As Ometria’s email marketing consultant, I work with a wide range of ecommerce businesses—from multi-country retailers to independent boutiques, fashion labels to furniture giants.
What do they all have in common? The desire to give customers marketing experiences they’ll love.
In an age of ‘digital bombardment’, understanding who your customer is, the marketing channels they use, the content they want to receive and the best time to deliver this content is essential to achieving this universal goal.
No matter what you sell, personalised marketing is a must in today’s ecommerce reality—with the amount of contact information available, relevance is now key to achieving the highest engagement and ROI for every marketing activity you put in place.
Below, I’ve taken a look at how today’s marketers are harnessing both well-known techniques such as segmentation and more advanced practices like dynamic content to provide customers with the best experience possible.
(N.b. To remind yourself of the difference between segmentation and dynamic content, check out this blog post.)
Ready? Let’s begin.
Getting segmentation right
In the case of email marketing, both automated and broadcast campaigns should be planned with personalisation in mind—and—most importantly, these campaigns should be planned together.
As per our Consumer Consensus, email is still the number one channel customers prefer to be contacted on by brands. However, consumers surveyed also said that their number one frustration with marketing emails is that they ‘receive too many’ of them. This was followed by receiving emails with 'products that are not of interest’.
So avoiding bombarding recipients with non-targeted messages is key. (Sounds obvious, I know, but you’d be surprised how few brands personalise the content of their emails.)
Instead, if you want to make your customers happy, make your marketing communications (a) of interest and (b) consistent across different channels. In order to achieve this, you need access to all of the customer data available, and for this data to be stored in one central place.
Access to the single customer view doesn’t just increase your chances of getting your marketing right, but also helps you to avoid epic but oh-so-common retargeting fails—such as promoting discounted items that the customer bought recently at full price, or ignoring the fact they haven’t opened your emails in months.
Now more than ever, retailers can’t afford to deliver this kind of bad experience. As ecommerce expert Paul Boudet pointed out in a recent blog post, customer expectations are increasingly high, and you need to nurture the trust each contact has given you when they opted-in to your marketing.
Mastering the art of personalisation also ensures you don’t ‘pollute’ your customer base; if you have customers who you know are loyal/frequent buyers, why give them a discount? (Unless as part of a reward of a VIP programme...) You could easily only give an incentive to leads yet to make their first order, or to lapsed customers who you’re trying to win back.
By using segmentation and dynamic content, you can control the different types of content different customers see when they open your emails—and therefore protect your ROI.
Question is: where do you start?
Choosing your segments (and personalising your content)
The first step is defining which segments you want to target: determine the different customer groups that will receive variations of content, and choose your criteria.
Customer data can range from basic demographic information (e.g. country, city, age, gender, etc) to lifecycle stage (are they a lead, active, at-risk or lapsed in the buying cycle?) to VIP programmes (loyalty points or membership?) to product affinity (bought from hero product category?). The list goes on.
With all these segmentation layers in mind, think about your most important customer groups: who brings you the most revenue? Who buys most often? Who has recently shopped (and who’s become lapsed?).
Segmentation can be either constant (e.g. if you’re a multi-country retailer, you’ll probably have static translated headers and footers in your emails, with links to each country's store) or it can be variable/dependent on the customer—e.g. if you have a membership programme or a VIP programme, you’ll probably want to speak to those customers in a different way to the rest of your audience, so you can decide to have an extra banner to show them their current loyalty points.
You can then think about how you'll tailor the content; for example, by gender (featuring different hero images for female vs male) and/or opting to use a personalised product recommendation engine to power your suggested products.
These are all examples of dynamic content, personalisation and segmentation; contacts will see the header and footer in the right language (and linking to the right store), they will see a different hero image based on gender, and—finally—will be recommended product recommendations based on their product affinity.
Reporting on dynamic content and segmentation
The next step is deciding what you need to be able to report on.
If you’re going the extra mile to create different content for different segments, you will definitely want to measure the effectiveness of that effort.
The example of translated headers and footers simply covers the basics in personalisation, and you won’t necessarily need to measure anything as far as that content is concerned.
… You will, however, want to measure the performance of a different image or different product recommendation engine you send to your customers, as will need to prove it’s worth doing that extra work. For example, things to measure might include:
- How did each segment interact with the email—was there an uplift in engagement by being more personalised?
- What proved to be the best recommendation engine out of those tested?
(...And so on.)
The results will affect how you setup your automation campaigns and build your broadcast campaigns, so always think about the best way to ensure you’ll be able to report on each of the customer segments you’re targeting.
Finally, the fun part: you get to decide on what content you’re going to promote and differentiate for your customer segments. Think about what you’d like each of these segments to see or read, what copy adaptations or subject lines you can personalise to ultimately make your communications exciting and relevant!
Want to read more posts by Rita? Check out: