- Over 4.6 billion people use email, more than ever before.
- Personalization is becoming more sophisticated.
- Venues are using CDPs to improve their personalization initiatives and creating microsegments for more targeted marketing programs.
- Many companies have started collecting a lot more first-person data, to help offset the looming privacy programs from Apple and Google
- Marketing automation is creating better, more relevant journeys, and is affordable for most venues
Email continues to grow in importance — not just for retention marketing, but also as a broad means of communication. That’s surprising to some people, who believe that everyone does all their messaging via texting and social posts. But according to Statista, there are currently 4.2 billion people using email worldwide, and this is expected to grow to almost 4.6 billion users in 2025. There are currently 246 million email users in the USA. On that basis, I like to keep up with the trends that impact the industry.
According to the Pew Research Center, in 2018 78% of teens used email, and 67% monitor email on their phone. 67% say that they prefer communications to come in email form. Over half of millennials read email even before getting out of bed.
While there are a lot of posts about “top trends” in email marketing, I’m not sure how many of them are relevant to most marketers. Interactive emails using AMP is cool, but it takes a lot of technical know-how to make it work, and it only really works in Gmail. So here are my thoughts on the most mentioned trends expected to matter in 2022.
Personalization matters more and more to consumers. Not the “Dear John Smith” kind, but the implementation of the technology that makes our communication and offers more relevant to the recipient.
Relevancy is the name of the game, not cheap tricks. Nobody feels great when they look at a green handbag on a website and then suddenly see ads featuring green handbags wherever they go. What consumers want is for products they are interested in to be on your home page. And in your newsletter. “Here are some other products that compliment what you bought last time” is also a win. Relevancy and transparency can often overcome creepy.
Recent surveys indicate that two-thirds of marketers are working towards expanding their personalization initiatives, and one-third say it is the most important thing they are working on in 2022. And why not? Emails with personalized subject lines get opened more, and personalized emails deliver significantly higher transactions.
How You Can Implement Personalization
Regardless of what technology you have available, at the very least you can use basic personalization capabilities such as names in subjects, pre-headers, and copy. If you can, you should also split up your emails by what admission products your customers own and what they bought before. But you should also be looking at some of the more advanced capabilities your competitors are using.
CDPs and Micro-Segmentation
In 2022, marketers will take their list segmentation efforts further than ever before. People have been segmenting their lists for decades, splitting up their offers by geography, demographics, psychographic and behavior — what’s different now though are two things: widely available artificial intelligence embedded in marketing automation software and massive amounts of data that provide the capabilities to use it.
A Customer Data Platform (CDP) is a fairly simple concept, but some that requires a lot of resources to get right. It’s basically a big database that lets you combine everything you know about all of your customers. And I mean everything. For example, if you’re a theme park, you can capture not just when people visit, but also everything they buy both online and at the park. Using your mobile app, you can capture every ride they go on and even how much time they take to walk from one attraction to the next. You can tie that in with which coupons they use, what pages of your website they browse…etc.
A CDP, tied in with your CRM, doesn’t just let you collect the data. A good CDP system makes it easy to (a) use that data to understand your guests better; and (b) leverage that data to create more relevant offers and more personalized experiences.
The idea is that with artificial intelligence, you can create really small microsegments — small groups of customers that share the same interests — and then you can give them automatically generated offers that appeal specifically to that group. For example, are you deal with Moms who love drop towers? Then why not automatically send a skip-the-line pass for your drop tower along with a ticket deal? Families with young kids who enjoy whack-a-mole? Why not give them a free game play for their next visit?
You can’t create microsegments by hand, nor can you manually send out offers to hundreds — maybe even thousands — of microsegments. What you need to make this kind of content programming work are automated systems and the staffing to do it automatically. The good news is that this technology is getting more affordable even for smaller venues. The bad news is that it still requires a lot of work, and a certain amount of training, strategy, and planning — to get it right.
How You Can Leverage Microsegments in 2022
CDPs are slowly becoming accessible to smaller businesses and venues, but they still require investment both in terms of system costs and maintenance/operating expertise. If you can’t afford to invest now, leverage the capabilities of the email system that you have to try to send different contents based on pass holder status, visit status, and potentially age/visit party composition status.
Increased Focus On First-Party Data Collection
Google and Apple have been slowly rolling out personalization programs that are going to make it harder for advertisers to target consumers, so many companies are collecting as much 1st-party data about their customers and website visitors so they won’t be as reliant on services that use 3rd-party cookies for digital advertising.
Google announced a couple of years ago that Chrome will start blocking all 3rd-party cookies in 2023. 80% of ads rely on these cookies to provide personalization, since it is what identifies you to advertisers. Various schemes have been cooked up to try to get around this, but in the end it is going to be a lot harder to serve up personalized, relevant digital ads. Apple has already taken similar steps with iOS.
One way to mitigate this is to improve your capabilities to reach out to your most likely customers/visitors: those who are already buying things, and those who visit your website. You can still leverage the data you collect from your guests yourself to advertise them through social advertising or other platforms where your customers are known/identified. That’s why so many companies are already working on programs to collect as much information as possible.
What You Can Do in 2022
Talk with your advertising agency about how Google and Apple’s personalization initiatives will impact your advertising in 2023, and whether there is anything you should be doing now to plan ahead.
More Focus on Marketing Automation
Marketing automation is a function provided by many email service providers that allows you to string together multiple emails, texts, app messages, and other actions into “journeys” that can be customized based on the the actions of the recipient. It allows you to do very sophisticated, individualized campaigns — one recipient at a time. This is a vast improvement over blast messages sent to your entire database, and a boon for your personalization strategy.
Even some of the less expensive email service providers now offer some level of marketing automation. I use Mailchimp to manage the mailing list connected to this website, and the automation capabilities it offers (even with just a minimal investment) aren’t bad at all. Sure, the more you spend, the better the capabilities (a fancy program like Salesforce allows you to create journeys that include email, app notifications, and SMS messages).
Depending on the tools that you use to manage your marketing automation, you can do much more than send messages. You can, for example, award guests loyalty points, or send them a coupon, or inform one of your group sales representatives that a guest has opened their newsletter and expressed an interest in your upcoming festival.
The top reasons companies say they are using more automation for email is to streamline their marketing/sales efforts (less manual work); to improve customer engagement (with more relevant, responsive content); and to improve the customer experience.
How You Can Use Email Marketing Automation in 2022
Unless you are using really antiquated email tools, your system likely supports some level of marketing automation and user journeys. However, to do it effectively you need to be collecting and organizing data about your guests and you need to focus on developing content that supports it. Then you just need to put together some journeys, and begin testing!