Marketing Personalization

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  • Marketing Personalization:

    Let the DataDo the Work

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    Marketing Personalization: Let the Data Do the Work

    You can execute some really effective email and mobile marketing campaigns if youre collecting and using the right customer data. But if you arent getting the data part right, your personalized interactions wont be very personal; they could even hurt your business.

    What sort of data should you be collecting? When should you collect it? What campaigns can best leverage that data? And what are some real world examples you can use to guide your efforts?

    Were glad you asked!

    A new deal of the day site carefully and correctly gathered thousands of email addresses and used the list to solicit businesses for deals to post. As the marketing team sorted through the options for its first email blast, one offer stood out an 80% off coupon for a service. It was the best discount the site had available, and it seemed like a great way to keep people subscribing and clicking on to the sites daily emails.

    Except it wasnt.

    The offer was for hair waxing a service used mostly by the female portion of the sites email list. And the offer came months after the company first started collecting email addresses. Men didnt even remember signing up for the daily deal site when the bikini wax offer landed in their inbox.

    Instead of loads of clicks and lots of happy customers, the company got a slew of requests to be removed from the email list, as well as spam complaints. Instead of growing the company, the email blast temporarily crippled it.

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    Taking a batch-and-blast approach to sending email can result in a poor user experience, rising unsubscribe rates, lower sales and potentially more abuse complaints and blocks by Internet Service Providers (ISPs). If you can segment your list and customize emails effectively, you can drive revenue instead of driving it away.

    The key is to leverage the data that a subscriber provides along with data from their interactions with your brand to create relevant messages that are sent in a timely manner. Just creating separate messages by gender can have startling results, as online shoe retailer Hudson Shoes learned. Their campaigns that were segmented by gender had 5 times the conversion rates of messages sent to the entire list.

    Build a Better Email List and Manage It

    Before you can segment customers for successful campaigns, you need to look at how you are building your email lists and managing the data coming from those lists. Complicated opt-in forms, cluttered data fields and out-of-date web forms can all defeat your efforts.

    You already know there are multiple ways to gather email addresses at the point of sale, on your website and via social media sites. To create effective, personalized email campaigns, you will need more than just an address. But if you ask for too much information too soon, you risk having potential subscribers abandon the opt-in form. Ask for too little, and you will have few options for personalizing email marketing messages.

    You need to customize your forms to match the way the customer is connecting with you and then gather additional information as they become more engaged with your products and services.


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    Here are a few things to keep in mind:

    Keep it simple. Place a single field opt-in form on your homepage and within your universal navigations. Ask for no more than an email address, zip code and maybe the subscribers birth year. Consider adding a pop-up to gather emails from people who are visiting but not subscribing.

    Ask for more information at the right time. After someone registers, look for activity such as a purchase, that would trigger a welcome message use that activity to gather a bit more information by including a short questionnaire on product or communication preferences.

    Build through cross channels. Collect email addresses as part of the in-store receipt process, and educate sales and call center staff on ways to communicate the value of joining your email program.

    Let subscribers manage their preferences. Consider an opt-down feature that allows subscribers to choose a lower messaging frequency as an alternative to unsubscribing. This can improve deliverability metrics.

    If you already have a large subscriber base, take the time to review your collection processes before embarking on any segmentation activities. If you dont trust the data, it is difficult to feel comfortable with more advanced email marketing approaches.

    To gain that trust, consider these five steps:

    1. Review Web Forms. Are they up to date? Active? Eliminate forms youre no longer using and review the ones you are to make sure they require only the most important data for targeting. Unnecessary questions can result in subscribers abandoning the form. A womens clothing site doesnt need to ask about gender, but a sporting goods store might benefit from knowing which sports subscribers play.

    2. Evaluate Data Fields. Spot-check your database for any duplicate, old or unused fields. You dont need first name, last name and full name. Remove unnecessary fields.

    3. Retire Old Lists and Segments. Do you have a segment you no longer use? Are there old lists for campaigns that have been retired? Clean up old list options and remove any outdated segments.

    4. Remove Old Test Sends. Purge these regularly.

    5. Download Your Database. Scrubbing your data will require some work, but you will greatly decrease the chance of using incorrect or obsolete field information for personalization, dynamic content and segment building.

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    Create Highly Personalized Campaigns

    Now that youve done the basics, its time to start looking at more advanced techniques to ensure your offers are relevant, you arent spending too much creating them and you are keeping valuable subscribers engaged.

    RelevanceHas the customer expressed a preference for athletic gear? Purchased only during the holidays? Browsed the sales site repeatedly? Using order, browsing and expressed preference data is critical to creating personalized emails. If product-level data is not available, sorting by something as simple as gender can be used to produce an email that more specifically targets a subscribers interest.

    A great example of relevance is to segment gift givers individuals who buy once or twice a year, and not for themselves. You can find these subscribers in a number of ways:

    Add a checkbox at checkout asking if the item is a gift.

    Manually identify customers who place orders with billing and shipping addresses that differ.

    Look for customers who buy in categories that differ from their gender.

    Segment these subscribers and exclude them from your general marketing or branding mailings and instead use the list during holidays to drive them back to your site. Gourmet food company Farmison & Co. created a segment for gift buyers as one of their four holiday segments for personalized messaging. It contributed to a 160% increase in revenue year-over-year.


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    AutomationSetting up emails that are automatically triggered by certain subscriber data is a great way to generate revenue with minimal ongoing work beyond the initial set-up. Do you have a customers birthday? Send a birthday email with an offer. Set up a re-engagement program that automatically emails customers who havent purchased or browsed on your site.

    Other automated, database-triggered programs to consider:

    Welcome Series. Deepen engagement from the first contact with a series of emails that encourage new subscribers to go from one-time purchasers (or new subscribers) to regular shoppers., a jewelry and gift company, experienced a 48% revenue uplift with this type of series.

    Abandoned Shopping Cart Notifications. You were so close to the conversion, but then they left your site. Take advantage of that and create automated campaigns that send reminders to those with items in their carts. World Kitchen got shoppers to reclaim 2,000 abandoned carts in a three-month span with a three-part automated series.

    Refill or Replenishment Emails. If you sell a product that people need at regular intervals (vitamins, dog biscuits, copier ink, etc.), consider creating automated email campaigns tied to the estimated point at which the person will run out of the product. SHAR Music, a music instrument supply firm, created an automated reminder to musicians to replace their strings six to eight months after their last purchase. The program averaged a 40% open rate and 12% click rate.

    EngagementYou need a clear view of your engaged and disengaged subscribers to better target communications that speak to their level of interest and behavior. Create segments based on engagement levels, and develop programs to keep your best customers shopping while reactivating those who are non-responsive.

    Focus on the following areas:

    Once Active, Now Dormant Customers. If a customer was previously active and then went dormant, do a little investigation. Were their carts filled with items youve since discontinued? If those items are back in stock, youve got an opportunity. When Brooks Running Company relaunched a discontinued shoe, it sorted its customer database to find people who had bought the product online and crafted an email targeted to them. The result: An open rate of 43.39%. Compared to their average marketing message metrics, click-throughs were 530% higher, the conversion rate was 503% higher and the average order value was almost 8% higher.

    8%Higher average

    order value

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    One-Time Purchasers. Think ab