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Avari Blog

Email 2018 Trend Alert: Personalization Is Hot

[fa icon="calendar"] Feb 18, 2018 / by Sandy Hathaway


Back in 1996, Microsoft’s Bill Gates first proclaimed that “content is king,” and he wasn’t wrong. Fast-forward nearly 20 years and content remains significant, but more important still is the kind of content.

As email marketers, we know this better than anyone; the content we create is key to establishing connections, engaging our audiences, driving conversion rates, and increasing revenue. We are all working to improve our content and we are all sending more and more email as we compete for share of the inbox. In reality, the biggest concern marketers face today is the risk of audiences drowning in a deluge of irrelevant content.

It’s essential, now more than ever, that the content we create and distribute is relevant. That’s the only way to cut through the email clutter and be a memorable brand. And consumers are eagerly anticipating this improvement.

A survey conducted jointly by digital marketing platform Listrak and market research company Harris Poll found that “Americans who read promotional emails find it helpful when retailers send emails featuring products based on past purchases (80%) and online browsing behavior (71%).”

Among their findings was also the fact that 82% of consumers admitted they would be more inclined to buy additional items from a shop if the emails they received had further personalization. That same percentage of respondents also said that receiving more emails each week from the same store would be fine, provided the contents of the emails made relevant suggestions based on transactional history.

In response to these statistics, 78% of marketers surveyed as part of Econsultancy and Adestra’s Email Marketing Industry Census 2014 predicted that within five years, all email will be integrated and personalized, though not necessarily automated. The report also found that “one in three companies are already engaging in content personalization, a 27% increase from last year, with 37% planning to include this as part of their email marketing activities.”

Not surprisingly, this consensus on the direction of email marketing has shifted priorities for many marketers, so that issues such as automation and mobile optimization are not the most important focus areas anymore (although mobile considerations will heavily influence content strategy). In 2018, targeting, personalization, and content optimization are the key topics.

For example, David Moth, Deputy Editor at Econsultancy, emphasized some of the more noteworthy findings from Quarterly Digital Intelligence Briefing: 2018 Digital Trends, including the fact that targeting and personalization are the highest priorities for marketers this year, followed closely by content optimization and social media engagement.


This information is also supported by the Forrester Research Q3 2014 report, the results of which were summarized by independent email marketing consultant Jordie van Rijn. Key findings include the fact that marketers’ most anticipated email innovations going forward are micro-segment targeting (66%) and open-time personalization (61%), two areas which speak directly to the need for and desire to provide relevant content within emails.

It’s easy to see all the benefits that email personalization brings, and clearly the desire is there, so why aren’t more businesses doing it already? According to a 2014 study by Conversant Media and Forrester Research, 97% of marketers in B2C companies acknowledge the desire for long-term implementation of highly personalized content, but most admit that they use limited techniques. That same study also found that 66% of marketing executives struggle with affording personalization technology, while 65% have found it too difficult to build or integrate on their own.

Let’s compare statistics with reality. A few days ago, KISSmetrics came out with yet another helpful blog post called “6 Email Personalization Techniques That Go Beyond a Name.” Consistent with the KISSmetric content approach, the post is very practical with examples and meant to immediately help readers get going. Despite this, here are a few things the author advises: ask questions and do surveys, create customer personas, segment your list by location and time, and set up an automated email scheme with behavioral triggers.

All of those activities sound really promising. No question, they add value. However, they also require a lot of work. Surveys need unbiased questions, a significant sample size, and a statistical conclusion to have true (versus imagined) relevance. A behavioral triggering scheme needs an architecture and then someone to build it. And usually, an investment in a marketing automation platform is required.  

It’s pretty obvious that’s where the problem lies. Historically, the barriers to adopting personalization have been significant. Fiscal, technological, and human constraints are nothing new to the email marketer. And therefore, better personalization has been regarded as out of reach.

At AVARI, we recognize the hurdles to implementing new technologies in email marketing. That’s why we are delivering Dynamic Content 2.0 differently. AVARI is a Predictive Recommendation Engine with Open-Time Personalization—built so that anyone can use it, within their current marketing technology stack.

AVARI technology allows marketers to send a single email campaignvia any email service provider or marketing automation systemthat could potentially result in millions of different outcomes. Every recipient will see a message that is filled with relevant dynamic content at the moment of open: predictive content and products, live social feeds, segment-based lifecycle offers, and more. It’s the ultimate in email personalization.

Less than a year ago, Michael Brenner, Head of Strategy at NewsCred, said, “Welcome to the age of personalization and what may be the new battleground in marketing.” He also referenced a joint Forrester and SAP study, in which 70% of marketing executives agreed that personalization is strategically important, as it impacts retention rates, lifetime value of customers, advocacy rates, and conversion rates of promotions. In conclusion, if this is the battleground year for personalization, then I guess you could say that AVARI is a pretty effective weapon for competitive email marketers to have in their arsenal.

Would you like to learn more about predictive, dynamic content (Dynamic Content 2.0) and email personalization? Check out our white paper: CTOR REVIVAL 2018

Topics: Email Personalization

Sandy Hathaway

Written by Sandy Hathaway

As CMO of AVARI, I create conversations around the exciting new frontiers that all CMOs must now adventure into or be left behind: the use of data science, machine learning and behavioral insights to optimize and personalize B2B and B2C experiences.

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