Personalization is all around us. From the suggested article we read on our morning commute, to the series we watch before going to bed. Almost every touch-point on the web is telling us what to read, watch or click on – based on our personal needs and interests.
With the help new technologies and software, marketers are now able to harness the power of personalization – across touch-points, channels, and media. No matter which marketing predictions article you read – it’s clear that 2018 will be the year of personalization.
Among the various personalization tactics, email personalization is one of the most sought-after. This article explains the why’s and how’s of email personalization, as well as what’s next for email personalization – with a special focus on the data-harnessing capabilities of interactive content marketing.
Why email personalization?
According to research by the Aberdeen Group, 96% of organizations believe that email personalization can improve email marketing performance. Here’s why:
1. Email marketing is here to stay
With so many new digital channels emerging every day – one might argue why use email at all? Shouldn’t have gone the way of the dinosaur? Well, not quite. In the US alone, more than 90% of adults use email. And surprisingly, millennials are not far behind. 73% of millennials prefer email because it’s “part of everyday life.” But it’s mobile first.
And consider this: while platforms like Facebook change their algorithm to reduce organic reach to 10% and lower, 90% of emails are delivered. According to McKinsey, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring customers than Facebook and Twitter.
So email is still a highly lucrative way of reaching and nurturing your audience. That said, the average office worker receives 121 emails every day, most of which are ignored, unopened or deleted. By personalizing emails, marketers can make the message more relevant to the reader – thereby making it stand out in the inbox and attracting more opens and clicks.
2. Higher open rates
Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened. – Campaign Monitor.
Once the email is opened, the reader is presented with personalized email content and links. The keyword here is relevance – honoring the user’s time with articles, offers, solutions or products that suit her needs and cater to her pains
3. Lower unsubscribe rates
“Content was irrelevant”. That’s the number one reason why people unsubscribe from email lists. Untargeted emails are missed opportunities. It’s better to send fewer but more targeted emails, than blasting out irrelevant content that annoys readers and prompts them to hit the dreaded “unsubscribe” button.
4. Improved deliverability
In terms of email deliverability, low open rates are a clear signal to ISPs that your recipients are not engaged with you, your brand or your content. That lack of engagement is a factor in the delivery of future emails and can even lead to your campaigns being blocked. Making emails more relevant improves your open rate & CTR – in turn positively impacting your email deliverability.
5. More sales
Higher relevance = more engagement = more sales. Using data about email recipients, marketers create segments based on needs, pains or preferences – and then send emails segment-specific offers. For example, a segment called “Young Moms” might receive an email about 20% off select kids jackets while another segment called “Men 18-25” might receive an offer on the latest sneakers.
According to DMA, marketers have found a 760% increase in email revenue from segmented campaigns. Investing in email personalization can have huge payoffs – and one tactic definitely worth exploring is combining the email list growth and data-capturing capabilities of interactive content with email marketing.
How interactive content marketing empowers email personalization
Interactive content is content that actively involves audience participation with the objective of engaging, entertaining or educating them about a certain topic. Typical forms of interactive content include quizzes, assessments, calculators, interactive videos, personality tests, product-suggesting tests, interactive e-books, interactive story-telling, and games.
Why interactive content?
The answer lies in the name itself – interactive. Designed to create a personal, immersive experience, interactive content goes beyond simply reading or watching content and requires audiences to choose preferences, answer questions, assess, vote, play or compete.
Formats like quizzes, personality tests, solution builders and calculators give the user valuable personalized feedback, that is worth filling out a small lead form for. The data from the form is then combined with the user’s current and future interactions to develop rich customer profiles. Marketers can then use these rich profiles to create segments and send highly personalized emails to their potential customers.
1. Grow email & leads lists
Lead-gen is not what it used to be 5 years ago. Back in the day, you’d create a decent-looking e-book or white paper, and the leads would fly in. But today, audiences have so much content to choose from – much of which is of sub-par quality.
Consequently, the perceived value of traditional content like e-books isn’t quite what it used to be; which is why marketers are turning to new, alternative ways to generate leads – such as interactive content.
Interactive content is typically quick-to-consume forms of content that give the user a personalized experience or results. For example, imagine a basic personality quiz like, “What kind of marketer are you?” The user answers 7 fun questions and then sees his/her result, which is 1 of 4 possible marketing personality types.
Example of a quiz that captures basic lead info before seeing results
How does it capture leads? It asks the user to enter her name and email address before she can see her results. There are many ways to generate leads with interactive content, you can read all about them here.
2. Capture rich profile data
There are loads of ways to capture data about your potential customers. The most common of which are web forms that the user must fill in exchange for some premium content. This usually entails long lists of fields including things like name, email, phone number, company name, company size, role – etc. This is contact information that people don’t enjoy filling out – resulting in unreliable data for the marketer.
On the other hand, interactive formats ask for less information in lead forms. Instead, they capture insights from what people answer in quiz questions, calculator responses or navigations in interactive videos – capturing information about the individual’s needs, preferences or business challenges.
Using interactive content platforms like Dot, you can capture information about every interaction the user makes – whether it’s clicks on CTA buttons, content completion rates, answer to questions or data entry in web forms.
When a user fills out an opt-in or lead-gen form on any of your interactive content, she is then turned into a trackable contact. Thereafter, all her past and future interactions with your content are logged under her contact profile.
The example below is from a fictitious company called ‘Pace Learning’ that offers culinary courses to chefs and professional cooks.
It illustrates how the potential customer – anonymous visitor 4034 – is engaged by an interactive content asset (in this case, a quiz contest) that converts him into a trackable Contact – John Smith. John is then nurtured with an email with additional interactive content (recipe lookbook) that reveals where his interests lie. Each content asset John interacts with paints a clearer picture of who he is – his interests and needs.
3. Create smart segments
Let’s look at the “What kind of marketer are you?” example one more time. The user answers 7 fun questions, fills out a short form (name and email) and then sees his/her result, which is 1 of 4 possible marketing personality types. Instead of using an 8-field lead form, this quiz asks only for 2 pieces of information (name and email) and instead draws key information from the user’s quiz answers. For example, what success means to the marketer, which software they are most familiar with, etc.
The 4 personality types are as follows: Creative Genius, Analytical Marketer, Social Media Wiz and Lead-Gen Machine. Based on which personality type they got, each quiz taker is put into one of 4 segments in an email marketing platform (like MailChimp). Each user is then sent an email based on their personality type. In this way, the marketer can capture valuable information about each user, in a less-intrusive way and send personalized emails.
In this example we use personality type as the factor for segmentation. You could also use answers to specific questions – for example when the user fills out information about their current costs in your savings calculator.
What you need to make it happen
- A clear strategy: Know what kind of interactive content would work for your audience and what kind of data you want to capture.
- Email marketing software (like MailChimp) or marketing automation software (like HubSpot)
- Interactive content marketing platform (like Dot.vu)
Conclusion: Combine two affordable technologies – interactive content marketing software and email marketing software for marketing that is much more targeted to match individual needs. Use Interactive Content like quizzes, assessments, interactive videos or contests to capture leads and segmentation data, then automate targeted emails per segment.