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Segmentation vs Personalization: They’re not the same.

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In a typical day I’ll probably say the words ‘email personalization’ a hundred times. What I’ve noticed is that my definition of email personalization is not always the same as other people’s. It seems that there can be some confusion between segmentation and personalization. Are the two interchangeable or are they very different?

IMO they’re very different. Let’s start with segmentation.

Segmentation allows you to put people into pots and target them with content deemed ‘relevant’ to that pot. 

grouped M&MsCustomers are split into groups and receive the content that best serves their needs as a whole group. Persona based segmentation uses aggregated data to split the market into sections according to shared attributes which may be gender – male or female, or preference – menswear, womenswear, home or kids etc. A slightly more advanced level of segmentation could be the splitting out of customer type based on their buying behavior.

As marketers we’re very good at at creating the process to put people in the pots, but we don’t have a way to change preference easily and fluidly once a customer lands in a particular segment. As time moves on and customer needs evolve, segmentation typically doesn’t; once a customer lands in a pot, they’re there for a while, so the content being sent can become irrelevant very quickly. If a contact indicates an interest in home, they may not want to receive home content forever – it’s possible they were doing a renovation and were only interested in ‘home’ at that point in time or for a couple of months.

Further to this, the segmentation categories tend to be purposefully broad to fit as many recipients into the pre-determined pots as possible. The fact that I’m a woman doesn’t necessarily make a female communication more appealing to me – particularly if I’ve recently browsed men’s clothing for my partner.

The biggest challenge with segmentation is that people change over time. What you told me when you signed up, or what you bought two years ago is a much less useful indicator of what you’re interested in than what you browsed last month. Is it better to continue battling with segmentation or look for more advanced ways to achieve real personalization that doesn’t go out of date?

We ask everybody we speak to if they’re personalizing and it’s fair to say that majoritively they respond with what we’d consider segmentation. Whilst segmentation does provide some level of personalization, at some point the content for that segment was deemed relevant to that individual, it’s not personalization in its truest sense.

At a real base level, personalization is saying ‘Hi Firstname’. This is so basic though that I’m not even going to consider it.

Real email personalization is the consistent delivery of content truly personalized, at an individual level.

For many email marketers this is the goal but it often feels unrealistic and not easily achievable. That’s because it’s just not possible using segmentation – you’ll never get to 1-2-1 personalization using dynamic content or segmented sends.

The best place to start when considering achievable personalization is data. One of problems people face with personalization is the speed of processing data points – picking up an abandon browse and actioning it the next day is tough, but with the advent of single customer view databases, businesses are getting better and better at this – the main problem is content creation.

Red-dressThere’s so much data available in your CRM, perhaps relating to previous purchases, average order value, browse behavior, customer type, propensity to purchase and so on. CRM data can be used in Kickdynamic Tags to automatically personalize email content based on each individual’s behavior & data. For example, if you have data in your CRM that says I’ve browsed ‘dresses’, I have a propensity to purchase ‘red’ and ‘size 12’ you can automatically show me red dresses in my size. This model can be applied to every individual in your CRM to deliver content that is always relevant to them. Kickdynamic bridges the gap between your CRM data and your email personalization – with no need for time-consuming dynamic content conundrums. The content source in this case could be a product catalogue or Google shopping feed – we’ll use the CRM data and business rules you’ve defined to find the right products from the feed to display to that individual.

PersonalizationInstead of clustering customers into set pots as you do with segmentation, you can now use an individual’s CRM data combined with Content Automation to deliver content to them at a 1-2-1 level. Connecting CRM data to live images powered by feeds, makes email content personalization achievable at an individual level. You can even merge product SKUs into our tags to display specific products. At the time of send, a product SKU can be merged from your ESP into our Tag, we’ll match that in the feed and show that image content automatically at open time. You only need to set this up once to generate an endless variation of personalized email content. An additional benefit of using open time technology to personalize is that every time the email is opened the product information is live – we’ll serve the latest product content from the feed every time the email is opened. Prices, offers and availability will always be up to date, eradicating email shelf-life.

If your CRM doesn’t contain this level of customer detail – that doesn’t matter.  If you have category based information such as whether a customer has a propensity to buy shoes, bags, shirts, dresses or sportswear for example, this information can be used to completely remove the requirement to build complex, dynamic content. It only needs to be setup once and will automatically display the the latest products from the propensity category by utilizing open time technology.

Approaching personalization in this way removes the stagnation around content irrelevance. Content Automation gives you, the marketer, the power to let recipients decide what they want to receive. Use your CRM to keep track of real-time activity and use that information to keep content relevant all the time. Personalizing at this level boosts engagement; you’re showing the right content to the right person – it’s a proven recipe for success. Every customer using Kickdynamic in this way is seeing significant increases in both engagement and AOV.

In short, personalization and segmentation are not interchangeable. Many marketers do segmentation but it is inefficient and resource heavy. But whilst 1-2-1 email content personalization is becoming more prevalent, many email marketers feel they need segmentation as a route to get to doing more personalization. This isn’t the case. Marketers should be utilizing real-time CRM data and automation to revolutionize their email activity. It’s a shift in mindset certainly, but the results will be unprecedented. It’s also repeatable at scale – something that isn’t true for segmentation.

Trust us, be brave and make the leap to content automation. It’s the trend that nobody is talking about.

P.S. I hope you like the M&Ms. From no personalization, to colour segementation, to M&Ms with my face on!

Content Feeds- The Hot Topic of 2017

There are two hot topics going down in the KD office; one – the disaster that is Lent, and two, the brilliance that is content feed connection.

Firstly, let’s tackle Lent…

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The nemesis ‘Lent’ has made quick work of the Kickdynamic office this year… all remaining Hobnobs have been swept away never to return, the chocolate stash replaced with apples and oranges, and a strict ban on afternoon ‘biscuit runs’ is in immediate effect – Coffee seems to be the only hope!

However, it’s not all doom and gloom – Lent also gives us the opportunity to set a challenge for all Email and CRM marketers – so, our challenge to you is:

challenge‘SEND A TRULY PERSONALISED EMAIL CAMPAIGN IN THE NEXT 30 DAYS’ (emphasis on the word ‘TRULY’).

This challenge quite nicely brings me to my next order of business – The HOT TOPIC of 2017 – yes, Content Feeds. Now I know you’re probably thinking “hmmmm, how is a feed a hot topic?”- and I don’t blame you. This is new for many, but once this concept is introduced and understood, Content Feeds are quickly becoming the most optimum way of achieving fully automated email and sending truly personalised content.

Content Feeds are rich in valuable product data that is updated frequently (typically daily or hourly in some cases). To name a few data categories: Product Category, Brand, Price, Stock Level, Colour, Gender, Sale Price, User Ratings. The phrase ‘The World at your Fingertips’ doesn’t necessarily do content feeds justice – combine this with CRM data and we are edging close to the Holy Grail for all E-Marketers.

At this point, for those still eating chocolate and have sugar in the tank to keep reading 😃, will be thinking, “ok, sounds interesting, we have a content feed, we have CRM data-  but you can’t get this into email without days of build time or plenty of custom interjection”…. WRONG – getting this into email is simple, quick, and requires no customisation what so ever – hence being the Hot Topic of 2017. Many are now connecting up data feeds, fully automating email content, and creating content rules to show products based on user data live at the time of open.

How this works in the Kickdynamic platform:

  1. Set up a Template with ‘Content Blocks’ connected directly to the live feed (this only has to be done once!).
  2. Apply visibility rules to change the design when required (i.e. show the ‘Was Price’ when item is on Sale).
  3. Set up a Campaign linked to the Template you’ve just designed.
  4. Apply Rules: Add in a ‘Merge’ rule that will filter the content feed at Open Time based on the merged in user preference (i.e. Previous Browse was ‘Beats Headphones’ – The Tag will merge this in and show products from the feed containing ‘Beats Headphone’ at open time).
  5. Copy the auto generated Tag into your Email HTML and you’re done… simple.

Unlike screen cropping, favoured by those like Movable Ink and Liveclicker, feed connection (which requires NO custom intervention) finally gives brands the quick and easy ability to put CRM data to work.

For those looking to build Feed Connection into their strategy our advice is to follow 3 simple steps –

  1. Automate to free resource – (I like to call this stage the Breath of Fresh Air) in most cases, time and resource is a huge challenge due to the BAU build and send process. Rather than applying a lean methodology to streamline the existing process, with what we have, this introduction of new technology will remove the old BAU process of email build. In the past we have seen this bring build time down from 10 days to just 1. Thus opening time to focus on personalisation and creating truly great email.
  2. Truly Personalise – all those great ideas that have been collecting cobwebs- dust them off! Email and CRM teams will now have the time and technology to easily personalise. Kick off your mission for Truly Great Email by taking personalisation ideas, such as Open Time Brand Preference and roll out. Test this – we expect to see +5% uplift in revenue in many cases.
  3. Lifecycle: Work Automated Personalisation into all email – Staying relevant all the time is effortless when true personalisation is so easy, why not share this love in all emails.

Feed Optimisation companies such as Golden Feeds, Passion Digital and Lengow are great companies that are helping many brands get their feeds in order, not only for email, but for all areas of e-Commerce. We highly recommend reaching out if you haven’t done so already.

Wishing you all a splendid March! 😃

Christian

The Power of Personalization

Personalization is a top priority for email marketers; from contextual levels to more obvious name or product specific personalization, there are many different ways to do this. Send highly targeted, well personalized emails to your subscribers and you will see an increase in your opens, and better conversion rates. Ultimately you’ll build a better relationship between your brand and your subscribers, however, despite all of these benefits and the many methods of personalizing email, a huge 60% of marketers admit that they struggle when it comes to personalizing content in real-time.

A prime example of this is a recent email which I received from British fashion retailer OASIS with the subject line:

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Working in this industry, it instantly caught my attention (not just because I’m on the lookout for a personalized clutch bag) but also because I was intrigued at how they may have personalized this email. With such a specific subject line, I presumed SURELY there would be some sort of individual personalization happening…

I was wrong…

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Now, I doubt I was the only person in OASIS’ subscriber list who was disappointed upon opening this email. What a wasted opportunity!

As well as the lack of personalization within the email, there is also no obvious indication of how limited this ‘limited’ time is for.

This would have been an absolutely perfect time to add a personalized name to the image to actually show potential customers exactly how their bag could look.

With a few simple customizations, this email could have really stood out of the inbox and enticed more readers to purchase the product.

 

Firstly, this would have been a perfect opportunity to personalize the image to show readers what their bag would look like. Using a Kickdynamic Tag, this is easy to set up and implement and has a great impact on readers.

Secondly, to create the sense of urgency of the limited time this product is available, it would have been a great addition to include a countdown timer within the email. The urgency of the offer would be driven by the seconds counting down live. Additionally, when this offer/option has expired, swapping the image to an ‘after’ image, or showing a 1×1 gif in place of the timer, would ensure the content is relevant and always up to date. Ensuring the most up to date offer information is shown to the recipient will improve their customer experience and affiliation with the brand.

From this:                                                          To this:

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What do you think? Would seeing your name or initials over the product image have encouraged you to click through and complete a purchase?