Commentary

Ramp Up Your Personalization Strategy: 5 Key Takeaways From EIS 2018

Reflecting on the recent MediaPost Email Insider Summit (EIS) in Park City, Utah—filled with discussions of email best practices—I found personalization was the central theme.

Developing one-to-one personalized experiences has become the North Star for brands. Steve Smith, MediaPost’s vice president, editorial director of events, found that "40% of marketers at the event claimed they don't do any personalization at all," based on a survey taken prior to the summit.

Even well-known enterprise-level brands are still strategizing how to achieve a personalized customer experience.

Here are five considerations for success from highlights at EIS:

Accessing clean data is difficult. Data often lives in different systems, which means brands need a well-planned data alignment strategy. Experienced, trusted partners can bring together your first-party, third-party and affiliate data to build a robust view of customers across all of their touchpoints and devices.

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There is still inconsistency on the definition of personalization. At EIS we heard everything from “a single view of the customer” to “customized product recommendations,” all the way to “connecting the customer experience through all stages of their lifecycle.” Each brand ultimately needs to define what personalization means to their business and how that will impact the customer journey.

Personalization fatigue happens if you prioritize your wants over the customers’ needs. Brands often spend too much time personalizing emails for the sake of personalization. This not only drains resources but also causes messages to fall flat if they aren’t delivered in a relevant timeframe.  

Brands need to truly understand the customer, using multiple data points to create personalized messages that they actually find useful.  

For example, if you send abandon cart emails, also consider the customer’s other site experiences, like a video she watched or a product she compared. Using that information in the personalized triggered email can create a more relevant experience for the customer. Consider how you can solve your customers’ problems and enhance their experiences rather than implementing a tactic that is only enticing for the internal team.

Personalization is most effective at a human level. When done right, it creates a true relationship with the customer.

Emily Randall, Interactive Digital Media, Chick-fil-A, noted: ”We don't believe we are even in the chicken business, but the people business… When you know someone's story, you can care for them personally."  

This resonates with email marketers, because personalization is the most effective way to understand what the customer needs and deliver them the most relevant solution.

The “crawl, walk, run” mentality holds true. Although this concept is not new, it is still very relevant to both brands and marketers. 

An effective personalization strategy often starts small. Create a roadmap that will allow you to deliver personalized emails and measure outcomes along the way. Once you get started, you can make adjustments as needed.

You can begin “crawling” by leveraging website activity to trigger enhanced abandon browse emails. “Running” could be taking a closer look at how augmented reality can influence the content you send to consumers.

Marketers need to think big in terms of vision, but start with the little things — and test, test and test again. Personalization is a journey, and taking these steps you will move you toward delivering on a better customer experience.

The email industry has come a long way from the time when simply plugging in a first name was considered a “personalized” email, but there still is lot of work to be done. As you develop personalization strategies for this year’s marketing plans, ensure that you put the customer’s needs first. Make a list of everything you would like to achieve, and assess what will have the greatest impact on your customer's overall experience.  Everything you do should be focused around gaining and growing a lifetime relationship with the customer.

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