Among other developments, the rapidly increasing volume of marketing emails is making it more difficult to keep customers engaged. To that end, brands are hoping that personalized content will help engage prospects while reducing the number of individuals who opt out of receiving communications.
With those points in mind, personalization is likely to be taken to a higher level. In many instances, personalization currently involves analyzing digital behavior to place customers and prospects into certain categories. Rather than create content for each individual, the same communications are sent to individuals within a specific category.
Artificial intelligence, however, has the potential for crafting emails and other content based on individuals’ unique activities. Yet, brands are increasingly aware of their own shortcomings in personalization. In one study, only 10% of top retail brands said they are highly effective at personalization, reports Forbes.
Part of the problem is that brands struggle to combine data from across channels to develop a unified view of individuals. Indeed, Forbes reports that only 14% of companies feel they are strong in generating a single view of individual customers. The end result is that many email campaigns fail, with 91% of consumer unsubscribing from the communications, according to Salesforce, and 44% of direct mail never being opened, according to NewCred.
Using categories for customizing content, of course, has significant limitations. Indeed, categories are typically broad and brands may not create a sufficient number of categories, so content isn’t highly personalized on an individual level. That may be one reason why the Dollar Shave Club emails are written to appeal to men, even though millions of women buy products from the web retailer.
According to Elgibborsms, the company has sent its customers emails with subject lines such as “Here’s How to Manscape Your Butt” and “This is Why Your Pee Sometimes Comes out at an Angle.” By broadening its categories to include women customers, the firm could improve how its content targets individuals. In addition to customizing emails by gender, the company could also create two different mini magazines that the retailer sends to customers when it mails products.
With growing demands for personalization in mind, technology vendors are increasingly pitching new capabilities for customization. Boomtrain, for example, maintains that its AI automates campaigns that can resonate personally with customers or prospects. In one, the technology uses data to assess the ideal time to send emails to each individual subscriber to increase click rates.
The company makes the lofty claim that AI technology has increased email open rates by 228%. Marketing technology provider Kahuna is also pitching services to help brands personalize content. It seeks to help firms develop unified views of customers and prospects by combining data from multiple channels.
The company maintains that its technology can make campaigns feel less like campaigns and more like individual conversations. In one example on the firm’s website, artificial intelligence is used to provide customized communications after a customer downloads a shopping app.
In addition to artificial intelligence analyzing individuals’ activities and then creating personalized emails or other content, new approaches to adopting technology are also being used. For example, outdoor clothing and gear company REI is using geo data to provide valuable information in emails, according to an article from MarketingLand.
REI emails geo-dynamic content that provide descriptions of hiking trails located near each individual’s location. By doing so, the brand ensures that its emails are highly relevant to each customer.