When you think of comedian Louis CK, you probably think stand-up comedy first, TV second, and “contextual marketing” never.
But recently, Louis was the first comedian to ever sell out three shows at Madison Square Garden. In fact, so many people bought tickets that he had to announce a fourth.
And he did it by sending contextually relevant emails.
This isn’t the first time that Louis CK ran a contextual marketing campaign. Three months ago, anyone in the area of Somerville, Massachusetts, received an email announcing three back-to-back shows at the Somerville Theatre in Davis Square… and all those shows also sold out.
The email went out one day before the first show started. The Somerville Theatre didn’t mention that Louis CK was performing there. Not on posters, not in the calendar, not even on the marquee out front.
But it didn’t matter, because Louis CK had contextual email marketing on his side.
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:
Once an email marketing campaign is sent out, subscribers are going to get the content from that time of send – whether they open emails that day or a year from now.
Most campaigns don’t take into account things like time of open, location, or what’s happened since the email was originally sent. But with so many people using mobile devices to check their emails, companies are slowly changing that, working to ensure that emails are contextually relevant whenever and wherever customers open them.
Finish Line, an athletic apparel store with both brick-and-mortar locations and a growing eCommerce presence, is doing just that… and it’s paying off. Over the past year, the company has doubled open rates and grown click-through rates by 300%.
This didn’t happen overnight. As Finish Line experiments with the capabilities of contextual email marketing technology, the business has been rethinking and redesigning email campaigns to make them more targeted and more personalized.
Here are four different campaigns that showcase how Finish Line did it:
Email personalization applications can be a tough thing for marketers to integrate into current email campaigns. It’s still a relatively new technology, which means that contextual marketing features such as countdown clocks, live web cropping, and creative optimization can be hard to implement without the help of a client experience team.
From the technical to the aesthetic, dynamic content brings a new world of opportunities for email marketing, which is why marketers who are just getting started in personalizing emails should learn how to crawl before they start to run. And that means thinking about dynamic email content from the ground-up.
Anyone with a smartphone has done it. You’re checking your email for a few minutes – between meetings, during a commercial, waiting for someone who texted you that they’d be there but is nowhere in sight – and you start mercilessly deleting emails, one-by-one.
Anything that doesn’t seem useful is a candidate for the Trash folder.
And, as marketers are starting to find out, email marketing campaigns are often the first to go. Sure, open rates on mobile devices are spiking. Recent research from Epsilon shows that mobile open rates grew by 6.5% from the past year. But clickthrough rates are falling. Epsilon found that there was a dip of 0.5% in clickthrough rates (dropping from 4.5% to 4%) over the same time period.
A dip of 0.5% in clickthrough rates is no reason to start shouting that the sky is falling and hyperlinks are the main thing dropping out of the clouds. But this points to an interesting trend: it’s a lot easier to get customers to open mobile emails than engage with them.
For many major retailers, this week marks the cutoff for guaranteed holiday delivery with standard shipping. While this may dismay some of your consumers, the good news is that Movable Ink allows you to change the messages in your marketing emails in real time to reflect the latest information–no matter when the email is opened. This minimizes consumer confusion and disappointment while maximizing opportunities for conversions.
Once the online ordering deadline has passed, you can have the message swapped out to include a message about in-store purchases while including a local map showing the closest store locations and updated holiday hours. You can also include a CTA for consumers to send a digital eGift card to people on their list. This adds a layer of personalization and creates a greater user experience for each of your consumers.
Comparing email opens year over year, we saw the peaks before both Black Friday and Cyber Monday hit earlier, indicating customers started looking for deals earlier in the week than in previous years.
Smartphones were the device of choice on Black Friday as opposed to Cyber Monday shoppers preferring to open emails for deals on desktops. Design your emails accordingly, or make sure your emails are responsive!
Although we saw overall preferred devices for each day, device preference as well as email read length varied by industry vertical.
Excentus has spent more than fifteen years developing technology that makes it easy for consumers to save money on gasoline and convenient for businesses to build loyalty by creating value for their customers. Their growing Fuel Rewards Network® program provides members with the opportunity to earn free gas simply by purchasing the things they normally would from more than 1,400 retail locations, nearly 700 online merchants, and 10,000+ restaurants. To date, Excentus has helped more than 25 million consumers save hundreds of millions of dollars on fuel.
Coleman Easley, Email Marketing Manager at Excentus sat down with us to share how they are using Movable Ink to achieve their goals and deliver highly relevant and engaging campaigns at scale.
Movable Ink: Why did you decide to partner with Movable Ink?
Excentus: We are growing fast, we have a good product, and we don’t have a big marketing team. We were looking at tools that would allow us to be more efficient. Movable Ink saves us time and increases the relevancy to every opener. Things like live creative optimization and in the moment targeting are easy with agileEMAIL vs. having to do it on our own. We saved a lot of time and improved in an area we wanted to improve in.
MI: How has it been working with Movable Ink so far?
E: Working with Movable Ink has been great so far. The Client Experience Team is always available, and quick to respond. They share ideas with us, are efficient, timely, and do great work with our team. We appreciate their help for sure.
MI:We’ve been partnered for a few months now, what has been your favorite use of agileEMAIL so far?
E: One of our favorites was one of the first things we implemented with Movable Ink. We had low participation in our Fuel Rewards Network® program across the member lifecycle. After digging in we attributed it to a lack of understanding of how the program works; after all it’s free gas, it should market itself. In April, we changed our “all at once and good luck” welcome email to a new series utilizing agileEMAIL to power five focused, digestible, highly personalized emails that educate members and reward their participation in the Fuel Rewards Network® program. It worked. Fuel Rewards earned in the first month increased 94%, and another 68% in the next month! The success of the welcome series showed we needed to expand our use of agileEMAIL to other programs too.
MI: That’s a great! The end result improved, but how did it impact subscriber traffic?
E:We classify our traffic into two buckets. The first is “low value” traffic which lands on content that isn’t likely to drive a conversion. The second is “high value” which is traffic that lands on content that is likely to drive a conversion. With Movable Ink, we can localize and personalize message content for every member when they open an email instead of trying to do it before we send. Now we can show nearby locations where members can earn rewards and alter the message content and calls to action based on the device they used and rewards available to them. These capabilities helped increase high value traffic by 21% and our click-through rate by 24%.
MI: What are your future plans for agileEMAIL?
E:Right now we are generally sending out one size fits all campaigns. Over the next six months, we are going to incorporate agileEMAIL into other campaigns, especially win-back emails to wake up dormant members. We need to get to a more 1:1 relationship with our members. Customizing the communications over the customer journey is a big deal and we plan on using agileEMAIL to help us achieve that.