As marketing professionals we are both consumers and marketers – we build and drive brands, brand engagement, enquiries and sales, and on the other hand we are purchasers and advocates ourselves.
This means that we both know what we should be doing as marketers, and also what we should be receiving as a customer.
It is an increasingly complex and connected world, and we have access to an incredible amount of resources and data. As consumers we leave a little bit of information whenever we interact online, whenever we click, like, purchase, visit, comment and share.
In the data driven age marketers should be collecting this data, analysing this data and using it to make smarter decisions for our companies, but more importantly, our customers. We should be pulling them towards the brand with relevance rather than pushing content at them.
We know what it is like to receive emails from a company we have purchased from but the content does reflect our documented purchases or our interests. Sending me an email about the latest menswear range is about as useful as sending me an email about the latest in ride-on mowers. Neither are relevant and the company is just demonstrating that they aren’t interested in a relationship, only in a financial outcome. Most customers however, in a world of choice, are interested in a relationship, they are interested in companies who conserve their time and don’t waste it, who make it easy to interact and purchase and consume and provide benefits to them in that relationship.
As marketers it is important that we take the information customers provide us and build meaningful interactions with them and for them.
Personalised emails are merely the start of this strategy – dynamic content is the next step for many businesses.
Broadly, marketers should be employing the following techniques:
- The most basic – collect names, and then use them: it still staggers me that marketers send an email without a personalised salutation – either in the subject line or in the intro copy
- Preference centre – allow your customers to select what interests them if you sell/market/communicate about a broad range of products and services, and then segment your database and content accordingly (don’t ask and then still send them everything)
- Dynamic content – this is where a great ROI can be produced, but be warned, it isn’t for the faint hearted.
What do I mean by dynamic content? Dynamic content is content in emails and on websites that is presented to the customer as a direct response to either their preferences or because of a product they have previously bought or interacted with. Tracking pixels, cookies, journey planning and in-depth product knowledge by your marketing team are key to the success in this endeavour.
It isn’t for all businesses just yet because it does involve set up and maintenance, but if you are a medium to large business with a large portion of your revenue through digital channels, you should start exploring this option for your marketing journeys. In time the technology and platforms will scale to make it easier for small businesses to capitalise on the 1:1 strategy of dynamic content.
At its most broad, as a clothing advertiser, you can display women’s clothing information in the content box of an email for all the females on your subscriber list and men’s clothing for all the males on your subscriber list; however, dynamic content can be much more specific than this.
If a customer has purchased a couch, you can present them with the matching ottoman or a coffee table that suits the style of couch in the next email they receive from you. This isn’t a manual email build – this is part of an automated journey that you should be taking your customer on.
The purchase of X, set up in a category generates a system response that presents Y and Z to the customer automagically. Similarly, you can use predictive intelligence on your website to analyse behaviour, location, recent search terms, and more to deliver real-time, personalised content and purchase suggestions.
If a customer is studying with your organisation and has achieved a certain milestone, you can present relevant email content to them in the form of dynamic content – all students might receive the same ’email’ but the content placed in the email is triggered by their progress and achievements.
What are the benefits of dynamic content? Increased relevance in the eyes of your customer, which in turn translates to additional opens, clicks, engagements and purchases.
And of course, big brands are surreptitiously educating consumers that this is the sort of quality they should expect from brand engagement – Facebook have done it for years with their algorithms presenting what they feel is the most relevant content to us. Google does it when presenting ads to us in gmail, and now the power is with us as marketers and brand and communication custodians, as advocates for customers.
This is about customer experience – create a great one with relevance to show me you know me.