In today’s digital-first world consumers aren’t just hoping for a more intuitive and personal digital experience, they expect it. Unfortunately, the reality is many major brands are missing the mark and unable to meet the needs of their customers because they rely on basic strategies that broadly target entire customer bases.

We recently conducted research that looks at the widening gap between consumer expectations and the reality of what eCommerce marketers can and do deliver. Our research revealed that today’s consumers want experiences tailored to their individual preferences, but fewer than half of retailers are able to deliver. The good news is there are a few strategies retailers can implement to get digital personalization right and generate significant revenue as a result.

Reassess Email Efforts

The volume of promotional emails has risen by more than 20 percent year over year, but open rates and click rates are down 7.6 and 10.5 percent, respectively. This is in large part due to the fact that many messages contain generic content that isn’t relevant for the customer receiving the email.

The good news is retailers with a healthy email subscriber base and program in place to deliver personalized email content and remarket to customers typically have a competitive advantage generating upwards of 20 percent higher revenue per email results.

Industry studies also find that retail brands that send shoppers emails to remind them that they were eyeing a particular item or left something in their cart without checking out report higher conversion rates and lifts in revenue.

The findings from our report also support this. After receiving a cart-abandonment email, more than 70 percent of consumers said they returned to a retailer’s site to complete a purchase. While it’s clear that email retargeting works, only 25 percent of top 100 merchants sent a browse-abandonment email and 49 percent sent a cart-abandonment email.

Here’s a few tactics retail marketers can consider implementing with their email programs:

DO reactivate shoppers by sending messages that respond directly to consumers’ behavior while they were engaged on the site.

DON’T send static messages that include a predetermined set of products to appeal to a broad segment of customers. Instead, determine which items are most pertinent for a large group and send emails that appeal to those audiences.

DO ensure that each message sent is individualized. Instead of promoting a limited set of popular items to all, customize the content based on what’s already known about each recipient. The promotional message can be generic, but the featured product should vary based on that shopper’s preferences.

Email Best Practices: Dynamic Content

We’re in the era of email inundation. On average, a single brand sends 170 email campaigns each year. And on the consumer side, more than half (53 percent) of a shopper’s inbox is filled with promotional messages. So how can marketers cut through the inbox clutter and get in front of their intended audience?

A key to successful email marketing programs is personalized email with dynamic content. For retail marketers, this can take the form of including content that is built around the individual’s preferences and can adjust products promoted based on available inventory in real-time. And better yet, this can be done even after the email is sent, essentially firing at open time.

Experts also believe that “real-time moment marketing” tactics, such as dynamic content that allow retailers to use contextual clues to make shopping predictions, dramatically improve email campaign results and return on investment.

Other Ways to Deliver on Consumer Expectations

In order to deliver what consumers have come to expect, marketers must design the most engaging and relevant brand experience for shoppers at any given point of engagement. Findings from our report also indicated the following:

Retailers are losing sight of the individual when they shop across multiple devices.
Just 17 percent of home pages on retailers’ mobile sites featured personalized product recommendations based on shoppers’ browsing behavior from two prior desktop site visits while logged in under the same account.

Limited site search capabilities are degrading the customer experience.
One in five consumers are interested in using voice or photo search, but not a single top 100 retailer extended either option to shoppers through primary eCommerce sites. Instead, the majority of retailers relied on basic keyword terms to itemize search results and didn’t accurately guess what a shopper might be looking for based on browsing history.

Retailers must tailor “recommended products” to consumers.
Only about four in every 10 e-retailers offered recommended products on their home pages that were updated based on a shopper’s browsing behavior, yet nearly half of consumers agree they like when retailers consider their past browsing history and online purchases when customizing marketing for them.

Despite the data-rich environment most marketers live in, the reality is many brands still aren’t doing a solid job at digital personalization. We’re in an era of marketers being challenged economically, and this is leaving hundreds of millions of dollars in incremental revenue on the floor, especially in the retail space. Even marketers with above-average personalization track records recognize the importance of staying abreast of the latest email marketing tactics and are looking to solve the personalization equation to gain a strategic advantage over their competitors.

Download the full report: “Digital Personalization: The Missed Opportunity”

About the Author: Kurt serves as the Chief Marketing Officer of Reflektion, the artificial intelligence-driven customer engagement platform for top retailers and brands worldwide. Kurt is an innovative and dynamic marketing professional with a track record of success communicating a company’s unique value proposition to potential customers, partners and market influencers through strategic and creative means.