When you’re watching a TV show on Netflix and Netflix automatically recommends another show that looks good, you don’t really think before you click it. The content is so relevant to you, so targeted to your interests, you know you’re going to like it.
Netflix is built on this model. By crunching data from 44 million subscribers, the company has created a contextual marketing engine that delivers 76,000 different genre types, offering genres as obscure as “alien films from the 1970s.”
By sending these recommendations in real-time, Netflix isn’t just delivering the best show, recommended for your individual preferences – the company is actually creating contextual marketing campaigns and targeting them on an individual basis.
Netflix has created marketing that’s so seamless that it’s built right into the experience. Every time you click a recommended show, you’re clicking an ad.
That’s a pretty big deal, considering customers really don’t like traditional marketing. Forrester found that less than a quarter (22%) of consumers trust emails from companies or brands, only 13% trust ads on web sites, and only 32% trust ads in any channel.
What customers do trust is utility and experience… and that’s why contextual marketing is so important today. Just ask Uber.
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:
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.
Yesterday at the 2014 Inbox Love conference we got an exclusive demo of Google’s New Inbox by Gmail app. Inbox is Google’s new application for desktop and mobile devices that was released last week. Shalini Agarwal, Senior Product Manager, Gmail Inbox, shared what Inbox is all about at Inbox Love, as well as some valuable insight into the Gmail teams thinking on the future of email clients. She stressed that Inbox’s development will be driven by user feedback and that Google wants it to become a major platform for organizing communications and daily life. To add on, Agarwal confirmed that Gmail and Inbox will continue to be developed separately, and hinted that at some point in the future the features from Inbox may start to merge with Gmail.
So with that, let’s dive in to some of the key points to get ready for Gmail Inbox. Inbox was created on the tenant that inbox placement and relevancy was more important than the time an email was sent at. Agarwal commented several times that “email starts with the user and we built Inbox with the end user in mind.”
The Gmail Team tried to make an easier way to organize and manage email with Inbox. It starts to bring some of Google’s search engine DNA into email as well (although this wasn’t stated outright). When you search for “Puppies” on the Internet, you don’t get the last thing some random person posted about “Puppies.” You get a categorically scored page that matches the search term. With its new management and organization features, Inbox puts a further burden on marketers to send relevant email, instead of potential junk or spam mail. It also opens up new content opportunities that marketers can use to their advantage.
Agarwal pointed out several key features that really make Inbox stand out as a go to option for email.
Highlights: I thought this was one of the better features of Inbox. “Highlights” lets you see message content, including images and videos, right from the main inbox screen. When you hover over a message, you can swipe across the screen to see the messages content. This capability, like Grid View, represents an opportunity for marketers to make an impact by surfacing highly engaging content that their subscribers can digest and engage with quickly.
Bundles: The “Bundles” feature of Inbox lets users group messages together based on similar content. Today, Gmail has tabs and labels to help do this. When you click on a bundle, it expands the list so you can see all the emails that came in in that category. For example, you could set up a “Travel Bundle” and have all your flight, hotel, and rental car info available to you in the same place.
Snooze: Just like it sounds like, Snooze lets you hit the pause button on emails and set a reminder to look at it again. Swipe the message to the side and it automatically brings up a window to set a reminder time, or a later date. You can also send the message to the trash too.
Reminders & Assist: This is a neat little feature built into Inbox. You can create “Reminders” within Inbox, and its “Assist” feature will automatically attach other useful information to the message, such as an email, address, phone number, and hours of operation. With Reminders, users can essentially create a virtual to-do list. With a simple click, for example, you can create a Reminder to set up a dinner reservation, or call your boss on an important topic.
Pin: How many of you have tried to save an email for later? Some life hacks for this have included marking a message unread, putting it in a folder, flagging it, or changing the sort order of your email. Inbox has a decent solution for this problem. The “Pin” feature let’s you “Pin” an email to the top of the inbox. There is a toggle at the top right that lets you show pinned messages only when it’s flipped on. Never lose key emails again, just “Pin” them.
Overall, Gmail Inbox is a big change from the traditional email client but it’s on to something. We’ll post updates and tricks for Inbox as we learn more as well. The only way to get Inbox by Gmail today is through an invite from a current Inbox user or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to request an invitation. If you have questions or if we can help, shoot us a note at email@example.com.
Yesterday Apple announced that Apple Pay will arrive on Monday October 20th along with the iOS 8.1 update. This is exciting for marketers and further puts an emphasis on the ever-growing importance of mobile. With Apple Pay, consumers can complete purchases by simply scanning their finger on their iPhone (6 or 6 Plus) or iPad (Air 2 or Mini 3). It’s being championed as the solution that will start the consumer shift to mobile payments. But what does that mean for you, especially for your email program?
We’ve cooked up some potential email Apple Pay integration ideas that could be possible through agileEMAIL when iOS 8.1 is released on Monday. With agileEMAIL, you can target by operating system and optimize content for the device it’s read on. These are key capabilities when driving usage of a new mobile payments solution.
1.Use Email To Drive Participation with Apple Pay.
There’s a land rush now to be the first payment provider in Passbook. When a subscriber running iOS 8 opens up an email, target them with a message to add a payment method to use with Apple Pay. Deep link from the message right into Apple’s Passbook where the subscriber can scan in their credit or debit card using the iPhone’s or iPad’s camera.
2. Click To Buy Buttons In Email
Fewer clicks and less data entry mean more purchases. Click to purchase buttons aren’t new in email, but now you can link your emails to Apple Pay and remove steps on the path to conversion. After clicking in an email, take the consumer right to the shopping cart or straight to the checkout page where they can use Apple Pay. Working towards this will reduce clicks and abandonments on mobile.
3. Geo-Target Subscribers Near Stores That Accept Apple Pay
iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users can take advantage of Near Field Communication (NFC) to use Apple Pay to complete their purchase at the store, rather than pulling out their credit card to swipe. Use agileEMAIL to geo-target consumers, displaying local maps or lists of nearby locations that accept Apple Pay. You can even provide a coupon to add to Passbook to redeem in stores that accept it. This can be a highly engaging way to capture that user and drive clicks to bricks.
On Monday when Apple Pay launches, keep in mind that not all iOS 8 users will be able to use it. Plan your campaigns accordingly. We know this much though – demand for devices that support Apple Pay is high. Over 10 million iPhone 6 and 6 Plus units were sold on the first weekend these devices were available and by the end of the year they’ll be sold in 115 countries. Furthermore – the iPad Air 2 and iPad Mini 3 launch alongside iOS 8.1 on Monday. Apple Pay has the potential to be a huge hit.
Click here for a demonstration of how agileEMAIL will help you take advantage of Apple Pay. If you have any questions, we’re glad to help. Contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.