Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Task Your Email with the Heavy Lifting

Email offers brands a great opportunity to connect with current and potential customers. Yet 49% of respondents in a recent study said a brand has inaccurately targeted them. Of those receiving an incorrect message, 88% took action:

● 42% immediately unsubscribed from the brand’s marketing content.

● 24% blocked brand content across social media.

● 22% opted not to purchase from the brand again.

Clearly, accurate personalization matters. But your email personalization is only as good as the data you have available. And since email subscribers’ interests and preferences can change, it’s critical to implement good data hygiene practices for optimal results.

Think about the first time you collect data from a customer. Chances are, you gather preferences when someone initially signs up for emails. Then track on-site behaviors and interactions. Many brands also send periodic emails requesting that subscribers update their preferences — but doing so requires the recipients to take action themselves. How many people take time to update their preferences throughout their relationship with your brand? 

Probably not many.

Yet every interaction, touchpoint, and brand experience provides marketers with valuable data to inform personalized efforts and customer profiles or personae. Email content provides the perfect opportunity to build a picture of individual customers based on their engagement behavior over time. It’s an easy lift for you — and requires even less effort from your customers because you’re capitalizing on actions they’d likely take anyway.

Use email content to build individual profiles

Personalization boosts email performance. Generic emails either get sent immediately to the trash or the recipient may opt out of future communication, severing any relationship with your brand. But relying on customers to update their latest styles or preferences isn’t a realistic expectation. Fortunately, there’s a solution.

Leverage your email content to make it work for you.

Updated, accurate customer data is critical for marketers. Because the more you know about each customer, the more effectively you can personalize their experience with your brand. This data goes beyond their gender, birthday, or most recent purchase. Ideally, you want actionable data collected in real-time.

Progressive profiling

Progressive profiling enables you to gather data to build individual profiles based on the customer’s behavior. This strategy allows you to create more robust customer profiles about their demographics, interests, needs, and pain points. But best of all? Without requiring recipients to complete a long list of fields.

For example, if someone visits your website and wants to access a white paper, you might ask them to share their contact information in the request form. With progressive profiling set up, should this person revisit your website in the future and ask for another downloadable resource, instead of typing their contact info — like name and email — they would share more specific information. And if they visit your website a third time to request a product demo, the third form in this progression would ask for their role in the company and a budget range.

Dynamic web forms allow you to use a direct or indirect approach. Direct profiling asks recipients to answer a question and provides an easy way for the reader to respond — generally by clicking a button. The system collects and records the information, adding it to the customer’s existing profile. Indirect profiling requires creating a link category for each link within the email copy. The system uses click category information to gauge and record interest — and update the existing profile.

The beauty of progressive profiling is that it empowers you to build a picture of every subscriber, via email content, based on their engagement behavior over time. Using multiple interactions to gather and add preference data over time prevents customers from feeling overwhelmed by too many questions to answer or forms to complete.

Progressive profiling offers a host of benefits:

● Facilitating the creation of personalized messages by leveraging the information you’ve collected to create lead-nurturing campaigns targeting specific individuals or segments.

● Helping qualify leads more effectively by gathering different information to build out more complete, accurate customer profiles in real-time.

● Growing conversion rates by reducing the number of fields in lead generation forms, increasing the likelihood more people will provide the information you’re requesting and hit the submit button.

● Enabling marketing teams to craft more personalized messages and create campaigns designed to appeal to target segments.

Indirect profiling 

Not many brands use indirect profiling effectively — that is, clicks in email as interest indicators. This strategy doesn’t ask direct questions. It simply offers customers an option to click on the most relevant content. And when used well, it’s super effective in collecting information to refine email personalization further because each customer response adds more insight to their profiles.

Here’s how indirect profiling could work:

Your marketing team creates an email advertising a clothing sale. It offers a “shop my size” section, inviting readers to click the size they want to shop for. That single click gives you instant knowledge about the person’s clothing size. With progressive profiling, you could send a follow-up email a day or two later featuring specific items available in that customer’s size. It’s not just a great revenue opportunity but also — thanks to the personalization — a fantastic customer experience. 

Let’s look at another example: a company offering products across multiple categories. One recipient clicks on women’s clothing and returns to the email to click on shoes and accessories. Now you know the customer wears a size 12 in Gucci skirts and a size 8 Prada shoe and browsed Coach handbags. You can use this data to customize offers, generate specific email journeys, and send personalized content created specifically for them. 

Email campaigns using progressive profiling help you target customers based on data collected about their recent activity, behavior, and preferences. Eighty percent of customers are more likely to purchase from brands offering personalized experiences. Organizations using advanced personalization generate 17% more revenue through their ad campaigns.

Investing in building relationships with customers along their brand journey enables you to gather and use data to create and deliver content specifically tailored for them.


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Cynthia Price
Cynthia Price
Cynthia Price is the SVP of Marketing at Litmus. Her team grows and supports the Litmus and email community through content marketing, demand generation, and events. She has been in the email marketing industry for over 10 years, and was previously VP of Marketing at Emma, an email service provider. She's passionate about creating authentic communications and harnessing the power of email — the heart of the marketing mix.