While email is still customers' preferred channel when it comes to communication from brands, marketers are seeing a decline in click-through rates as people lose patience with unsophisticated, irrelevant or overly frequent correspondence.
This is one of the findings from a recent survey of nearly 300 email marketers conducted by VB Insight.
The report notes that while three out of four marketers surveyed are still using an automated, rules-based approach to email marketing, those using technology to their advantage are quickly pulling ahead of the industry standards.
"Probably most surprising of the survey findings is the type of data being used for email personalization," VB Insight research analyst Andrew Jones, told eWEEK. "We’ve previously found that most companies have little more than transactional history about customers, yet for email personalization behavioral data has become quite prominent. Behavioral data is not collected as commonly, but is more valuable as an indicator of real-time interest and intent."
According to the survey findings, over 90 percent of those using email personalization have seen an increase in their email open rate and click-through rate (CTR).
In addition, more than half have seen open rates and CTR increase by at least 10 percent. Nearly half of those using email personalization are using some kind of artificial intelligence or machine learning (48 percent), and quickly outpacing their peers by leveraging better audience segmentation.
"One of the biggest challenges marketers face when it comes to email personalization is data," Jones said. "It remains a big challenge to collect and unify the right data -- which is why it's surprising that over a third of the marketers surveyed personalizing email are using primarily behavioral data to do so."
Previous research from VB Insight showed that few marketers were properly capitalizing on behavioral data, which can be an incredibly valuable source for personalization.
However, this recent survey found that more than a third of marketers (36 percent) are using behavioral data as their primary data source in order to glean real-time insight into a prospects' interest and intent.
In addition, half of those surveyed are using some kind of predictive scoring or modeling. Segmentation by name (36 percent), demographics (30 percent), previous interactions (30 percent), geography (28 percent), and historical email engagement (28 percent) were the top five most commonly used data points.
"Machine learning is what will bring personalization from segments to true one-to-one engagement," Jones said. "Companies will be relevant at a scale that they can't reach today, because machine learning can learn and optimize to a degree individual marketers simply can't achieve."