterHQ and Movable Ink clients) to boost your email personalization efforts, deliver in-the-moment experiences, and drive valuable, long-term customer engagement:

1. Retarget customers using relevant category or brand content blocks.

Increase personalization with in-email content blocks that display products in real time based on customers’ cross-channel behavior and history. Use these blocks to retarget your customers with content based on the products, brands, or categories they’ve previously engaged with. 

DSW is a brand that effectively leverages product-related content blocks to deliver deeper personalization to its customers. For example, once a site visitor indicates interest in the Kelly & Katie brand, an email is triggered based on browsing behavior. Then, brand-specific blocks are displayed within the email showcasing retargeted (and currently in stock) Kelly & Katie products, automatically updated the moment the customer views the email.

2. Trigger brand or property abandonment campaigns with live pricing

Real-time content such as live pricing can help create urgency with cross-channel customers, especially those in a crucial stage of the purchase funnel. Step up your standard abandonment emails by first ensuring they take into account omnichannel activity—no one wants to receive an email for an item they already bought in-store or a trip they booked via the app instead. Then, incorporate real-time content such as live pricing to push distracted or cost-conscious customers to complete their action before prices change. 

For example, Hilton uses live pricing for property abandonment to drive urgency and deliver in-the-moment personalization. When visitors reach a property page but do not convert, an email is triggered to defined abandonment audiences displaying the specific property imagery, booking details, live pricing, and even TripAdvisor ratings for that hotel.

3. Showcase inventory-related messaging within behavioral emails

Speaking of creating urgency, another great way to do this is to pull live inventory-related messaging directly into your emails, such as “Hurry, Only XX are left!” Do this by showcasing items specific to your customers’ browsing, booking, and/or cart activity, and display real-time inventory counts underneath for products that are low in stock—or back in stock but low in inventory—to prompt customers to take quick action.  

Inventory urgency can be challenging for marketers since it relies on product availability and capturing the right customers’ attention. To facilitate this process, SmarterHQ powers product-inventory aware and interaction-aware triggers that directly integrate with Movable Ink’s live inventory checks. That way, marketers can easily retarget to specific audiences with this content, include “sold out” labels, or even show alternate visuals when items are out of stock.

4. Display intelligent product recommendations specific to each customer

Take your promotional and triggered sends to the next level by automating 1:1 product recommendations within your emails. These “Amazon-style” recommendation blocks are based on a customer’s combined online and offline behavior and purchase history, and they feature real-time product and pricing updates—even if the customer opens the email days later.

Sam’s Club excels at personalizing their promotions with intelligent product recs, using an individual’s behavior and history to create customer-specific or complementary product recommendations that pull in images and prices at the moment of open. Not only is Sam’s Club exceeding their personalization goals with this tactic, but they’re also reducing email production time drastically from 14 hours to under four hours.

5. Drive urgency with sale mop-ups and countdown timers

Last but not least, boost email personalization (and conversions) during a big sale or promotional event with what we call “sale mop-ups” and countdowns. This involves automating ad-hoc emails targeted only to those customers who have shown interest in items nearing the end of their sale period—keeping the content highly targeted and personalized to those who are more likely to purchase.

Drive a sense of urgency with customers who have browsed heavily, carted multiple times, or carted and abandoned before or during the event with an email that a) informs them that the sale is almost over, and b) features the specific sale items they interacted with. Adding in dynamic content such as a countdown timer to the top of the email (or even inventory-related messaging—see #3) offers a visual cue to hurry up and buy those items before the sale ends. This strategy can be incredibly successful in motivating customers to take action during the busy, promo-heavy holiday season, too.

About the Author

Kara Holthaus is the VP of Client Services at SmarterHQ. SmarterHQ is a personalization platform that makes it easy for marketers to increase revenue now and customer relationships over time by powering highly relevant, cross-channel experiences. Learn more at SmarterHQ.com and connect on Twitter at @SmarterHQ.