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Marketing Trifecta: Email, Display, and Website Personalization

Posted on the 04 May 2012 by Tchu @UpStreamMPM

marketing personalization trifectaBrands are challenged with creating a consistent experience across the myriad of marketing channels that they interact with customers in. If a customer receives an email touting a promotion, they should also see retargeted display ads and website content that reflect the same promotion.

For a variety of reasons – technology limitations, internal politics between owners of different marketing channels, lack of expertise, messy databases – most brands are not providing an integrated experience for their customers.

Triggered Email

Triggered email automates messages based on customized business rules. They can be based on combinations of data -- or even the absence of data -- using web traffic, customer purchases (online and offline), and other customer activity. Some of the benefits of triggered email:

  • Increase sales performance. One client reports an increase in performance from $40/M to $400/M.
  • Higher customer engagement. Messaging the right customer at the right time with the right message creates a better customer experience.
  • Reduce email fatigue and unsubscribes. Unsubscribes can be an expensive opportunity cost since brands lose the ability to message the customer in the future.

The same behavioral and activity information that is used to identify the optimal messages for email can also be leveraged for site personalization and banner content.

For example, a customer browses the website and adds a red baby blanket to their shopping cart. The customer abandons the shopping cart, which triggers an email message the next day as a reminder. As the customer is browsing the web, she is served retargeted display ads with an image of the blanket or a coordinating accessory along with a promotional offer. When she clicks through the display ad she lands on a customized website page with the same promotional offer along with and other appropriate messaging.

Retargeted Display

Display ads have a bad rap. In general, it’s true that untargeted banner ads don’t perform well. However, through attribution studies with several large retailers, retargeted display ads have proven to perform much better than expected. In fact, a key learning is that retargeting helps to drive sales at the retail (brick and mortar) channel in addition to ecommerce.

Retargeted display advertising is typically cookie-based, with a cookie created once a user visits the company’s website. Matching a user to an email address can happen in a couple of ways: a user can click through an email to the website or can provide an email address during a transaction (saved cart, purchase, login, etc.) to create the matchback.

Display networks can serve customized messages based on the user’s behavior and activity. Creating a consistent user experience will require some coordination with your triggered email program, but will be worth the effort.

Personalized Website

There are two ways that I know of that marketers create customized websites for users:

  1. Personalized Uniform Resource Locator (or PURL) that can be personalized for each specific user of a website. PURLS can also be used to track response for both online and offline marketing. An offline example is a postcard that directs the user to a specific URL such as
  2. Dynamic “containers” on a company’s website that change based on user behavior and activity. Think of it as retargeting on your own site.

In either case, designing the containers for dynamic messaging is key to success. Consistent use of a container for a promotional message, image, or other content will allow for easy customization management without giving up the overall branding of the site. Creating a personalized website typically requires the most collaboration with creative and web development teams of the three marketing channels discussed.

The convergence of messages using triggered email, retargeting, and site personalization is the marketing trifecta for an integrated customer experience. Executed correctly, customer engagement and conversion will increase and customers will appreciate the seamless experience across channels.


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