OK, everyone! Are you a marketer? If not, please get up from your desk, stretch your legs, get a cup of coffee.

Still with me? Well, now that it’s just us marketers in the room, come closer. Shh— I want to talk about a dirty secret I bet a lot of us share.

We’ve heard a lot about the ubiquity of data and the power of personalization in marketing. We’ve admired (and maybe envied) some successful retailers or other businesses who’ve pioneered data-driven marketing and commerce. And, we all know we shouldn’t batch-and-blast our customers with unwanted email or shotgun marketing messages—but, gosh, it’s so easy.

On the other hand, cultivating a personalized relationship with a customer and giving them a reason to come back to you isn’t easy. It takes time, and it takes a willingness to pay attention to your customer as an individual. It sounds a lot like running an old-fashioned corner store, doesn’t it? Well, it kind of is. But in the online world, it also takes investment in the right sort of technology to be able to do it on a large scale.

Three things I learned about personalization 2.0

So, when we’re talking e-commerce, how do you move your marketing from batch-and-blast to individualization? SparkPost recently hosted a webinar about “Personalization 2.0” with Forrester Research’s Brendan Witcher and our own Jose Santa Ana. In the webinar, these experts shared their vision for Personalization 2.0: seamless customer engagement across an entire ecosystem of touch points.

I learned a lot listening to the webinar, but here are three particular take-aways I wanted to share about Personalization 2.0:

1. Consumers pay more for a brand that treats them as individuals.

Almost two-thirds (62%) of consumers will pay more and recommend a brand that provides a more personalized experience. That sounds like a really big number, but think back to the last brand that sent you relevant, wanted content. Chances are you’re still buying from them, right?

2. It’s all about the data.

Individualizing customer experiences is impossible without the right customer data. Investing in technologies that provide real-time access to customer data is a must to achieve Personalization 2.0. But it’s not all about spending money on the latest-and-greatest. This change is as much a mindset as it is a technology hurdle. It means designing your digital touch points right from the start with the idea of using and collecting data so as to create a more complete view of your customer.

3. Don’t boil the ocean!

But, remember, Personalization 2.0 is an end goal and a journey. It takes work—you should continually work towards it, but you’ll need to start small and build up. A good starting point is to invest in one mature, data-rich channel (hint hint: email!) and then continually integrate other channels to eventually grow into individualization.

Creating content and experiences that your customers find relevant isn’t easy. It takes a commitment to investing time and money into building out technology and processes to create a richer view of your customer—but it’s really worth it. It’s simple: when brands treat customers like royalty, customers reward brands with loyalty.

What’s been your experience with Personalization 2.0? I’d love to hear from you.

Bonus: Upcoming Webinar

And, by the way, I’d like to invite you to an upcoming webinar. Join us on January 26 for a lightning round of 2016 predictions as 10 (count ’em, 10!) email experts go head to head. It’s going to be a great chance to capitalize on what’s coming in our industry—and maybe to have a little fun, too. Register today!

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The Transactional Email News Digest

Email Marketing Redefined: Service With a Side of Sales

Leading things off this week, here’s a thoughtful piece from Debra Ellis in Target Marketing on the blurring lines between marketing and customer service. Debra makes the point that as more and more business processes move online and take place through the email channel, companies need to refine their approaches to how they’re communicating with customers. That is, what’s the appropriate message given the customer’s position in the buying journey:

“Marketing is a service when it solves people’s problems. Transactional emails are one to one communication. The right combination of marketing and service messages benefit customers by helping them maximize the return from their investments.” Debra has a lot more on email and marketing best practices on her blog, Multichannel Magic.

Optimizing Transactional Email in the Magento E-Commerce Platform

The Magento platform powers e-commerce sites for many of the world’s top brands, from Nike and Office Max to Fiji Water, Stella & Dot and Chronicle Books. Freelance Magento developer and blogger Giles Bennett has a helpful piece up with tips and tricks for formatting and managing transactional email. Some of what he discusses is specific to Magento, like how to disable unnecessary or redundant alerts. But he also covers things like strategies for using CMS blocks to automatically update headers and footers that anyone working with transactional email will find helpful.

5 Vital Benefits of Transactional Email Program

In a similar vein, Anil Agarwal has a post up that’s something of a Transactional Email 101. He covers the essential basics – how transactional email is defined by the FTC, how it’s distinct from other kinds of email, how brands use it to service and engage customers, etc. Good overview for anyone new to the email / e-commerce world.
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Stay Thirsty Keep Sending, My Friends

Finally, time for some email comedy: Here’s a wacky awesome video from the folks at Dyn, the infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and email services provider from New Hampshire. It’s a decidedly low-fi but effective send up of the Dos Equis beer ads from recent years. Dyn’s director of deliverability, Stephen Wheeler stars as: “The Most Reputable Sender in The World.” Instead of amazing feats of supernatural abilities (He won the Tour de France but was disqualified for riding a unicycle), we get amazing feats of supernatural email delivery prowess (He’s been know to send customers their email receipts, before they even order). Nicely done.

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Find out more about how to capitalize transactional emails for upsell opportunities with the Transactional Messaging Best Practices eBook.

Transactional Messaging Best Practices