Woman with gray hair having a personalized customer experience on her computer thanks to help from AI

We’re continuing to see the many powerful applications for AI. Along with potentially useful creative tools, AI excels at data collection and parsing. Now, we’re seeing that algorithmic power combine with marketing expertise to create a personalized and relevant customer experiences for small businesses. Rosewood will explain what personalization and relevance in marketing are, and how AI is a powerful tool for a marketing team to create personally relevant marketing for any customer or client experiences.

Personalization, Relevancy, and AI in Marketing

Personalization has been a major tool in marketing for over a decade. It emphasizes marketing that communicates personally to the individual members of your audience over broader, more general marketing campaigns that lack a specific target. While this might include one-off custom communications or exchanges, it can also be automated. For example, emails or messages can automatically address receivers by their first names. 

Overall, customers have come to expect personalized experiences that respect their individuality and interests. At least 71% of customers expect a personalized experience, and a greater 76% are frustrated when they don’t have one. Personalization has also demonstrated an average 10-15% revenue lift, which increases to 25% for direct to consumer businesses. These individualized experiences create stronger personal connections, which lead to more customers and clients returning for more purchases and services. This is where small businesses can excel over larger companies that typically provide more generalized customer experiences.

Thanks to AI, more complex and valuable data can be gathered from users to create even more personalized marketing that is relevant to customers’ interests and experiences. This is why relevancy has become an essential marketing criterion alongside personalization. These algorithms and AI automations can consider browsing history, page time, social media data, and more. Marketers can then use this information and tell these programs how to generate product recommendations, personalized notifications, curated packages, communications, and more. These AI help your business understand the true, individual interests of each of your customers so that any marketing that reaches them is relevant.  

Where AI Can Help with Personalization and Relevancy

As we’ve covered before, AI is a general term. It’s recently become the common title for various programs which can learn from data to accomplish more complex tasks. For personalized and relevant marketing, these AI can sift through an overwhelming amount of user information that would take far more time for a human. That’s why AI is a powerful tool for small businesses who usually won’t be able to dedicate a person to poring through this information. Instead, AI is a valuable tool for your marketing team to build effective strategies for relevant marketing campaigns. We’ll go over some of the most effective uses of AI in personalized marketing.

E-Commerce Tracking

When customers are on your website or digital store, AI software can track what they browse and for how long. It will also track any purchases, wishlisting, shares, etc. This tracking isn’t especially new, but more developments in machine learning allow AI to start grouping and interpreting the data. All that behavioral information from many customers, allows an AI to develop customer groups and profiles according to their interests and various other demographics like age and area. These can then be used for a plethora of personalized and relevant marketing strategies.

Relevant Email Marketing

With this detailed profile generation, AI can then begin to automatically message subscribed customers about product recommendations or send communications that are more relevant to their interests. This will still require a human to create and design the message and templates. However, the AI can take over the busy work of adding appropriate products and sending the emails off. 

Your marketing team can also use these AI-generated profiles to analyze your audience and segment your email recipients to start creating emails more relevant to each group’s interests. This will lead to more opens and clicks, since they will better grab your audience’s attention. Again, AI can’t quite handle the creation process itself. Human expertise is still necessary for effective personalized marketing.

Personalized Website Customer Experiences

By tracking their ecommerce behavior, AI incorporated into your site can start to tailor customers’ website experience to be more relevant. Products listed on the front page or recommended to them at other browsing stages can be specified to their personal interests. This keeps them in your store and more likely to purchase, since they will continue to see what is relevant to their interests in your business.

Personalized Chatbots

Customer service is an important part of your daily, individualized marketing, and instant messaging through your website, social media, and SMS has become a fundamental customer service tool. Those messages can also be overwhelming and chatbots can help manage the flood. However, they are also often robotic and simple. Current advances in AI famously happening with Chat-GPT and Google Bard are allowing chat bots to accomplish more complex tasks and communications. They can address the customer by name, and even potentially pull up their profile’s information. They aren’t quite at the level of replacing a human’s social finesse or able to handle more complex inquiries. However, they have made great strides where simple interactions can be accomplished entirely automatically for a pleasant and personalized customer experience.

Don’t Forget About Human Expertise

AI technology is currently surging in its development and it’s still hard to see where it will end up in the coming months and years. It’s already showing it’s a powerful tool for personalized marketing, but don’t let it completely override the human touch of your business either. Ultimately, personalized connections are human ones, and customers want that human connection with your business. Similarly, AI is still limited in its abilities. Analyzing information, writing messages, creating visual content, and more still require human ingenuity and expertise. If you want to talk more about how you can strategize and incorporate AI into your digital marketingecommerce, or web design, be sure to contact Rosewood Marketing.

Computer mouse over a spam inbox with 372 emails

Email is still one of the most powerful marketing tools and platforms for communicating with your audience and customers. With over 4 billion users, most people prefer to receive brand communications via email. However, your email marketing and communications can only work well if your email retains a healthy reputation and avoids spam complaints. Otherwise, you’ll impair your ability to communicate with your customers, market effectively, and could even suffer fines. This can all be a little complex, so to help you understand all this, we’ve created a comprehensive guide to email reputation and spam complaints.

What is Email or Sender Reputation?

Email is extremely easy to send and automate. As a result, it’s also easy for someone to send countless unsolicited emails. If there were no filtering and monitoring systems, everyone’s inbox would quickly become inundated, at least more than they already are, with emails. As a result, internet service providers (ISPs) and email service providers (ESPs), like Gmail, use reputation systems to separate legitimate emails from fake or malicious ones. They track the his reputation by the number of emails sent in a certain time, their open rates, the engagement levels, and parsing the email text for malicious or deceitful content. If too many are sent, unopened, or users report your emails as spam, your email domain’s reputation reduces. If it drops too low, your emails become undeliverable. Conversely, if emails are opened and clicked, the reputation increases and emails will reach their targeted inboxes.

Why is a Low Sender Reputation Bad?

If an email domain has a bad reputation, their emails will be filtered to the junk/spam folder or worse, never reach a mailbox. In either case, your email marketing and communications won’t reach the recipients’ main inboxes and will remain unopened. Developing a bad email reputation becomes a circular problem. As less emails reach recipients’ inboxes and reroute to spam folders, your audience opens and enages with less emails. If low enough, further negatively impacts your reputation. A bad reputation won’t affect just newsletters or other broad communications. With a low enough reputation, even purchase or order updates won’t be delivered. That’s why maintaining a healthy email reputation is vital to your business’ online operation as well as its marketing. 

Developing a Healthy Email Reputation

When you start sending email communications, your email will have little to no reputation, good or bad. As a result, you will need to slowly build up and strengthen it. To do this you will need to start sending emails that are opened and clicked. Shipping and purchase confirmations will help with this. If you are sending communications to a set of subscribers, like a newsletter, you will start sending in smaller batches to avoid looking like an automated spammer. Most email services, like Klaviyo, provide this as a warming up process. You will also need to repeat the same warming process should you change your ESP.

Some other strategies to increase sender reputation are to only include links to reputable websites. Personalizing emails will increase your open rate, indirectly improving your reputation. You will also want to avoid any spam complaints, so be sure to send emails to recipients who have consented and are expecting to receive emails from your business. 

Avoiding Spam Complaints

One of the main things that can harm your email sender reputation out of your direct control are spam complaints. Most ESPs allow for users to identify and report an email they’ve received as spam. When they do this, the complaint is registered to the ESP, and ISPs track this event. As a result, your reputation will quickly reduce as multiple users report your emails as spam. To avoid those, you will want to send emails that are expected and wanted by your audience. It’s also good to avoid spammy phrases, like “free”, “bargain”, “cash”, or all capitals. Users are more likely to immediately report these emails as spam, and ESPs can automatically filter these phrases to spam. 

Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation

Avoiding spam complaints isn’t just a matter of interest and email efficacy. It’s also the law in Canada since 2014. Canada has anti-spam legislation (CASL) which makes it illegal to send unsolicited emails or messages to those who haven’t provided their consent. Lack of consent is a primary issue and is the cause of over half (68%) of reports made to CASL. Consent is either explicit (someone has agreed verbally or in writing to receive emails) or implicit (a previous interaction with your business allows you to send pertinent emails for a limited time.

To send newsletters or other broad marketing communications under CASL, you need explicit or implicit consent. However, implicit consent is time-limited at a maximum of 24 months, still requires thorough records proving it, and most third-party platforms have more strict terms of service that will require explicit consent regardless. That’s why it’s best practice to and we recommend you obtain explicit consent. Plus, consent must be easily revokable at any time through an unsubscribe link at the bottom of your email. Many email marketing platforms such as Klaviyo and Mailchimp will require you to have one in your email before it can be sent and will include one for you.

If you lack that consent and send emails, your business is in breach of CASL and recipients can report you to the government. Nearly 6800 reports are submitted weekly. Enough reports can lead to an investigation and possible fines. Fines begin at a few thousand dollars, but an individual can be charged per violation up to a maximum of $1 million, while a business can be required to pay up to $10 million for spamming recipients. Along with the fines, your business’ violations and penalties will be recorded on the government of Canada’s website. That will harm more than just your email’s reputation. Plus, ISPs and ESPs monitor these lists, and your business will be recorded, requiring you to rebuild your sender reputation.

The Responsibility of Email

Email is a powerful marketing and communication tool but needs to be used responsibly to maintain a healthy sender reputation. If you fail to respect spam legislation and proper communication standards, your sender reputation will drop, directly impairing your business’ ability to communicate with its customers and audience. If you want to learn more about build a healthy email reputation, have interest in the exact requirements of CASL, or want to learn how to obtain explicit consent, contact Rosewood’s marketing team who are experts on all things email.

Paige working at a laptop, curating to build the best email audiences for our clients

Email is still one of the best ways to communicate with and market to your audience. It remains an essential communication tool used by the majority of the population and is how most customers prefer to receive communications from brands. However, email’s strength as a marketing tool depends on the quality of your audience list. An engaged audience is interested in your newsletters, with a substantial portion opening, reading, and clicking them. The key is building that perfect subscriber list. We’ll explain the proven strategies for building your best email audience list in this blog.

A Visible and Present Email Signup

You might only just be starting your email newsletter and need to build your subscriber list or you’re looking to grow it to a more substantial following. To get more users, you will need them to voluntarily sign up and explicitly consent to receiving your emails. Provide an email signup that is always accessible to users. The standard place to put an email signup is in your website’s footer. This will provide a visible but unobtrusive signup form on every page of your site. No matter what page a user visits, they can see the option to sign up. Another option is at your point of sale (POS) online and in-person. Your online checkout can include a simple checkbox where users can provide their consent to receive email signups. As customers check out in your brick-and-mortar store, you can similarly provide an opportunity for them to sign up by offering digital receipts.

A Website Popup

Another standard method for collecting emails is a website prompt that offers users an email signup form. This ensures every visitor learns about your email list in case they do not see the form in your website’s footer. Be sure to delay this popup to at least 30 seconds or one minute after someone has been browsing your website. Also, the popup should be easily closed and not obscure the entire webpage. If a popup is too immediate and obtrusive, it will only annoy new visitors to your website. Imagine someone asking you to buy a car before getting a test drive or even seeing the interior. Give users a moment to recognize your business’ value proposition so their interest is piqued. They will then be more likely to want to sign up for your newsletter when prompted.

Enticing Sign Ups

It can help to incentivize users and customers to sign up to your email newsletter. A prevalent but effective strategy is to provide a one-time discount to those who subscribe to your newsletter for the first time. This is great for those already browsing and/or shopping on your site, where the footer and popup can notify them of this discount. To attract other users, we recommend hosting a giveaway or contest where signing up to your newsletter is a requirement for entry. With an enticing prize, users will happily agree to provide their email. Note if you are a service-based business providing a discount will also work, or alternatively, you could provide a sampling of what you provide, such as a free template or one module of a course you provide.

Collect Pertinent Information for Your List

You want to make your signup process simple and fast, otherwise users may abandon it and never join your list. However, there is some essential information you want to collect. Besides the necessary email and explicit consent, you will also want to collect their first and last name. This will help specify the customer in your email system, and you will be able to automatically send emails personalized to their first name in the body text and subject line of future emails. Such personalization gets their attention and can increase open rates by up to 50%

Further Personalization for the Best Email Audience

More information about your email subscribers will allow you to craft even more personalized emails. This can include automated communications, such as product recommendations. You don’t and can’t collect that data from the start. Instead, that is information you can gather based on their purchases or browsing behaviour on your website. Email platforms can connect to your ecommerce to unify this information. Another method for obtaining some more of this information is to provide voluntary surveys that help you collect valuable information. 

The Best Email Audience is a Clean Email Audience

A lot of this has focused on growing and expanding the information in your email list. However, a bigger email list is not always better. Be sure to regularly clean out your email audience of any disengaged members. Subscribers who don’t open or click your emails will negatively impact these rates, but more importantly, won’t give you a proper sense of what email content is resonating. Set up automations that both sunset and try to win back these subscribers. In either case, you will have a reengaged subscriber or cleaned your list to be more effective.

Constant Maintenance

All these strategies are essential to building your best email audience. Just like the perfect garden, the truly best email list needs to be constantly maintained with sowing, fertilizing, pruning, and weeding. If you’re wanting to start email newsletters, expand your audience, or set up crucial automations, contact us about our expert email services.