Many years after its inception and early use, email personalization still represents a significant opportunity for retailers today. To be specific, retail marketing teams can use customer data to create more effective campaigns that offer better — more personalized — experiences for customers and prospects.
In turn, these enhanced experiences pay off where it matters most: increased clicks, conversions, sales and profits. Consider the evidence:
- “Personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%.” (Aberdeen)
- “Up to 74% of marketers report that targeted personalization increases customer engagement. Additionally, marketers see an average increase of 20% in sales when offering personalized experiences.” (Econsultancy)
- “Personalized emails deliver 6X higher transaction rates.” (Experian)
- “Real-time targeting using open-time and live business-context data delivers a 13% improvement in email revenue.” (The Relevancy Group)
Deep down, most (if not all) marketers know this and realize just how valuable email personalization can be. According to a Forrester Research study, 68% of retail executives reported that “investments in driving personalized experiences” is currently a top priority for their organization. Another survey of 100 retailers found that “developing personalized marketing capabilities” ranked as the second-most important strategy.
So why the disconnect between what marketers know they should do — which is proven to produce better results — and what they’re actually doing? In other words, why aren’t more retailers embracing email personalization?
Bumps In The Road
Like most other examples of untapped potential, the answer is a complicated one. However, it is important to note that any challenges are rarely related to employees. For the most part, marketing teams want to use any and all available tools at their disposal — including personalization — to be as successful as possible.
Yet unfortunately, most retailers face a number of real obstacles that make personalization difficult. For example, e-Commerce solution provider Monetate uncovered a number of challenges that prevent retailers from achieving true one-to-one personalization. In a recent report, Monetate found that retailers struggle with issues such as internal constraints, automating decisions at scale, data quality, building the right overall architecture and more.
Additionally, personalization strategies and technologies — and the effort required to achieve success — have come a long way. Gone forever are the days when using “Dear <FIRST NAME>,” or adding one custom data field to the subject line would make all the difference. Consumers are much more sophisticated and have many online shopping options to consider. If they don’t see what they want, exactly when they want it, chances are that they’ll be gone — and may never return.
As a result, marketers must “up their game” to differentiate themselves and their organization. This now includes implementing advanced email personalization tactics such as embedding animated charts for rewards and loyalty programs, live pricing and inventory feeds, custom offers, videos, images and many other inbox experiences. In other words, they have to use personalization to its full potential to deliver the perfect experience customers and prospects demand.
Considering all of these challenges, it’s not surprising that most retailers admit that they could be doing a better job. The same Monetate study cited above also found that 10% of respondents confessed that they were “not doing any personalization,” 28% reported that they were “just starting out,” and 56%stated that they were “in process” of rolling out personalization strategies and tools.
Like the old saying suggests, every challenge is simply an opportunity in disguise, and this is true for email personalization. It’s not too late for retail marketing teams to embrace personalization as a new competitive advantage.
Stella & Dot Uses Personalization to Achieve New Results
This level of increased engagement is exactly what retailer Stella & Dot was trying to achieve recently, especially since its attempts at personalization weren’t working perfectly. For example, consumers could interact with up-to-the-minute product photos on Stella & Dot’s web site, but in email, the imagery quickly became dated as new posts were added. Additionally, sometimes products in emails were not available under a promotion after the email went out, which led to frustrated customers.
To overcome these challenges, Stella & Dot implemented real-time email personalization. This technology now lets the retailer showcase its gallery of shoppable, user-generated Olapic images and offer one-to-one messages that highlight recipients’ known items of interest. Additionally, because these emails rely on moment-of-open data, if inventory ever sells out or a promotion expires, the email pulls in another example of fresh, relevant content.
As a result, Stella & Dot is able to create a contextually relevant experience for its entire customer base and has seen a 3.3% increase in email click-through rates. Not only has this helped to overcome occasional frustrations, but it enables the brand to significantly increase customer engagement and loyalty — important goals for any retailer today.
Transform Personalization Into A Sustainable Competitive Advantage
Today, the competition for consumers’ attention (and wallet) is at an all-time high. Clearly marketers need to do all they can to stand out and provide the most relevant customer experience possible. Many retailers are finding success with advanced personalization strategies and tools. Using real-time behavioral data and creating new experiences in the “moment of open,” these retailers are achieving new levels of success in email metrics, but more importantly, achieving new sales, revenues and profits.
Justin Foster is the co-founder and vice president of market development for Liveclicker, a global provider of real-time email personalization solutions for B2C marketers.
 Aberdeen, “B2B Social Media Marketing: Are We There Yet?,” April 27, 2015.
 Econsultancy, “The Realities of Online Personalization Report,” April 2013.
 Experian, “The 2015 Email Data Quality Trends Report,” 2015.
The Relevancy Group, “The Value of Personalization,” (sponsored by Liveclicker), January 18, 2018.
 Forrester Research, “Key Retail Tech Investments in 2017,” March 2017.
 RIS/Gartner, “Retail Technology Study: Reconnecting with the Consumer,” March 23, 2017.
 Monetate, “2017 Personalization Development Study,” 2017.