Netflix knows what kinds of TV shows you want to watch next. Pandora plays obscure sub, sub-genre music you would never otherwise know you loved. Amazon recommends everything from books to spatulas, while Google and Facebook create a custom-tailored experience just for you.
It’s no coincidence that some of the most recognized brands today have started personalizing content and product recommendations. In a digital world that’s crowded and noisy, personalized content helps customers create their own journeys, from start to finish, and make sense of the nearly infinite offers being sent to them on a daily basis.
In 2014, contextual email marketing made major strides in personalization. This year, we’re sure to see even more dynamic campaigns as email marketers work hard to personalized content that speaks to their customers on an individual basis.
To reflect on the different ways companies can personalize emails for customers, we collected five examples that show the different kinds of email personalization that companies are implementing:
Most email marketers have made a habit of greeting recipients by name in their emails, but not nearly as many have started implementing subscriber names into the creative itself.
This can change both the look and feel of an email and create a more seamless experience. FreshDirect, for example, sent out a deal that was personalized with the subscriber’s name front and center in the creative.
This builds an immediate connection between customer and brand that can prompt engagement and loyalty.
Some personalized email campaigns show the location of the nearest store within the email, helping customers make the most of limited-time offers, events, or rewards points. On Black Friday last year, for example, Steve Madden launched an email marketing campaign that had the location of nearest stores embedded within the email.
By personalizing for location, Steve Madden helped make it easier for customers to go from opening the email to walking into a store – especially customers who opened the emails on mobile devices.
The Knot, a premier wedding planning and media company, knows that wedding plans and gifts are different for every couple. By adding subscriber names and individual wedding dates to the products within each email, The Knot helps customers visualize what each product could look like without even going to the website.
The business also ensures higher click-through rates by optimizing the emails for different devices and positioning a “click-to-call” button accordingly on mobile screens.
With real-time personalization, businesses can create content for specific variables like the local weather. That’s exactly what AutoTrader UK did. By sending newsletters with driving tips that were related to the local weather, the company increased click-through rates by 93%.
This is a great example of dynamic email content that’s only displayed to the most relevant subscribers… and drives big results.
4. Device Detection
Sprint didn’t just use device detection to create responsive emails that formats email design for every device, the company personalized the copy to offer whatever product that the users didn’t have already.
Whenever the email was opened on a Galaxy S5 phone, the recipient would get an offer for the Galaxy Tab 3 with a “Buy Now” button. If users were opening the email on an older Galaxy phone, the email showed an offer for the Galaxy S5, with an “Upgrade Now” button.
Like Autotrader UK, Airbnb leveraged real-time weather to inform the content of their email campaigns. In this case, Airbnb targeted users in colder climates with promising deals of warmer locales. By personalizing copy, images, and deals that were relevant to the user’s context, Airbnb helped guarantee that subscribers would be more interested in the deals.
The Year of Personalization
Analytics tools, mobile-first email applications like Google Inbox, and the increasing adoption of mobile devices for email are creating new opportunities for marketers. These trends are building an ecosystem that is perfect for contextual marketing and personalization… but less than perfect for the batch-and-blast methods of yore.
As more brands start personalizing emails for a recipient’s context, those that don’t will be ignored at best and reported as spam at worst. In 2015 there’s really no difference between spam and an email with an irrelevant offer.
Want to learn everything there is to know about personalization and how brands are creating emails for customer context? Download our eBook, “Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Contextual Marketing.”
Want to see how brands like Yahoo, Hyatt, and others are using context in emails? Check out The Inkredible Five: Winter 2015.