Moving From Static To Dynamic: Building Relationship-First Email Creative
In the past, when email marketers noticed a drop in audience engagement, they would increase the volume of email sends, trying to win the attention deficit game by increasing frequency. But this strategy just doesn’t work anymore.
With the increased usage of mobile devices, smart phones and multi-channel social streams, your customers (or potential customers) now have a wealth of information available at their fingertips around the clock. In fact, it’s estimated that three out of four Americans under the age of 35 now check their smart phone or mobile device before even getting out of bed.
So if your audience is tuned out, the problem isn’t that they aren’t looking for information. The problem is that the amount of information has become overwhelming, making it hard to get your message noticed.
Turn Them On To Tune Them In
To get your users to tune in, you need to deliver the content they want to see, when they want to see it. To put it plainly, you need to increase the relevance of the message to grab their attention.
Delivering targeted, personalized content requires a different kind of approach to the email creative production process. In order to produce these personalized messages, you’ll need more than a template — you’ll need a flexible framework that will allow your brand to provide an individualized experience for each customer in an efficient and effective way.
The move from a static approach to a dynamic method is, of course, easier said than done. But it’s not impossible, and it’s well worth the effort. Targeted communications, on average, have a 3x conversion rate over a mass communication, while a truly individualized campaign will have around 5x the conversions.
Thus, the question shouldn’t be if you should move towards targeted creative content, but how soon. Let’s look at the essential steps you’ll need to take to get there:
- Who: Identify and prioritize customer segments.
- What: Plan the kind of content they’ll receive.
- How: Pre-plan your layouts to accommodate your content.
- Repeat: Optimize to ensure maximum performance.
You’ll need to know who your users are before you can provide them with a customized experience. Use data you already have to identify potential segments, and prioritize those segments against your business needs so that you can start to understand your new content needs.
Don’t think you have enough data to begin? Look at what you probably already track. Can you review past click behaviors to spot trends? Are you gathering information about your users’ activity on your website? Do you already have prospect, active, lapsed segments outlined for other channels?
These are all good places to start looking to understand how to group individuals into segments by their common needs and behaviors.
Now that you have an overview of your audience and the types of content that they may respond to, it’s time to plan the delivery of the content that will resonate with your segments. Start a simple matrix of your most valued audience segments so that you can start to sort the groups and create new content to meet the needs of these segments.
You’ll need a way to display and organize this content in a format that will be effective for your audience. This means you’ll need to use an email framework — a flexible template that is composed of set of modules that allow for a large variety of layout choices.
A well-designed framework will allow you to increase the percentage of relevant information over time without needing to redesign your basic template structure. This will provide you with a creative platform for your email sends, so you won’t need to go through a custom design process for every message.
Creating a customizable email framework will allow you to more easily grow into delivery of relevant, personalized content based on data such as products browsed, local store info, variable offers, etc., without having to revamp each email according to the new requirements.
It can be daunting at first, but if your framework is set up correctly, you can expand into using more personalized dynamic content by simply starting to use one or two dynamic modules at a time. You can also add to the variations within a module as your data matures or your production resources are able to produce more content. The key to a solid framework foundation is setting up a grid:
If you find that you have a high percentage of mobile device users, take the time to include mobile break points in your grid.
Breakpoints are the dimensions of each device screen size that your user base is likely to own. This will help prepare your framework for a responsive layout by establishing mobile display standards for each content region.
If you’re not familiar with the term, responsive design refers to a layout that is crafted in a way that it will respond to the user’s device and display the most relevant format for that experience. Think of it as taking dynamic content to the next level — user experience.
It requires a little more coding know-how, but responsive design for email is quickly evolving into a basic best practice and one of the most effective ways around to provide a customize mobile experience to the widest audience.
As with the modular approach, you don’t have to tackle every device breakpoint at once. It’s fine to start with a desktop and mobile breakpoint and add to it as necessary.
Once you have your framework in place and you’ve road-tested your content, take a moment to look back and analyze the results.
Review what’s working and what’s not, and change your approach accordingly. Plan a quarterly review of performance in order to keep pace with your audience’s technology needs. Is your mobile experience still relevant? If not, it might be time to dive into optimizing for those needs.
The important thing is to continue to grow and look for opportunities to provide a better and more customized experienced for your user base. They’ll thank you for it with increased engagement and conversions.
So whether you’re dipping your toe into dynamic content or ready for a full-scale, one-to-one communication strategy, these basic steps can help guide you through the process of building your creative platform to get you from A to B or A to Z.
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