Contextual Relevance in Email Marketing - Is It Data or Content Driven?

With his cool title, it's not so surprising that Darren Vengroff, Chief Scientist of RichRelevance, speaks about the "Science of Email Marketing." However, I like that idea - in that email marketing must be technology and data driven, even if you are trying to create a powerful creative experience.

Wacarra Yeomans of Responsys said that designers in the email space need to also be part data management expert. The idea of using templates is not new to email marketing, but the advent of more dynamic content technologies will continue to transform email marketing in the coming year.

"In the past year, the technology has finally caught up to what email marketers really want to do - like bringing in content from various sources," Wacarra said.

"There has not been a Teutonic shift, but the rate of innovation of marketing technology is advancing," Darren claims. "Thinking about every segment as having one member - a unique combination of interests and behaviors."
Of course, that combination changes with every interaction. So the goal is to create an experience in the moment that speaks to the immediate needs and interests of the customer.

Email marketers can be artists and not just scientists with the new technology," said Vivek Sharma of Moveable Ink, which produces dynamic content widgets for placement in email messages. "Some of our customers are creating thousands of creative iterations of a single message."his area of content curation is central to subscriber experience, relevance and response.

As someone who believes that email marketing will only be successful if you use all the data that you have, I'd like to see the personalization technology do more with propensity than just with behavior. I want to know what someone is likely to do, rather than just what they have already done. Darren from RichRelevance does not view social sentiment or propensity as central to the task of dynamic content. "If I'm just a prediction engine, I am not generating any additional sales," Darren says. "What I want to do is put an offer in front of you that encourages you to buy more, or more frequently."

So is dynamic content more about the data than the content itself?

I think it's more about the responsible use of data and the automation. Content matters, of course! And the offer must be right. But this dependency has always been true for data-driven marketing - where driving response is 50% about the list and 25% about the creative and 25% about the context. (I made up those percentages, but you get the idea.) "the List" is what dynamic content strategies create - that nirvana of "segment of one."

Great panel discussion, led by the indomitable David Goetzl of Mediapost! Thanks.


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