We live in a digital age where the ‘always on’ consumer holds all the power. While the ‘Mad Men’ mass advertising model still has its place, this too is evolving with consumers increasingly looking for a personalised experience tailored to their likes and dislikes, where they are and what device they’re on. The challenge is targeting an audience that is becoming indifferent about the messages that are hitting their inboxes. How do marketers make sure they stand out? How do they cut through the noise?

The importance of data

Big data has been a buzzword for a number of years but are we now, in 2015, starting to understand what it means and the opportunity it presents for marketers? Marketers have unprecedented access to data and know more about their customers than any generation before. They know who and where their audience is, what content they’re looking at and when, as well if it’s being viewed on desktop, tablet or smartphone.

Personalisation is key

It’s important to draw on audience insights and take a personalised approach. What’s harrowing is that a recent Econsultancy report found that 38 per cent of marketers do not use personalisation. The upside is that email was regarded as the channel that marketers personalised the most (88% for company respondents and 84% for agency respondents). Email personalisation dwarfed other categories such as website, search engine marketing and social media.

What’s more, 23 per cent surveyed said they had experienced ‘major uplift’ in conversion when email was personalised. Ultimately, emails which are tailored and relevant to consumers means they’ll be more responsive, increasing the likelihood of customer retention.

Personalisation coupled with the pending reforms of the Data Protection Act provides brands with a unique opportunity. Brands can use data protection and privacy as a competitive advantage to assure their customers that the data shared with them will be used effectively; not shared or used without prior consent. Providing greater transparency to customers will also assist marketers.  As customers opt in and out of communications, marketers will know that their messages will be targeting a captive audience, rather than ending up in the spam folder.

The inbox is getting smarter

If conversion rates and data protection reforms weren’t enough for marketers to personalise their messages, the rise of inbox technology may be another catalyst for change. We know that Google’s ‘smart’ Gmail inbox is broken down into primary, social and promotions categories. The inbox picks up on trends and deciphers through irrelevant emails so only preferred emails make it to the primary inbox. All impersonalised and irrelevant content will be labelled spam and will go straight to junk. In light of this, email marketers have to smarten up or otherwise run the risk of being forgotten.

Marketers need to rely on the data they have and look at the behaviour of their customers.  There are a number of tools available to leverage customer insights. Content can be more personal at time of open (instead of time of send). Emails can be tailored to the location of where a consumer is, the time it is and to the device they’re on. Brands need to embrace this. By doing so, it will help inform future campaigns and create more meaningful customer experiences.

Fashion retailer, Jacques Vert Group implements an email marketing strategy where personalisation is at its core. The business heavily segments and targets their subscribers based on email customer engagement rates, tailoring specific content to the different types of customers. This approach has seen Jacques Vert Group experience an impressive 5,000 per cent in ROI from email marketing.

Monitor, measure and adapt

When it comes to email marketing, measurement like personalisation is hugely important. A key advantage of email marketing is that you can track clicks and see which campaigns are driving sales more easily than with other marketing activities. This allows you to measure the ROI of specific campaigns, learn from your data-led customer insights, perhaps change tact and decide what works and what doesn’t.

Following a campaign, take the opportunity to look at the bigger picture. Measure whether objectives have been met and assess performance across weeks and months – both at the campaign and wider business levels. You can then identify correlating peaks and use this insight to drive even greater results for your next campaign. You should always be learning and adapting when necessary.

The onus is on email marketers

Consumers are savvy and know the value of their data. If they have taken the time to share personal information, they’ll expect brands to acknowledge it and tailor communications accordingly. If brands do not react to their customers’ preferences and personalise content, they run the risk of the email inbox not even acknowledging them, losing them forever.

Jenna Tiffany

Jenna Tiffany


Jenna Tiffany, Lead ‎Digital Marketing Strategist, Communicator.