Blueshift helps you prevent personlization pitfalls personlization fails - avoid sending ugly emails

Avoid Personalization Pitfall # 5: Ugly Personalization!

In this series, we cover the common pitfalls all marketers face at some point when scaling personalization in their triggered marketing. From emails to mobile push notifications to SMS to display retargeting, the common platforms used today to market across channels begin to lose efficacy when organizations try to personalize their communications to an ever more complex and growing customer base.

Personalization Can Get Ugly



Watch this video to learn more about this subject from Brian Monahan, former CMO of Walmart.com 


Please, stop sending ugly emails…especially if you are going through the trouble of personlizing them. (Strike that, just don’t send ugly emails.)

Marketers using legacy systems often find that they are unable to combine “automation” with “creative” in these systems. As a result, some of the automated messages delivered by these legacy systems look ugly & “too automated” instead of personalized and delightful.

The inconsistency originates from using systems that are so complicated that the marketers have to pull in the IT and design team to execute a certain responsive ad or email and the creativity of the marketer is left behind. The customer should have a visually consistent experience as they move from one channel to another. Be it your website, app, push notification, or email, the same unique look should come across in every touch point.

Simple, Clean Designs Delight

In our experience with billions of emails and hundreds of email designs it is evident that the cleaner, simpler, and more seamless layouts get the highest CTRs and conversion rates. The goal of reaching out to customers is to delight them with a message that will bring them back to your site rather than drive them away with ugly looking emails or push notifications.

Here is an example of an email with a poor personalization design:

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This is a welcome email for signing up with Sheplers website. First thing you notice is that you cannot tell what they sell from this email. There is no mention of my name to make this personal. There are no images of products that catch your eye or a call to action. Overall this email does not provide much value to the customer.

Here is an example of a nicely designed, personalized email:

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This birthday email from LaserAway is a good way to bring back customers to your store or just staying on top of mind. There are exclusive offers and discounts to take advantage of specifically for the birthday week. There is an urgency and promotion that customers can act on.

When designing your emails, ask yourself if it is something YOU would like to receive. Or ask your team mates, friends, or your mom. Just please, don’t design ugly personalized emails.


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To learn more about all the common personalization pitfalls covered in this series, watch this VentureBeat Webinar that provides real world examples and fixes you can start using now.


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  • Receive an audit of your current triggered activities with a marketing consultant

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Personalization Pitfall #4: Poor Historical View of the Customer

In this series, we cover the common pitfalls all marketers face at some point when scaling personalization in their triggered marketing. From emails to mobile push notifications to SMS to display retargeting, the common platforms used today to market across channels begin to lose efficacy when organizations try to personalize their communications to an ever more complex and growing customer base.

Poor Historical View of the Customer



Watch this video to learn more about this subject from Brian Monahan, former CMO of Walmart.com 


Lifecycle marketing is a highly engaging way companies can re-activate or re-engage old customers. Using past interaction and transactions online, companies surface relevant products and promotions through different channels to influence a purchase. Sounds simple enough right? On the contrary having a 360 degree view of your customers over a long period of time and in real-time is very tricky for most businesses and our pitfall number 4.

Out with the old…

An old approach to this strategy has been to remarket to customers based on each item they browsed without taking their historical behavior into consideration. If a customer is browsing patio chairs, hammocks, and outdoor umbrellas, they are probably looking to furnish their backyard. Offering them 5 options of patio chairs might not be the best way to influence a sale.

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Overcome Amnesia of Your Customers

Your product recommendation engine has to be smart enough to suggest “next best products” or “complete-the-look products” or a product in the same category or brand. Only personalized, smart product placement and recommendations can work to win back customers in the highly competitive market of today.

The key to re-marketing the right way is to connect every piece of user behavior and past purchase in real-time with a deep knowledge of the company’s catalog. Using a holistic customer view, marketers can provide a hyper-personalized story relevant to each user’s context.


Subscribe Now to this series
To learn more about all the common personalization pitfalls covered in this series, watch this VentureBeat Webinar that provides real world examples and fixes you can start using now.


  • Each update sent directly to you with extra tips NOT included in the blog posts
  • Access to the VentureBeat Webinar with former head of marketing at Walmart.com
  • Receive an audit of your current triggered activities with a marketing consultant

BLueshift solves the message overload problem for marketers. Monitor the frequency of all of your messages across all channels to avoid annoying your customers

Personalization Pitfall 3: Customer Message Overload

In this series, we cover the common pitfalls all marketers face at some point when scaling personalization in their triggered marketing. From emails to mobile push notifications to SMS to display retargeting, the common platforms used today to market across channels begin to lose efficacy when organizations try to personalize their communications to an ever more complex and growing customer base.

Overcoming the Message Overload Pitfall


Watch this video to learn more about this subject from Brian Monahan, former CMO of Walmart.com 


When you build out your company’s personalized marketing landscape you soon find your volume of messages increasing exponentially. As you set up re-engagement campaigns along the customer journey, the volume of messages across all channels can quickly add up to 10 or 15 different messages. Of course, that doesn’t mean you send them all 10 of these messages in one day or even a week. Customers feel overwhelmed if their inbox is flooded with one particular company emailing them again and again. Message overload is a sure way of ending up in your customer’s spam folder or worse, unsubscribing from all your communications. This rapid deluge of communications to your customers is our pitfall #3.

Don’t Be Annoying…

Message Overload across all channels is a personalization pitfall

Finding the balance between quality and quantity will save marketers from those dreaded mistakes of sending a customer too many messages in a day. But how do you make sure you aren’t sending to many messages across all your channels?

The way to achieve message zen is by smart segmentation of customers who fit a certain criteria based on their attributes and behavior on site. Behavior-based marketing resonates better than single trigger marketing because it tends to be more accurate rather than an in-the-moment action or even sloppy demographic focused bucketing. Grouping together customers who have shown similar behavior and sending a set of targeted messages that are personalized to their persona is a controlled way of using triggers on your site.

Think Beyond the Inbox…

“don’t simply focus on the amount of messages you send per channel, look at the aggregate of ALL of your messages sent through all of your channels”

Another way of working around the message overload problem is to build and monitor multi channel campaigns. Marketers constantly compete for inbox space along with numerous other brands. When’s the last time you looked at your inbox and didn’t feel like you were being yelled at by dozens of brands? A quick reminder to complete your purchase and checkout can easily be done via text message or push notification – abandoned cart campaigns are not simply just an email tactic. Dividing your messages across different channels can keep your brand name top of mind and limit annoying your customers. And remember, don’t simply focus on the amount of messages you send per channel, look at the aggregate of ALL of your messages sent through all of your channels. Otherwise, you still run the likely risk of annoying your customers with message overload.


Subscribe Now to this series
To learn more about all the common personalization pitfalls covered in this series, watch this VentureBeat Webinar that provides real world examples and fixes you can start using now.


  • Each update sent directly to you with extra tips NOT included in the blog posts
  • Access to the VentureBeat Webinar with former head of marketing at Walmart.com
  • Receive an audit of your current triggered activities with a marketing consultant

Personalization Will Make or Break Holiday Season Campaigns

Customers demand respect from retailers. They ask simply for organizations to remember who they are as an individual consumer from a transaction and a behavioral perspective — otherwise, they are likely to purchase less frequently, or, more than likely, churn to a competitor who does understand them and communicate with them better at that individual level.

Personalize, personalize, personalize!

This has been the mantra of marketers looking to communicate with their customers at a highly relevant and engaging way. According to the latest report by Accenture covered by MediaPost:

  • 56% of respondents acknowledged they were more likely to shop at a retailer that recognized them by name
  • 65% of consumers expressed a preference for retailers that remembered their purchase history
  • 58% of respondents were more likely to shop at stores that offered relevant recommendations based on past purchases or preferences

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The need for smarter cross-channel personalization…

It’s important to point out that marketers are being asked to personalize across all channels, not just one or two. In fact, as the Accenture report highlighted, less than 50% of consumers completed a purchased based on an on-site product recommendation. The perpetually connected consumer now enters the buying cycle from a number of channels and touch points: email, Facebook, SMS, mobile push notifications, in-app personalizations, and numerous others.

And forget about flooding a consumer with a higher number of product recommendations. The “Quantity over Quality” tactic is similar to annoying batch and blast techniques used within emails by out-of-touch marketers. Filling a page or a communication with a dizzying number of recommendations only annoys and splits the buyers attention away from products that they are more likely to purchase. According to the report, almost 40% of respondents admitted to abandoning an online shopping experience altogether because of an overwhelming choice of recommendations

The “Burden of Choice” is in the hands of the brand. Brands must serve only the best recommendations to the right person built through predictive algorithms that sift through the dozens or even hundreds of “best products” that could be delivered to the consumer and transform that into the best few.

Read the full article on MediaPost.

 

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Personalization Pitfall #2: Old-School Linear Customer Journey

Marketers rely on customer journey mapping to optimize what customers see every step of the way. But with the rise of multiple devices and the perpetually connected customer (a.k.a “perpetuals”), it is becoming harder for marketers to define the different ways a customer interacts with content or products. In today’s increasingly complex environment, marketers must change the way they conceptualize a path to purchase and adopt a new paradigm — real-time context.

Perpetual’s can’t be pigeonholed into old-school linear journeys. They carve their own path to purchase and the number of possible paths to purchase increase exponentially due to multiple devices and different intents. Perpetuals too often turn to their phones in search of information, whether they’re at the gym, commuting to work, or shopping for groceries. Google refers to these spontaneous instances of discovery as micro-moments, and they’re opportunities for brands to meet their customers at moments of intent.

An example is that Jack could be leaving the gym and thinking about buying another pair of gym shorts which he searches for on his phone and places in his cart. A few hours later, he remembers he has to go to a friend’s birthday in a week and starts looking at gift options for them on his laptop. Tech savvy marketers have to be able to react to the changing needs of customers like Jack as his intent changes, in real-time, across different channels, and with the right content.

Watch this video to learn more about this subject from Brian Monahan, former CMO of Walmart.com:

Personalization Pitfall 1: Outdated messages

Common Problems Faced when Scaling Personalization – Part 1

In this series, we cover the common pitfalls all marketers face at some point when scaling personalization in their triggered marketing. From emails to mobile push notifications to SMS to display retargeting, the common platforms used today to market across channels begin to lose efficacy when organizations try to personalize their communications to an ever more complex and growing customer base. The problems stem from generic/ out-of-the-box triggers, poor segmentation, outdated information, lack of real-time processing, and disconnected channels, to name a few.

If these pitfalls aren’t addressed in your marketing strategy, you risk pushing customers away, often to your competition. By building a better personalized customer experience across all channels, you build more loyal returning customers. Customers today demand 1:1 communication and a high degree of relevancy in any marketing message.

Subscribe Now to this series


  • Each update sent directly to you with extra tips NOT included in the blog posts
  • Access to the VentureBeat Webinar with former head of marketing at Walmart.com
  • Receive an audit of your current triggered activities with a marketing consultant

Personalization Pitfall #1: Outdated messages

According to Forrester Research, “Trigger based email marketing campaigns can generate 4x more revenue and 18x greater profits”. Triggered messages are known to be 5 times more responsive than batch and blast campaigns, which makes triggered marketing communication very attractive to marketers. As simple as it is to send out triggered messages, it is also that much easier to get them wrong. Triggered messages are personalized based on a user’s engagement with your website or mobile app. The timing and content has to be precise because any delay in the data or message can lead to outdated messages being sent to your customers who then in-turn will unsubscribe because they feel spammed, and will often take to social media to voice their opinions:

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One of the most common pitfalls we hear about from marketers using triggers is their customers getting outdated messages through retargeting. It’s very common for customers to receive a display ad or email about a product they have already bought; or a recommendation for a product that has nothing to do with their purchase history or recent interaction with the brand. “54% of consumers would consider ending their relationship with a retailer if they are not given tailor-made, relevant content and offers.” Retailers can no longer afford to run outdated triggered marketing through their legacy systems. It pushes customers away and shows a lack of respect for your customer’s buying habits.

Here is a small recording on this very issue from our webinar with VentureBeat, “How to become a personalization ninja and delight every customer“:



become_a_personalization_ninja_with_blueshiftTo learn more about all the common personalization pitfalls covered in this series, watch this VentureBeat Webinar that provides real world examples and fixes you can start using now.

Subscribe to this series for instant access to the full video.>>


Focus on Real-Time Data

Most retargeting campaigns are based on customer actions, browsed products and abandoned cart being some very common triggers. But if the systems of record (CRM) and systems of action (ESP, DSP, Facebook retargeting, etc) are not synced in real-time when a customer makes a purchase, this faulty cycle will keep repeating itself. Unless customer data is updated in real-time, there will always be outdated information being presented in display ads or emails going out to customers.

Personalization Pro Tips:

Blueshift has worked with several marketing leaders that have scaled their personalized marketing programs to deliver engaging personalized user experiences. Here are our top tips to get the most out of your personalization efforts:

  • Don’t settle for Near Real-Time: For the best customer experience, use systems that enable you to personalize with true real-time information.
  • Remain goal oriented: Understand your key performance indicators and how they affect the entire campaign, not a single send.
  • Personalize across channels: Use multiple marketing channels to scale your marketing program, instead of limiting it to email.

Beyond Basics : Advanced Personalization strategies for Re-marketing Triggers

Re-marketing based on behavioral triggers like abandoned cart, abandoned search and abandoned view are must do’s for any digital marketer to engage customers and bring them back to your site or app. More often than not it’s very tempting to do just the basics, may be your e-commerce platform vendor gives few out of box “widgets” to replay the content or products and you can tick a box and call it done. But that would be waste of a great opportunity to engage with your users fully at the moment they are most interested in your offerings and showcase the full depth and breadth of your catalog.

Imagine your self in the shoes of your customer – They were on your site or app for a reason. Why did they abandon their visit? Are they looking for better price? Are they looking for affordable alternatives? Are they looking for quality recommendations? Are they looking for things that go along with their previous purchases? Are they looking for hot new products they heard about? Or are they just window shopping? May be it’s mix or all of them and you can’t tell. But you can tell a better story than replaying what they have seen. Multi-touch campaigns over their preferred channel with content personalized to each user are a great way to showcase and up sell your offerings.

Here are few advanced personalization strategies to try, going beyond replaying the products your customer has viewed or added to cart.

  1. Related Products : “What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?” Based on the product that was abandoned you should consider including these in your messages. Very often this is helpful as a first touch in moving your customer down the conversion funnel helping them make informed choices.
  2. Up-sell Products : “What are the top sellers in the category of the item viewed”? Based on the category of the product that was abandoned you can showcase your best sellers from those categories and optionally you can restrict it to specific brands.
  3. Trending Products : May be some of your products are not best sellers yet but they have been recently added to your catalog and are already selling out. Consider including them in your messaging with appropriate call outs.
  4. Affordable Alternatives : Your catalog likely has a breadth of products that are in the same category but are more affordable. Add them as alternative recommendations.
  5. Most Discounted Products : Your customers will likely want “quality” products but want them to be affordable getting most value for their money. And may be you are doing seasonal promotions or roll backs. Consider tying them together to the product and category of the abandoned product.

Depending upon your catalog and the number of touch points you have with your customers you can do all of the above or a mix of them. At Blueshift we have built a DIY Personalization Studio to do all of the above and more without needing to go through development or IT cycles. Re-marketing based on behavior triggers is the most effective messaging you can do as a digital marketer. Do not waste a great opportunity to win over the customer by doing just the basics. Learn more about behavioral triggers with our comprehensive e-book. Learn how our clients like UrbanLadder are using advanced personalization strategies to improve their conversion rates by 400%. If you are ready to take your triggered marketing to the next level say hello.

3 Tips To Avoid #Personalization #Fail

Marketing personalization holds the promise of delighting your users, and drive dramatically higher conversions. However, poorly executed personalization can sometimes lead to what can only be described as #personalization #fail. How can marketers avoid this? Read on for our top three tips on avoid

1. Use Conditional Logic to Deal With Missing Data

Addressing users by an incorrect name, or worse still as “#FIRSTNAME# or FNAME, is one of the most offending mistakes marketers can make. Most customer databases contain missing entries for first name and other attributes. Thankfully, personalization systems these days let you use conditional logic in your templates to check if data is missing and select a better salutation in these cases.   

2. Personalize your Merchandising based on the Audience you target 

It’s important to segment your audience correctly, and select the right kind of personalized merchandising for each audience. An audience of users who were browsing your website yesterday might be best served by merchandise that’s re-targeted based on their browse behavior, and collaborative filtering (“people who liked this also liked that”); but a different audience of users who have shown a strong affinity for one category or brand over another might be best targeted by affinity-based merchandising. You can create other audiences or segments based on a combination of behavioral, demographic, and lifecycle cues, and appropriately select the right personalized merchandising for each of these audiences.

Getting the audience and the merchandising right is absolutely critical to personalization success.

3. Stitch together data from all platforms

The last kind of personalization failure we discuss today happens when you don’t connect all your data sources across store, web and mobile. Often times, marketers trigger messages based on the user’s behavior on the website, without accounting for the possibility that the same user might have completed a purchase on a different platform (e.g. a store or a mobile app). Building a cross-platform view of the user is the only way to successfully market to today’s perpetually connected customer.

At Blueshift, we help our customers avoid these pitfalls by constructing a cross-platform view of users, providing full flexibility in defining your audiences and merchandising, as well as enabling template customization options. These are just some of the basic ingredients towards targeting a Segment-of-One across all your marketing channels.