Email marketing continues to be a highly effective, scalable, and cost-conscious digital strategy. According to Statista, the “global email marketing market was valued at $7.5 billion in 2020 and is projected to increase to $17.9 billion by 2027.” That’s a lot of emails.
For years now, personalization has been a critical element in maximizing email’s impact. But opening with “Hi, Jim” is not enough any more. Today, email only really works when recipients get what they want and what they expect from companies who understand them and their constantly changing reality. And lack of personalization can result in anything from mailing list degradation—lots of bounces and opt-outs—to overall failure of an email campaign due to escalating costs with little ROI.
No wonder the demand for hyper-personalization is reaching a peak, leaving behind brands still focused on mass campaigns that rely on static segmentation or just personalizing parts of the content.
What the heck is hyper-personalization?
Hyper-personalization leverages the latest advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), marketing automation, and real-time data to drill down to minute details and deliver highly curated and contextualized content to customers. It treats customers as individuals with distinct tastes, behaviors, and preferences, enabling brands and retailers to provide a unique customer experience that’s different for each person and, ideally, creates a close emotional bond.
Who’s doing it?
In the last year or so, the number of organizations harnessing the data they collect to deliver dynamic experiences in real time has grown exponentially—from 9 percent in 2022 up to 27 percent in 2023, according to MarketingTechNews. Intelligently capturing and integrating robust data on who their customers really are and how to reach them enables these companies to create targeted customer journeys, send triggered emails based on behavior, share custom offerings and product recommendations, and, ultimately, increase conversions.
Well-executed hyper-personalization can deliver 8x the return on investment on marketing spend, and lift sales by 10 percent or more.
SOURCE: Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2015/11/how-marketers-can-personalize-at-scale.
Research from Deloitte suggests 80 percent of customers are more likely to purchase from a company that provides a 360° customer experience. For proof of concept just look at well-known brands thriving through hyper-personalization— Amazon, Hilton, the New York Times, Nordstrom, Spotify, Netflix, Starbucks. The list could go on and on.
Can it work for B2B too?
Now, if you’re thinking this level of personalization is only for B2C brands, think again. Most B2B brands are complex enough, with layers of available customer data, to benefit as well. Marketing strategies and tactics within both segments have been converging for some time, including corporate and consumer email environments. So have the martech tools used to support campaigns. Both segments use the same kind of backend for their email platforms and can access the same artificial intelligence, machine-learning, and automation capabilities for executing hyper-personalization.
But let’s be realistic. Just because technology now allows for every interaction to be unique, and people expect a personal connection with the companies with which they interact, not every advertising effort from every organization merits Amazon-level hyper-personalization on steroids.
Is it right for my email campaigns?
It’s complicated. Purposeful, strategic hyper-personalization of email campaigns—supported by deep data, the right martech stack, and targeted content—definitely deserves your time and attention. When used appropriately, hyper-personalization clearly demonstrates to your customers that you’re paying attention to them. And that will boost response and make your company more successful.
But let’s also be realistic about this: executing hyper-personalization effectively and legally is hard. Despite the strong desire/demand for individually tailored email experiences, people simultaneously want greater privacy.
While the intent behind hyper-personalization may come from a good place—saving people time, giving them special treatment, and providing them exactly what they want or need—it can quickly venture into the creepy. People are looking for a personalized experience based on information they believe is reasonable and appropriate for a company to know about them, not invasive audience identifiers. And this is triggering not only more concern but also new regulations both at home and abroad that are making a focus on privacy and data protection an obligation.
What about privacy?
With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) redefining the rules for email marketing; Apple’s inclusion of Mail Privacy Protection, a new feature aimed at protecting users’ data from third-party apps; the imminent disappearance of cookie-based advertising; and a growing patchwork of state consumer data privacy legislation, brands must now embrace personified marketing that is privacy-first and future-proof. The obvious trend is leveraging data for the sake of the consumer as opposed to just providing the business with another source of revenue.
The answer lies in making practical as well as strategic use of the wealth of consumer data that has become available. Testing and monitoring every campaign to see what resonates as an authentic personalized experience will be key, as will actively pursuing informed consent about the data being collected. That is how hyper-personalization should—and will need to—be done going forward.
Still have questions?
Has all this information left you feeling a bit hyper about how to personalize your own email marketing? Anxious about balancing data and privacy concerns? Are you unsure if hyper-personalization is the right strategy for your business? Wondering what marketing automation tools would work best for you
Street Level Studio’s team would consider it a personal honor to help you plan and execute email campaigns that reach the right people at the right time via truly creative, custom, and authentically personal experiences.