Email marketing, once viewed as something of a pioneer in segmentation and personalization, has largely remained an essential, if unexciting part of the marketer’s toolbox, despite the disruptive innovation that we have seen in other marketing channels. Now though, email looks set to take center stage once again as marketers explore how to use real-time data to serve dynamically targeted emails, based not just on a consumer’s historical profile, but on their actions and behaviors at specific moments in time.
Before considering how that might change everything we understand about email marketing, let’s look at two recent reports that suggest why the time is right for fresh innovation in email marketing.
Innovation in Proven Channels.
A recent report from Yesmail highlighted at Marketing Land, suggested99 percent of marketers are increasing, or at least maintaining their budgets this year. While they are keen to invest in innovative technologies however, they may not yet be ready to trust in some of the newer trends, preferring instead to rely on proven channels.
- Just eight percent of marketers surveyed said that they currently use virtual reality technologies, with more than half doubting that virtual and augmented reality was relevant to their brand.
- Nearly half indicated that they thought their personalization efforts were weak, with two-thirds indicating a desire to improve email personalization.
- As a consequence, more than two-thirds (68 percent) said that they intend to “invest additional attention and resources” to email this year.
Email it seems is looking like a ripe target for innovation right now.
Mobile Engagement is Increasing.
Meanwhile a report from MessageGears suggested not only are consumers increasingly likely to open an email on their mobile, they are also significantly more likely to engage with an offer.
Graphic source: MessageGears
As this graphic from the report illustrates, email opens on smartphones are catching up fast with desktop. Of even more significance to email marketers is the proportion of clicks from marketing messages, which have swung from desktop dominance in early 2015 (68.5 percent against just 23.4 percent) to smartphone by the end of last year (47.5 percent against 41.7 percent).
As we already know smartphone usage, particularly amongst the younger generations, is soaring. Whether due to larger screens or more responsive designs, we are becoming more comfortable opening and engaging with emails on our mobiles.
Add in a reported rise in app abandonment and you have an ideal scenario for the marketer who wants to target consumers on the move with dynamic emails.
Tailored messages and customized webpages are of course nothing new. Marketing automation and smart content have long been serving consumers with personalized messages and content. Those actions though are usually triggered by something that has already happened.
But what if marketing automation, CRM, and a touch of creativity could deliver a real-time email call to action based on current actions?
- You click on something in an email campaign or on a website and get an immediate email that says, “Hey, don’t you want to buy that now?”
- You look for a voucher code on an old email, find it’s expired and have a new one drop into your inbox.
- You make a purchase in a physical store and receive an email that suggests accessories or other products you might be interested in.
- You trigger an in-store beacon and see an email notification with a discount code.
The potential to dynamically target consumers based on real time actions, in addition to previous behavior, gives marketers huge new opportunities. I’d be remiss not to mention the positive impact these micro interactions will have on your email deliverability. Email and mobile enhance that opportunity. The consumer may not have downloaded the brand app, but they are almost certain to have email and are increasingly likely to check their inbox on the move.
One temptation marketers and brands will have to counter will be that of bombarding users with personalized messages and running the risk of landing in the spam folder.
Writing at Media Post senior vice president at MPP Global, Scott O’Neill, points out along with the ability to target prospects, “Comes an immense responsibility: not only to ask prospects just what would make things easier for them, but what level of engagement they’re comfortable with. The key is not to use these tools so often that it begins to make people more conscious of your strategy than of your value-add.”
“Using data intelligently, and in a privacy-safe way” he went on to say, “isn’t just about shooting adverts to whoever walks by or mentions your name on Twitter; it’s about asking what those metrics mean, and whether you need more information before assuming interest.”
In other words, dynamic messages need to be relevant and timely to be effective.
The Future for Dynamic Email Targeting
Emails are being opened on mobile, consumers are willing to trade data for deals, and the technology is in place to get the right message to them, at the right time, and in the right place. The conditions would seem to be favorable right now and the future looks exciting for dynamic email marketing.
Dynamic targeting is set to change a lot of perceptions about the value of email marketing. It will be interesting to see how creative email marketers can be in using it to supplement and enhance their current marketing campaigns. What are your views on what dynamic email marketing might bring to the party? I would love to hear your thoughts.