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Segmentation vs Personalization: They’re not the same.

m&ms-large

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to continue battling with segmentation or look for more advanced ways to achieve real personalization that doesn’t go out of date?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!

Tag of the week – Dustin 1-2-1 Personalization

dustin-edit2

Dustin, a Nordics retailer and a fantastic member of the Kickdynamic family are turning heads throughout the ecommerce world with their truly 1-2-1 personalized email. Dustin are now providing truly advanced personalization and have fully automated their build process to deliver 1-2-1 product recommendations tailored to specific browse behaviors, and product preference.

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-07 at 10.59.59Dustin connect a live API and design a live image template directly in the Kickdynamic interface. At the point of send, a user ID & sendout ID is merged into the live Tag, completing the API call returning the latest product recommendations for each customer. Each time the email is opened, the product information is updated, ensuring the recipient always sees the latest price and discount information. The live image uses advanced visibility functionality to display image layers based on differing information per product.

Dustin2What’s great about this capability of Kickdynamic is that it requires absolutely no customisation and can all be set up in the UI. Before the introduction of Kickdynamic, Dustin were unable to achieve this 1-2-1 product recommendation and personalization. They now use Kickdynamic in the majority of their emails.

 

 

 

 

Save time & resource with automated email content

See this:

imagetemplate

This is a what we call a live image template. It is being built in our new Content Automation product. It may not look much, but this image template, and the power behind it, is going to change how email marketers build automated & personalized email content.

For the last 4 years we have been working with email marketers to build a platform that allows us to send email with more engaging and higher converting content. We built the first contextual personalisation rule builder, developed industry first live content email widgets and now we have created a seriously powerful new product called Content Automation.

Using Content Automation email marketers can build a live image template to automate content in business-as-usual email and/or lifecycle programs quickly and easily. Automating this content allows you to reduce your email build time dramatically freeing up time to be more strategic.

So how does it work?

We have built this new product to be fully self service, so there is no customization required and you don’t need to wait until your IT team is free. Directly in the interface you can build your live image in 3 steps:

1. Connect a json, xml, csv or webpage content source.

This is the source of content that you want to take information from to display automatically in your email messages. Content source examples include:

  • New in womenswear page
  • Latest blogs
  • Product catalog
  • Movie listings
  • TV schedule
  • Live hotel prices

As an example, we have created a API call containing 3 products from Argos. It looks like this:

[

{
id:1,
description: “LG 49LF590V 49 Inch Full HD Freeview HD Smart TV.”,
image: “http://argos.scene7.com/is/image/Argos/3912339_R_Z001A?$TMB$&wid=312&hei=312”,
link: “http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/3912339.htm”,
fasttrack: “y”,
special: “5”,
price: 359.00,
regprice: 399.99,
quantity: 10,
discountamount: 10

},
{
id:2,
description: “Philips 22PFH4000/88 22 Inch Full HD TV.”,
image: “http://argos.scene7.com/is/image/Argos/3917547_R_Z001A?$TMB$&wid=312&hei=312”,
link: “http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/3917547.htm”,
fasttrack: “y”,
special: “3”,
price: 119.00,
quantity: 2,
regprice: 119.00,
discountamount: 0
},
{
id:3,
description: “Bush 32in HD Ready LED TV/DVD Combi White”,
image: “http://argos.scene7.com/is/image/Argos/4240031_R_Z001C?$TMB$&wid=312&hei=312”,
link: “http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Product/partNumber/4240031.htm”,
fasttrack: “n”,
special: “6”,
price: 169.99,
quantity: 1,
regprice: 949.99,
discountamount: 150
}
]

(Don’t worry about it looking techy – it is just a list of products and their associated info such as price, description etc).

This is a test API, a normal API would contain 1000s of products updating with new items and changing the product information.

Notice that two products are on discount; discountamount: 150 and discountamount: 10
and two products are viable as fast track; fasttrack: “y”
and also notice the stock level of a product; quantity: 10

All products have different information associated with them, and this information will change frequently. Content Automation allows you to reflect the different product information directly in the same image template. When this changes, such as stock level, it is updated at the time of open.

2. Build a live image template based on the content source.

Now you build how you want your live image template to look in the email. This is the size, layout, colours, call to action and more.

I’ve built the below live image template with each area connecting to corresponding data-point for a product item.

Data-feed-live-image

So, at the time of open, the live-image template takes the appropriate info for the product from the feed and updates the content of the image – live and instantly. So if the price above changed from £119.00 to £99.00 – it would be reflected automatically.

Using the Content Automation editor you can customize the exact layout of your live image. You can also add a call to action, and change font sizes, colours and more – you have the control.

3. Magical visibility rules

Now in step one, I asked you to note the following:

Two products are on discount; discountamount: 150 and discountamount: 10
and two products are viable as fast track; fasttrack: “y”
and also notice the stock level of a product; quantity: 10

This information on a product changes from product to product. How do you represent this in the same image template? Easy, you use visibility rules. Visibility rules allow you to show or hide image information based on data in the feed. For example, if I want to show the number of items left in stock when quality is 3 or less I do this with visibility rules.

The results is this:

If product 1  has stock quantity of 10. We have set the visibility rules to not show any stock level information or callouts:

ca1

If product 2 has stock quantity of 1. We have set the visibility rules to show a stock call out with the amount left:

ca3

If product 3  has stock quantity of 2. We have set the visibility rules to show a stock call out with the amount left:

ca4

This is the same image template repeated for 1000s of products automatically!

The final step – creating the Tag.

Now you have your automated live image-template you can create a TAG to add to your HTML. At this stage you can filter or sort what products to show in email based on other information in the feed. For example, only display products over £100.00 price:

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-09-39-13

Unleash its power

This level of content automation has allowed brands such as ASDA, P&O Ferries, Holland & Barrett, save serious email time on their email build, and keep email constantly fresh and up to date. Automating email content this way actually allows you to start moving towards being able to send 1-2-1 personalized messages. Now I’m Kickdynamic CEO and Co-Founder so would say that, but don’t just take our word for it:

Asda has reduced email build time by up to 9-days per month by asda-200x200automating their daily alert email campaign resulting a signifcant impact on ROI.

“It is amazing that this project began as a response to a business challenge and now this Kickdynamic technology is LEADING THE WAY to automating our emails and getting us to true 1 to 1 personalization”

– Guy Smith, CRM Manager at Asda

poferriesP&O Ferries personalise and automate all content from from weather and blog sources to ensure the latest content is displayed in every email.

“We were thrilled the moment Kickdynamic explained the concept of Content Automation and took us through it the rst time. It has given us incredible flexibility and is quickly becoming our go-to method of getting live content into our emails.”

– Kim Valinder, P&O Ferries

It’s fully self-service, setup directly in the Kickdynamic platform no IT team or customisation required. No web cropping and therefore design flexible. Read more in the one pager.