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The trend nobody is talking about yet: Email content automation

Author's avatar By Jordie van Rijn 29 Mar, 2017
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1 to 1 dynamic content personalisation is the future of email marketing

I am a big fan of automation, a very big fan. Whenever you can, automate part of your email marketing process. While delivering timely, personalized and relevant content, automation is a big step forward in email marketing maturity of any program. So, the next big thing is Email Content Automation. Few email marketers are currently using it but it’s about to be the hottest trend – and a trend that’s here to stay.

Realistically a lot of production time goes into curating, copy-pasting and sorting content. Then there’s compliance and the multiple people who have to give their stamp of approval, checking details they shouldn’t be worrying about. It can take all your time just to manage and get “business as usual” email out of the door. Often that is a huge waste of creative power, time and resources. Wouldn’t it be great if your (standard) email program could literally run by itself? Set it up once and watch the positive results roll in with very little management.

What is Email Content Automation?

When we talk about ‘Marketing Automation’, the first thing that comes to mind is "traditional" marketing automation software. As in setting up campaigns, lead scoring and grading, and triggered campaigns. But where does the actual email content fit with this? With Email Content Automation you can pull content, products, and information from your site, database or feed directly into an email automatically. Automating content in this way removes the need to manually copy-paste, format, check and update. Not only is this a great timesaver for small email programs, it’s a lifesaver for large enterprises who operate at scale.

For instance, think about a bi-weekly email that contains ‘new in’ products. How much time would it take you to manually source the 8 latest products, copy-paste, test and get approval for this email? Building two emails that contain new in products can take a significant amount of time if approached on per email build basis. It is now possible to use a new feed to fully automate emails of this type which saves a significant amount of time which can be spent strategizing or improving other emails. For example, the time saved could be used to test designs of these ‘new in’ emails.

Making it personal, highly personal.

Dustin, a re-seller of IT products and services in the Nordics, automate email content to show each individual recipient highly personalized products, specific to their individual browse behaviour. With Content Automation it is no longer necessary for Dustin to insert products manually, segment or split send categories for different target groups, for example B2B and B2C groups. From one email, B2B customers will receive the exact products they have browsed with the B2B price, B2C customers will receive the exact products they have browsed with B2C pricing, all from one send. This has significantly reduced email build and creation time and has enabled Dustin to send email that is truly personalised at a 1-2-1 individual recipient level.

How does this work?

Dustin connected a live API in the Kickdynamic UI and designed a real-time image template using Kickdynamic. At the time of send, a user ID & sendout ID is merged into a “live Tag”. This fetches the latest product recommendations for each customer. Every time the email is opened, the product information is updated. This way the recipient always sees the latest price and discount information. Read more here.

Personal and up-to-date offers through email content automation

Another example we can all relate to comes from supermarket Asda. Instead of 4 generic product offers, customers with a propensity to purchase from a category are automatically shown products from that category that are:

  • on offer
  • and have 20 in stock at opening time.

It’s easy to see how this works. For instance, if someone has a high probability of buying dog products, the are shown dog products in the email they receive, if they have a propensity for cats they were shown cat products. Baby otter? Even that would be possible. Of course, not many people have a baby otter to feed – but that is the beauty: because it is automated it can cater to the complete long tail of product offerings that are super relevant to just a few. Normally that would take up too much resources. Now it doesn’t. Cat and dog? Then they get 2 products from each category.

Stock levels

The stock level addition to this is a smart rule. Asda doesn’t want to promote content that isn’t available to buy at the time of open, it would be a conversion killer if they did. The product data is pulled into the image at the moment of email open so the price and availability is always live making the email content relevant all the time.

Dynamic Pricing

Travel brands, retail brands, know that pricing changes can be a challenge as we are moving towards a dynamic pricing world, where prices change multiple times per day. And (unautomated) checking if pricing is correctly displayed can take up a lot of time.

From what I have seen at several big senders, they know what they should do to make a kick-ass email marketing program, but often resources or technical limitations that is keeping them from doing email as they would like. Curating content per email is a resource challenge. Personalization is a tech challenge. Because of the time saving and I think Email Content Automation will be one of the email marketing trends we will be hearing a lot about in the coming year(s).

Creating personalized email and content from every recipient beyond preference segmentation therefore, is a combined technology-resource challenge. No need for that anymore with email content automation.

Author's avatar

By Jordie van Rijn

Jordie is an independent email and eCRM marketing consultant. Entrepreneur Magazine titled him “One of 50 Online Marketing Influencers to Watch”. Brands like Unilever and KLM turn to him for advice. He is the founder of an international platform for Email and Marketing Automation Software selection.  Next to helping companies improve their marketing results, he is often asked as a trainer and keynote speaker. His practical and enthusiastic approach is contagious and will have you sending better emails the next day.

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