The following blog post was written by Corey Haines, Marketing Manager at Cordial.
Last decade’s competitive differentiators like placement, product, price, and promotion have disappeared. Today, brands have moved on to compete on customer experience, brand equity, and ultimately brand loyalty. This shift offers incredible opportunities to engage, delight, and convert new shoppers into life-long advocates.
And personalization is the catalyst to creating tailored customer experiences that set you apart from the rest.
Analysts, such as Gartner, have shared remarkably compelling statistics about personalization. They sent shock waves through the marketing industry when they reported, “By 2018, organizations that have fully invested in all types of personalization will outsell companies that have not by 20 percent.” And, “By 2020, smart personalization engines used to recognize customer intent will enable digital businesses to increase their profits by up to 15 percent.” Twenty percent and 15 percent are nothing to sniff at – percentages of that magnitude could catapult you far ahead of the competition.
Steve Jobs once wisely observed, “A lot of times, people don’t know what they want until you show it to them.” Let’s take a look at the state of personalization with brands today.
Segmentation doesn’t equal personalization
85+ percent of consumers report that personalization plays a role in their purchase decisions. Clearly, consumers recognize that personalization provides them with more enjoyable and relevant experiences. Bypassing personalization is not simply a matter of missing out on an advantage, it’s actually putting your organization at a disadvantage.
And many brands are still utilizing an age-old method, only partially utilizing personalization.
To respond to the growing need for personalization, and due to limits of legacy technology, marketers have historically turned to segmentation. As technology has evolved, and marketers more eager to collect more and more data about their customers, the number of segments greatly increases and the size of each segment gets smaller and smaller.
Instead of just a few segments based on basic data points, marketers now have 10, 20, or maybe even more segments. While it seems like progress, marketers still need a way to send a personalized email to each person in each segment.
This forces marketers to create multiple email versions for each segment, resulting in five or even ten times the amount of work of a single email. It’s simply not scalable, and thus, a limiting factor to being able to create tailored customer experiences at scale.
Taking a programmatic approach to personalization, you can create a single email template that queries customer behaviors and events in real-time to build a unique email for each person at the time of send. Instead of manually creating multiple emails for different customer segments, you can let the “machines” do the work and dynamically create a unique email for each person.
This method removes the need for labor-intensive, manual email curation and truly scale 1:1 email personalization. So instead of hand-curating six different emails for six segments, you can curate a single personalization-enabled template.
Old school vs. new school
Programmatic personalization also allows you to drastically cut down on time and resources needed to produce a campaign. Creating a repeatable and scalable process to engineering email campaigns is the key to achieving true personalization, and as a result, a consistent, tailored customer experience.
Within the segmentation model, a massive amount of time and investment is spent on campaign creation and approvals. Usually, the process looks something like this:
- The tech team pulls customer segments based on a predefined set of criteria, combining data from multiple sources.
- The marketing team writes multiple versions of the email copy for each segment and collects the necessary assets.
- The creative and design team designs the emails.
- The marketing team secures approvals.
- The emails are built and tested for quality assurance.
- The emails are sent.
- The whole process repeats
This method for engineering email campaigns can take weeks, with marketers often planning up to three months in advance to get things done in time.
Using next-gen technology makes this process immensely quicker and easier:
- The marketer creates audience segments within the platform using real-time data from their stack.
- An email template is built that pulls in relevant customer data.
- A unique email is sent to each customer in each segment.
In contrast, this method for engineering email campaigns can be executed in days, as opposed to weeks.
Engineering email campaigns the new way
It’s clear why today’s customer-centric brands have to reinvent the way they engineer email campaigns:
1. To stay competitive and adapt to shifting customer behavior, brands must focus on doing marketing that cultivates tailored customer experiences, brand equity, and ultimately brand loyalty.
2. To keep up with the ever-accelerating pace of customer behavior, brands must adopt a quicker and more programmatic way to build and send emails in days, not weeks.
And these two benefits give way to more opportunity to integrate more advanced personalization methods that may not have even been possible before.
It used to be that personalization began and ended with first name personalization in an email, with data and information being collected about your customers through preference centers or other data sources like list appends. All of that is a old news.
Fast forward to today, and the golden age of personalization provides much greater insight into customer intent and needs. So dig in, and reinvent the way you engineer email campaigns to fully leverage personalization.