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How to Upgrade Your Retail Emails with Data-Driven Creative

Michael Becker
Michael Becker

Marketers across industries agree that one-size-fits-all emails are a practice of the past, yet many continue to leverage only surface level data to tailor content while sitting on a wealth of unlocked data. In a crowded industry like retail, you must create a customer-first narrative that builds brand affinity, and intelligent, data-driven creative is the key to pulling it off.

Use Data to Connect with Your Most Loyal Customers

Your loyalty program emails are an obvious first step in leveraging data in intelligent ways. What behaviors lead to customer advancement in your program? Is it the number of visits? Or points earned? If you deploy a monthly statement email, present each customer with moment-of-open points or rewards earned, tier level, and recent activity, just as they’d expect from the logged in state of your mobile app or website.

Bring each customer’s lifecycle status to life with an on-brand progress bar in any format — radial or linear, animated, or static. Reinforce how rewards can be used with product grids that are personalized to rewards level and layer on product affinity logic. And don’t stop at your regularly scheduled statement email! Show value to your most loyal subscribers at every touchpoint. Promotional messages can include a subtle reminder of tier level, points earned, and progress towards a reward. Offers can be eligibility flagged, ensuring that even broadcast messaging includes tailored content that rewards your most valuable customers.

This anniversary email from DSW celebrates the customer with a personalized story of the customer’s milestones with the brand — from years ‘together’ to the number of purchases and dollars-saved presented in branded fonts with custom styling.

Ensure Data is Used in Relevant Ways

Be deliberate when you present customers with information about themselves. While customers do expect some of their digital and in-person footprint to be tracked, you should never present material or content if it serves no purpose. If individual customer data is not clean, think about broadening the targeting.

For example, a national health gym called out the average number of monthly visits to the customer’s preferred studio when it did not have the customer’s visits on file. The data point, while not personalized to the individual member’s visit, was still relevant based on location. It also encouraged participation with the brand (and, in this case, to schedule a class).

Mack Weldon wanted to thank their most loyal customers with a personalized infographic that highlighted each individual’s key touchpoints, milestones, and purchases.

Bring Your Inventory to Life

Behavioral data and content can be leveraged across all touchpoints, not just contained to behaviorally-triggered messages. That means at moment-of-open, subscribers can expect messaging and content that is most accurate to their most recent behavior, regardless of the program type.

If a customer browsed black wedge heels within the past two days, present that customer tailored product recommendations upon their next broadcast email open. If the heel was purchased, follow up with complementary products that encourage the next behavior and continue the experience with your brand. Tapping into behavioral data and pairing it with product feeds via APIs ensure accuracy and relevancy leading to a boost in performance.

In addition to thinking about customer behavior, think about what you know about your inventory or site-wide performance. Trending products, total Instagram likes, or inventory remaining helps build customer urgency and desire and prompts individual action based upon holistic audience action.

Dorothy Perkins leveraged social proof (number of clicks and views) to drive urgency around their most popular products. They also used weather as a data point to encourage product interest and relevancy. Even brands that don’t have a wealth of customer data can still create these kinds of relevant experiences that drive behavior!

Don’t Overlook Testing

Never forget to test. If leveraging customer, contextual, or behavioral data is new to your program, create a test plan with attributable KPIs.

You may find that subtle messaging regarding customer preference outperforms explicit call outs. Or you may find that customer-first narratives work well in triggered emails over broadcast. It’s important to test and iterate — and of course, to rinse and repeat.

When Finish Line wanted to try a new abandoned cart banner in their emails, they used live optimization to figure out if the treatment was effective and saw an 11% increase in click-to-open rate.

Final Thoughts

Data-driven emails help to build better connections with loyal customers, create more relevant interactions, match customer browsing or buying behavior with marketing content (e.g., embedded, dynamic product recommendations), and perform testing to continuously iterate and improve.

Ultimately, integrating greater intelligence within your email marketing approach and using customer data to inform everything you’re doing will take you to the next level. ◾

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To learn more about how leading retailers are using intelligent creative to drive results, check out the eBook, Movable Ink for Retail.

About Movable Ink

Movable Ink helps digital marketers create visual experiences that move people. More than 600 of the world’s most innovative brands rely on Movable Ink’s visual experience platform to automate the creation of unique on-brand experiences for each consumer across email, web, and display. With more than 250 employees, the company is headquartered in New York City with offices in San Francisco, Chicago, and London. Request a demo or learn more at movableink.com.


About the Author


Elizabeth Ray is Senior Director of Client Experience based out of Movable Ink’s NYC HQ. Elizabeth has more than 10 years of digital marketing and account management experience.

Connect: LinkedIn@MovableInkMovableInk.com