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Ella Aharon and Shefa Weinstein discuss ways to personalize email communication with customers, including examples using advanced email tech.

Video Transcript

– [Shefa] So, my name is Shefa. I was the GM of DynamicMail before the acquisition five months ago. We were a content-based platform that helped build content within email. Optimove was a platform that knew what to send, when to send it, so it was a great synergy. We’re taking that content and we’re going to start talking about what dynamic content means to us.

Let me grab the clicker. So, my name is Shefa Weinstein. I’m now Director of Strategic Services. Ella, with me today, is the team lead in the same department. And what we want to do today is kind of go through what dynamic content means to us. What is it dynamic content… How would we define it?

What are some examples that we can give you and how would we do this? What does a snippet look like? You know, what is that and all about? And then last, we’re actually going to go into emails. We’re going to pick two, three types of emails and give examples for what you can do in each of these emails. So, you guys walk away with a full, real toolbox of new features. If anybody’s heard me pitch before, I apologize, this is my go-to opening line.

Email was a fax. When we got started back in the day, DynamicMail, what we knew about email was that exactly what was created was what was sent to the clients, or to the users. It could be that maybe I’m going to personalize the email a little bit, so maybe I’ll have a merge tag, right? And that merge tag is going to be like, “Hi, Shefa. Hi, Ella. Hi, Mike,” right? So, we’ll split that email three ways and then, still, all before we send the email out, and then once we’re ready to send it, it’s been the big day, it’s been sitting on a shelf for about three months, send out that email and exactly what we created is exactly what they got.

Which is nice and cute but really not useful in 2018. What I want to do today is I want to send them out stuff that’s relevant to whoever they are, wherever they are. So, the question would be is, what does that mean? How does that technology even work? What we do now is we actually send out placeholders.

So, these are two examples of dynamic content and I’ll go through how exactly it works. When we’re ready to send out an email, so let’s say we’re finding your closest location. What I’m going to do is we’re going to send out that email. It’s going to have a little placeholder. And the placeholder actually has instructions. The instructions say, “Please, go to the server, figure out where the user is, and then send back the asset that’s right.”

If I’ve got 4,000 locations, that means I’ve got 4,000 assets sitting around waiting to be sent, and show them where it is. When the user opens the email, and it’s very important, it happens when the user opens the email. At that moment, the server gets called, “Okay, where are you sitting?” “I’m sitting in…this is Chicago,” I can figure that out off of bat.. So, “I’m sitting in Chicago.” “Please, show the lovely location in Chicago.Send the asset back to the user.”

Now, that whole decision-making process takes about 10 milliseconds. 10 milliseconds is faster than the human eye. The asset gets shown. Bam, we have dynamic content in an email. Another example would be video. People don’t want to think video is dynamic in terms of how it’s picked up in terms of a placeholder, but it is. Some people know that iOS has allowed users to receive full video within their email.

Now, you can watch an entire video when the data’s pooled only as much as the video is watched. So, for those people, we definitely want to send them out a full video, but Outlook sucks, and you can’t do animation, and you can’t do much of anything. So, for them, we’ve got a single asset. What the system does is that the moment where the user opens up their email, we understand where the user is sitting, meaning not location but device.

What email client are they using so that I can know what asset to send back so that the weight of the email isn’t too heavy. There are three contextual triggers. We’ve got location, weather, and time. There are a few more but keeping it light here. And then, behavior would be a triggered action, someone bought something, someone logged in, and based on that we can be sending out as well.

So, I’m going to pass over to Ella for a second. – [Ella] Thank you, Shefa. Now, we’re going to just view a few dynamic content examples. We have two types of dynamic content. We’re going to start with real-time content which basically means that it depends on the time of open.

It’s going to be real time. It’s going to be up to date to the time of open. Real-time pricing and inventory is super important example. For example, if I want to promote my products, I’m putting it in the email, I want to make sure that I’m putting the right prices there, and I want to put only, you know, products that are in stock.

For example, I once received an email with some products and then I opened one of the products. I wanted to buy it. I opened the website and then I see that it’s suddenly out of stock. So, that was really disappointing to find out. Conversantly, if I’m a company and I’m having a sale on the site, obviously I want to show that reduced price inside the email, right? So, we’re going to scrape the prices and check the inventory when the time of open, when the customer opens the email, then the customer will see the updated prices.

Jackpots is also something that is also always updated. It can be updated every single day, It can be updated every few minutes. So, this is, again, something I want to send that is always going to be updated to the time of open. I’m going to see the right amount each time I open the email.

Rewards program is something that, for example, it can be a loyalty points, it can be a game status. And these are also very important that they’re updated to the time of open. For example, we have here two examples. One is from the e-commerce world and one is from the gaming world. I’m just going to take one random as an example, “You are silver status, only $50 away from becoming gold.”

Okay, this is great. Not only here that I have a dynamic content, right? Because I know I need a purchase that is $50 or more and then I get upgraded to being a gold status. So, this is dynamic content. This is awesome, but also it’s kind of, you know, gamified email, right?

Because it makes the customer be motivated to make that $50 purchase in order to be upgraded to a gold member. So, we have here to things. And, also, what’s interesting here is that because it’s real time, if I got this email yesterday and today I made a $25 purchase, and I’m going to open the email today afterwards, I’m going to see here, “$25 dollars more and you’ll become a gold member.”

So, it’s always going to be updated. If we’re talking about gaming, it can be, “Make a deposit, or make a bet, play three more times,” and so on, but it’s kind of the same thing. The second type of dynamic content is advanced HTML which basically means that the email is interactive and it’s much more similar to the web than to, you know, the emails that we know and receive.

Forms and surveys are a great way to gather information about your customers, right? You want to get to know them better in order to, you know, target them better so these are great. I think we all received one of those emails, “Click here to fill out a survey,”and then we click, and then we enter the website.

We can fill out the survey inside the website. That’s great, but why not put the survey inside the email itself? If we, let’s say, for example, take four questions, put them inside the email, it’s going to be much faster for the customer to respond. So, if it’s much faster for the customer to respond then the chances that they will actually respond are much higher. And if we take this example, “What skin type do you have?”

We have here four options and that’s it. We do not have more options. He’s only going to choose one of these options. So, we’re kind of also predicting what the customers is going to answer, right? And if the customer sees, “Oh, wait, I’m definitely dry,” then, you know, we’re predicting it, and he’s going to emotionally connect to his answer.

And by that, we even increase the chances of responding to the survey even more. Carousel and gallery are a great way to grab more real estate inside the email. The email is, you know, pretty limited in location, right? So, we have here three images, but while using the carousel or gallery, we can see six different emails.

So, this is another great way to add a bit more products inside the email. Last example and very interesting one is the email pop-ups. I think we’re all pretty familiar with pop-ups in the websites but this can also be done inside the email. We can use web technologies to draw our customer’s attention to a specific, let’s say, offer that we want to promote, or a different something like a sale we want to promote, in gaming, it can be a specific game, a specific event.

And we actually wanted to test this one and we did. So, there was a campaign that went out for three groups. The control group received an email with an offer but no pop-up, right? But, still received an offer. Group A was a pop-up that was generic so it was just something like, “You have points. Go collect your offer.”

Group B received a personalized pop-up so it was something like, “You have 200 points.You can get 20% off now.” And the results were… Well, it was pretty obvious that Group A and B are going to act better, right? But still, Group A had an increase in conversion in 6.9% which is a lot.

Again, it’s compared to the control group which still received an email. And Group B had an increase of 24.4%in terms of conversion compared to the control group which is amazing. It’s a very high increase. And this tells us that not only that pop-ups in the email are great to have, but if you make it a bit more personalized, you can, you know, increase your revenues by…because your conversion’s going to increase a lot.

And this actually brings us to my next point which is the difference between dynamic and personalization. So, we know what’s dynamic content, and we know what’s personalization, and we’re going to give just a few examples just, you know, to talk about the difference between those two and how we can combine those two. For campaigns that you want to promote different products, you know, the generic thing to do is, you know, just put some products, it can be random products, it can be best-sellers for example, you know, anything like that.

This could be decided on months before you actually send the campaign. But if you want to add a dynamic content in it, you can scrape the prices from the website, have the prices be up to date. You can check the inventory, make sure that these products are in stock. But, now we want to add personalization, right? We have dynamic, we want to make it personalized.

So, one great thing to do here is use the recommendation engine which, you know, tells for each customer, he received only relevant products, right? So, that’s a really great thing to do. We decided with another example which is the replenishment engine. So, we know what the customer buys. We know how much he buys of it. We know when he’s going to run out of whatever he buys.

So, why not send a campaign about it, right? That’s very personalized. And we’re also going to add here, of course, the dynamic content. The prices of that replenished product is going to be updated and we’re obviously going to do it only for products that are in stock.

– We’re going to start with the very generic version. I think a lot of us have passed this already as marketers. But, we’re going to have a little promotion at the bottom of our email. It’s in the template so I don’t know what it is this week. Now, I click here below to see this week’s sales. All right, good. Well, at least they know that there might be a sale and they’ll click on it.

But, let’s quickly move over to dynamic. We’ll put in this week’s sale. We’re able to add the sale of this week. So, we’re going to do 40% off cool winter colors. Amazing. So, this what we’re going to be offering. Dynamic-wise, keeps it fresh, always see something new, amazing.

Let’s step it up a level. I want to personalize it. I’m sending an email to Ella. I’m sending it to a person. This person has likes and dislikes and a lot of the time we can know that. I know that she loves the city collection. So, instead of sending the generic, even the dynamic version, I’m going to send the personalized one.

The personalized banner is going to allow me to connect with her more and she’ll make that sale. But, I don’t know if you guys noticed, I dropped the discount. I went from 40 down to 30 because if I’m going to connect with the person, I don’t need to give as much away, and therefore we can save some money.

– So, events will be our last example in this specific section. And I think the most generic thing to do is, “Click here to see this week’s upcoming events.” And, again, clicking, entering a website, not so…you know, we can make it a bit better, right? We can add the dynamic content and have upcoming events inside the email itself.

So, obviously, if I had an event yesterday, I’m not going to see it today, right? So, I’m going to see only the upcoming events. If we’re talking about e-commerce, it can be the next pop-up shops, for example. So, we can show it inside the email. That is great, but why not personalize it, right? Not all the events are relevant for everyone.

So, by personalizing it, you’re only going to show your upcoming events. If I bet on tennis and I’ve bet on tennis my whole life, I don’t really care about the upcoming football events, upcoming basketball events. So, I’m going to see inside my email only upcoming tennis events, right? That’s great. Also in e-commerce, bring you back to the example with the pop-up shops.

If I’m located into the UK, I don’t really care about the pop-up shops in the U.S.A., right? So, I’m going to see only the pop-up shops that are near me and they’re most relevant for me.

– All right. I promised you guys that we’d go into the emails and actually start looking at what we can do inside of them. So, I’ll make good on that. Second transactions are really important email for a lot of people, right? They’ve done their first purchase. We’ve gotten them over the hurdle which was not easy, I want to just say, and we’re ready to do the second one, but I don’t really have enough information in order to really target them and personalize it.

So, we’re going to have to go back to that dynamic content again. The first thing we’re going to do is recommended products. What’s trending now? We could be able to show best-sellers, clearance items. Again, we’re going to be, like Ella mentioned, we’re going to be scraping from the website or pulling from an API, and being able to show what’s happening right now with real-time pricing, real-time inventory. Complimentary products.

Super fun. She just bought this gorgeous blazer, let’s hit her up with a pair of shoes. I just bought a stand for my mic, let’s see if I need to get some extension cables. Just need to be careful because recently I bought a router and I got hit with buy a router. It’s not really complimentary, that’s exactly the same thing. But maybe we could go through a router extension or some other types of products that will kind of marry each other.

Similar deals. That’s a lot of fun. You see what they just purchased, we’re going to try to get something very similar to that. So, for example, if I’ve spent x amount of money, let’s maybe go with an offer with a similar amount. Vacations is really great way of doing a similar deal. I just booked a room for my family. That’s two rooms.

I’ve told you how many people are in it. Chances are great that I’m going to take the family away again and probably not get to go with my husband. So, I’m going to show a similar deal, but here I just want to kind of clarify that it’s important to think about timing. To hit Ella with an email immediately after she bought a blazer that immediately has different numbers, but to soon after hit her with an email can work an apparel a lot faster than, for example, when we’re talking about vacations.

They’re not going to purchase it so fast. Monthly loyalty and account summary is a way to deeply connect with your users. Allow your users to know that you know them, you know what they’re up to, and you want to connect with them and show them the love. So, how are different ways that we can kind of show the love? First, let’s go with that current status level, right?

Remember, “You’re silver, $30 away from being gold.” It’s cute. It’s a good start. I like it, but let’s step it up a level. The next thing we’re going to do is offer specific to that level and how to redeem them. And this is super important, right? We know that you’re gold status.

Now, I fly a lot. I don’t know about you guys. You’re all in this hall right now so I assume many of you just did. We all know about our airline points. We want to use them. I want to book a hotel. I want to upgrade my flight.

What I’m I eligible for? But, sometimes in stores and in gaming, we’re not sure what it means to level up. Being able to show within the email not only the status level but what that gives them right now and how they can get it will allow that emotional connection of like, “Oh, yeah. I’m going to get more points because I get more stuff.” Leaderboards, I’m old school. So, I had a Pac-Man machine in my pizza place and I would try to get my name up higher on the leaderboard.

And we all love those good leaderboards. Put them in the email. Let someone know where they sit to other people, right? Don’t listen to them, we’re still going. And let them continue to kind of gamify the situation and work against the group. Summary of winnings is really great. If they’re winning a lot and you’re sending off an email that says, “Hey, you’ve just won x dollars.”

That’s great. Again, the disclaimer, if they’re not winning, be careful. So, what you’re going to want to do is use that dynamic content to be able to just flip out the asset and say, “Good try. Keep going,” if they’re losing. Or, if they’ve only won 10 cents…and I worked with a company that was sending off deal alerts and they had no minimum threshold.

So, if the price changed and 5 cents later I got an email saying the price changed. So, just be careful about how you send it off and what your frequency is in sending, what your conditional statements are. Headers and footers are greatly overlooked and they’re in every email. Everybody here has at least one set of headers and footers if not multiple.

So, how can we use that location, and be able to put more dynamic content into it? The first thing we’ve got is loyalty points, right? We were talking about loyalty a couple of times already. Put it in the header. Let them know where they’re going. What’s their status level? What point level are they up to?

Newsfeeds. If I’m a fashion company, let’s show some fashion news. If I’m a sports betting company, let’s show some sporting news. That will mean that every time I open up the user, I consumer, user open up the email, I know I’m getting something. I’m learning something or it’s a useful email to me. In the footer, we’ve got social feeds.

So, that’s going to be your Instagram account, your Twitter account. There’s a whole other team, usually, a whole other team that’s building out all kinds of social content. Let’s use it, and steal it, and repurpose it for the emails. Keep things up to date. Keep things fresh. Because as the Instagram account keeps getting updated, so will this footer.

Last we’ve got close to store. This allows you to see what’s in the neighborhood. And every time I open up the email, if I’m at home, I see the closest store to me, if I’m at work, the closest store there. If you have not been taking notes this whole time, it is truly okay. On the website, you’re going to be able to download all the tips and tricks. There’s a whole cheat sheet of what we’ve been talking about this whole time.

Where we talked about dynamic content, examples, and what we can do in the emails. But I wanted to leave you guys with just one example. This is an email that we did with Sephora. We have permission to talk about which is why no other emails were from real clients because privacy is important. But, we actually went in for an award together and won on how dynamic content can make such a difference in an email campaign. The campaign here was quite simple.

They correlated products with the weather. So, if I opened up my email in New York and it’s cold, I would get one type of product, and if I would visit Ella in Chicago where it’s a little bit more humid, I would get a different one. And what you see is that the products that were beneath the weather were directly correlated. This allowed us to amazing results in the email and we got to another award that I talked about.

Did I mention we won that award? But, it’s a lot of fun to see like how content can change just by a person’s location and can increase sales.