Keep it in Context — The Real Time Inbox
The technology available today has revolutionized contact with your customers. Up until a few years ago, email marketing has been a fancy, electronic extension of mailing out a printed flyer. Sometimes they had information about product launches, events, link to coupons and even updated pricing and inventory indicators. But times have changed!
It’s now possible to get your messages to the right person with just the right content, at the right place and at just the right moment. Today, the success of email campaigns is measured by the level of customer engagement they inspire and contextual marketing, sometimes referred to as the real-time inbox, is a way to achieve a high level of engagement.
40% of marketers are using 10 or more marketing applications with various capabilities, yet 75% don’t know how to integrate the applications to achieve a true contextual mailing. Without proper integration, it’s very difficult to take advantage of powerful context marketing tools.
Contextual marketing providers have a lot to offer (Adobe Campaign is one of them). Imagine you had all this information about your customer’s interactions with your company integrated into your campaign:
- CRM data
- customer’s transaction history
- shipping status of current orders
- their site search and navigation history
- predictive analysis data
- in-store behavior from use of apps and iBeacon
- knowledge of when emails are forwarded
- devices used
- loyalty points balance
- loyalty offers redeemed
- current shopping cart contents
What if added to all that data could be
- A/B and multivariate testing
- local weather
- geolocation data (geographic location)
- offers based on time of day
The importance of contextual marketing and the real-time inbox becomes clear, especially when you realize only a fraction of your customers will open your emails. It’s more important than ever to be relevant and targeted to capture as many readers as possible. Numbers vary with the source, but some say only 50% of those who will open your mail do so within the first 24 hours. The rest could wait as much as 12 days before they get around to it. Contextual marketing can help engage customers that might otherwise be lost.
Here are some of the things you can do with the right service:
- Relevant offers based on a recent action
- Updates in an email to show available inventory of an item of interest
- Countdowns for a limited time sale
- An interactive countdown timer in your email that shows when a product is available or when an offer ends.
- Dynamic pricing controls that update an email when it is opened with the latest price.
- Optimizing for different devices. Analytic data shows that people tend to use their Smartphones during the day and tablets or laptops in the evening while at home. Marketers should be sure that their pieces are optimized for any platform and can be read on any device.
- Content can be tailored to the time of day, geolocation, such as when and where the email is opened or even the local weather
- You could target visitors who left your webpage without doing anything with a special offer.
- Your offer gets refreshed when an email is opened (or reopened)
An amazing array of data is available, but it has to be used carefully and thoughtfully. Consumers are still adjusting to knowing that a considerable amount of data is collected about their shopping behavior. The concept of privacy is being redefined every day and there is no absolute measure, but using too much information can lead to a feeling that can only be described as creepy.
Not that many years ago, most of us were shocked when an email started out knowing our first name. Times have changed and there is a lot more acceptance, but a few things are still the same. Your personalization strategy should build gradually for new sign-ups.
- A customer generally wants to remain anonymous for a while when visiting your site, (unless they choose to register and sign in).
- Try to access their interests, motivations, and other signals that could determine what they like.
- Build interest and anticipation by offering a discount for first time visitors.
- In your emails, use the company name of the recipient in addition to their name. Some studies have shown this small addition increased clickthrough rates from about 7.5% to 15%.
- Send a few emails to new sign-ups with minimal personalization and after the relationship has matured a bit, then add other things.
- Start out by personalizing emails with actions the customer took at your website. People assume you know there movements there, but they are less familiar with the idea that you know their location.
It’s an exciting new world for email marketing. Easing your customers into contextual marketing and the real-time inbox can result in increased opportunities for them and more business for you.