Personalisation: Modern benchmarks for modern retailers

Mike Harris, international VP at Bluecore, explains the importance of measuring the impact of personalised marketing campaigns.


Consumers want personalised messaging and emerging technologies have developed to deliver on this expectation and give marketers the ability to appropriately measure the progress of email programmes.

However, as email marketing programmes become more complex, marketers who are tied to legacy tools and processes are unable to gauge the impact of their campaigns.

Outdated solutions that have not been designed to provide the metrics marketers require to understand the success of personalised campaigns leave them blind when it comes to measuring results and optimising future campaigns. Here we seek to address what these metrics are, so marketers feel empowered by the results of their personalised campaigns.

The modern era of email marketing

The personalisation imperative has without a doubt led to more complex email marketing programs. Strategies of the past, such as basic segmentation based on gender alone or adding a name to a subject line, are no longer acceptable to the consumer. With the ever-increasing influx of data personalising an email has become much more robust – it involves a series of carefully crafted elements, like planned timing, dynamic content and targeted offers, to be done well.

Yet legacy technology which lacks the foundation for ‘true’ personalisation (such as real-time data collection, consumer behaviour analysis and product interaction), makes measuring tailored campaigns near impossible.

Once upon a time, you could compare your average open rate with a standard email open rate for your industry and see how well you’re doing. Comprehending campaign results is now much more difficult for marketers because despite being capable of personalising their campaigns, measurements based on single, one-hit messages are no longer a fair way to evaluate performance. However, success can be effectively assessed through modern benchmarks that help them understand campaign performance at a macro-level.

A new way to track email performance

Email marketing campaigns can be measured by looking at traditional metrics (such as opens, clicks, conversions, revenue per email and unsubscribes), but to give real meaning to the numbers, they need to be used in two comparisons; a self comparison and a benchmark comparison. Together, these comparisons are going to give marketers important insight into campaign performance and trends.

A self comparison, done month-on-month, gives marketers the chance to track program trends on an ongoing basis and understand how different activities affect performance. For instance, are the open rates on cart abandonment emails consistent throughout the year? Such benchmarking allows marketers to measure the success of their programs over time. Self comparisons reveal time and again that personalisation leads to improvements across key email marketing metrics.

Meanwhile, a benchmark comparison puts campaign performance into perspective against the rest of the industry. A steady increase in click through rates may seem like success, but not if they are actually still below the industry average.

Modern benchmark comparisons then take into consideration a plethora of sophisticated metrics required for personalisation, such as customer spend level, purchase history, lifecycle stage and average order value. This approach enables marketers to compare their highly personalised email marketing campaigns with those of similar retailers.

Modern marketers, modern benchmarks

In order to carry out and plan campaigns effectively, marketers must recognise the modern measures of success with the increase in personalised communications. Customer behaviour and preferences, as well as product tracking, all come into play here. Messages are much more likely to be engaging if marketers have the right tools, and insights, to understand and act upon all the data that is necessary to build personalised campaigns and have the ability to refine strategies over time.

Bluecore’s 2019 Retail Email Benchmark Report provides retail email benchmarks based on the most modern, highly personalised email marketing programs. By comparing their performance month-on-month, as well as against competitors’ progress, they will have a much better understanding of how to increase revenue, increase repeat purchases and preserve margins. This helps to justify any expenditure on modern ESPs, as the solutions will ultimately deliver stronger consumer engagement, reduced customer acquisition costs and improved ROI.

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