7 ways to keep email subscribers engaged with real-time personalization (Part 1 of 2)

With the growing prevalence of social media, mobile, and email marketing, a consumer’s digital experience can seem endless in this day and age. And retailers are following suit in order to keep up with their customers, making it a top 3 priority to integrate email with other digital channels in 2016. As a coffee lover, a major brand I interact with nearly every day is Dunkin' Donuts, my daily morning coffee stop before I head to the office. To stay up-to-date on their latest seasonal coffee flavors, donut creations, and product promotions I’ve “liked” their Facebook page and also follow both @DunkinChicago and @DunkinDonuts on Twitter. Since I’m a frequent purchaser, I use their mobile app for convenient in-store payments, while earning rewards points at the same time. In addition, the mobile app sends me push messages on a regular basis with updates on my points balance and exclusive mobile-only offers.

While I do love the perks on the app and updates on social media, one place where I personally would like to see more Dunkin' Donuts content in line with my overall digital usage and purchase history is in my email inbox. I check my email regularly for work and for personal reasons, therefore receiving personalized promotional and informational content as opposed to actively seeking out content would be a welcome change, especially for those hectic days when I’m not on social media.

How real-time personalization makes email marketing more relevant  

One way to tailor a custom email communication uniquely relevant for me, is by incorporating real-time content based on a combination of data points ranging from my purchasing habits to the time of day and location I’m at. My purchase behavior is different from anyone else that walks into the Dunkin’ Donuts on Adams and Wells in downtown Chicago at 8 AMs, in order to a buy a large coffee with skim milk and paid-for via their mobile app. All that information and any other relevant data collected based on my historical activity with the brand can be valuable content components for an email message targeted to me. As an example, a possible Dunkin’ Donuts email promo message for me would include:

  • The Who – The data that we have on an individual as a customer drives the content direction for the email recipient. (Steve True)
  • The What – The email offer in the email should be dynamic and unique to me, displaying relevant content or promotion that acknowledges I make regular morning coffee purchases. ($1.29 Bagel mobile coupon)
  • The When - The time I usually enter a Dunkin' Donuts store and the time I will likely open an email should be factored into the email deployment. (8 AM)
  • The Where – The physical location where my email open takes place. (Adams and Wells, Chicago)
  • The Why – The reason for me to open an email. (Upsell on a food purchase to pair with the coffee that I regularly buy)
  • The How – The device I usually access my email on. (iPhone 6)

By taking all these items into consideration, there are a number of real-time email personalization components that can be applied to send a truly individualized email communication to Steve True.

Let’s look at some of those components and walk through how they can be applied to an email in real-time with my favorite coffeehouse as an example:

Countdown timers

Live Countdown Timers is a simple, yet highly effective concept that applies a countdown timer in an email that continues to process regardless of when a recipient opens and views the email. Once the countdown timer has elapsed, an automated block of replacement content will take its place. By incorporating a real-time countdown timer into the email, a sense of urgency is created for the customer to take action and click on the email. The added visuals grabs attention and can lead to up to a 78% increase in click through rates. With Dunkin’ Donuts for example, the morning email I receive from them could take advantage of the countdown timer and make the offer valid between 7AM – 11AM, which would then likely compel me to add a breakfast bagel purchase with my regular coffee since it gives an impression of a one-time only offer.

Real-time social feeds

The next example of incorporating real-time content in email is via a social feed. As mentioned above, I am a follower of multiple Dunkin' Donuts twitter feeds. If these feeds were consolidated into a single communication channel in an email message for example, my social interaction with Dunkin' Donuts would be much more streamlined, thus saving me time from having to open multiple twitter pages to view different feeds. By having a live feed of Dunkin’s Donuts social media channels like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Youtube or Pinterest page in the email itself, it makes it a one stop shop for everything I need to know about Dunkin’ Donuts social media activity.

I’ve just shared the basics of real-time personalization and the first 2 ways marketers can implement this form of effective email personalization to their email program. Check out the second post in this series, where I share the remaining 5 ways marketers can take advantage of real-time email marketing.

Author Bio

Steve True

“I am lucky enough to be a part of the team on the ground floor, helping design and develop our latest cross channel campaign management platform, Yesmail360i. I am excited to share the platform with prospects and clients alike to showcase how a single view of their customers can help solve their marketing challenges. At my core I am a data geek who gets excited about easy access and visualization to endless data sources that can drive the personalization and targeting of digital deployments. By supporting new business opportunities I get to travel all over the globe to showcase this exciting new technology and truly change the landscape of the digital marketing industry. When I am not doing that, I am working my darnedest to raise my one year old daughter and her future sister to be long suffering Cubs fans. I also enjoy a beer and a shot of bourbon on occasion…”