It’s no surprise that our team gets lots of questions on a regular basis about contextual email marketing – especially considering that Movable Ink invented the ability to change email content at the moment of open in 2010. Our Senior Solutions Consultant, Mike Dietz, recently answered some of our biggest questions in our webinar, Contextual Email Marketing AMA.

But in case you missed it, here are our top 10 frequently asked questions about contextual email marketing.

What is contextual email marketing?

By definition, contextual email marketing is email marketing content that is personalized and relevant to each of your customers based on their location, local weather, past purchases, time, devices and more at the moment of open.

There are a lot of different ways that marketers use contextual marketing, whether it’s using live polls with results that update in real-time, advanced personalization techniques display customer data in a unique and engaging way or automating email content by automatically pulling in products or content from a company’s website.

Below are a few real-life examples of contextual emails with exceptional results from Boden, Lenscrafters and the Detroit Pistons.

Can you use contextual email marketing technology with any ESP?

Yes, in fact Movable Ink’s technology is completely ESP agnostic, meaning that we can work with any ESP. The end deliverable that Movable Ink provides is really just a snippet of HTML, which we call an embed code here. You can paste that into your email wherever you’d like that content to be powered, and send it out as you normally would through your email service provider. Movable Ink will power that block of content within your email.

Does the technology effect subject lines?

This is a question that we regularly get and the answer is no, we cannot affect a subject line after the email is already deployed. The same goes for anything that’s been hard-coded as live text as well. One important thing to note here is that everything that Movable Ink is powering is done within the image containers in your email.

What’s the process like for setting up contextual technologies when there is an agency involved?

We work with all shapes and sizes of teams, whether it’s the end client, through their agency, through the ESP and even other third parties. Movable Ink’s Intelligent Content Platform is really built for the customer, so that any marketer can log in and create snippets of code within our interface.

We do have support here within the company known as our Client Experience team. They can help you get up and running with the technology and in some cases act as extensions of the marketing team and execute on many different use cases for our clients.

What kinds of brands are using contextual marketing and what verticals are they in?

We work across all verticals here at Movable Ink. We have a very strong presence in the retail apparel/non-apparel, travel and hospitality, financial services and various different media and publishers. Top brands are using us – brands I’m sure you’ve heard of – Luxotica, Gap, NASCAR, the NBA and many others.

What kinds of contextual content can you add to emails?

We have a core app gallery which includes everything from countdown timers to what I think is the crux our business is our ability to web crop. For anyone unfamiliar with our business, that’s basically allowing – Movable Ink will fetch data from any web source, whether it’s a publicly facing website or directly through your APIs.

Our ability to do that lets us create these unique, 1:1 experiences at that individual level by pulling in data from your sites or CRM database to create these really really rich experiences.

As far as trends go, a lot of companies have deployed year-in-review emails. Companies like Spotify, Dunkin Donuts and Delta have all recently launched innovative campaigns around the customer journey that the customer had in the last year.

Many people don’t respond to a hard-sell in an email. What are some strategies for using contextual marketing for a softer sell? It’ll very depending on who you are as a brand, and the relationship you’re trying to convey. There are a lot fun tactics.

Creating a live poll is one way. If you’re a travel marketer, you can say, ‘We’re interested in hearing about your ideal vacation spot and present them with three different locations.’

One of the benefits about using our live polls is that not only does it create a fun and engaging campaign, we’re also tracking that engagement which you can use in turn to target your customers with that exact same location in a future email.

Using our image personalization tool is another fun way that you can drive engagement. We can incorporate some of the data that you have on your users and display it in a really creative way.

Going back to one of our core examples with Starbucks, they send an email to their rewards program members with an image of a cup. They passed us their magic marker font so we can have the customer’s name displayed on the cup in that magic marker style font. Everyone who opens the email sees their name displayed on the cup.

How do you control live social feeds?

We can filter out curse words. You can pull in posts related to a specific hashtag. I’ve seen folks that are concerned about posts – you can actually only show retweets if you want, so that your company has control over what gets displayed in the email.

We also have integrations with other third party companies like Curalate and Olapic. If you work with them, we’re piped in directly from their API so you can control what gets displayed in the email at the time of open. We of course can filter out, as I mentioned for curse words.

What are some best practices for using subscriber data in your emails that doesn’t creep out your subscribers?

I think that’s a fine line that you have to walk. Nothing that’s going to be overly invasive. I think for the most part, people like to hear about themselves. So the most you show them that you care, the better. It’ll result in higher click-throughs and ROI.

Which segments of a business are influenced by contextual marketing?

If we’re talking about who we’re working with, we typically work with the email teams and the folks who work at the agencies themselves. If we’re talking about the types of emails that we’re in, we’re spanning a lot of with our technology especially with the B2C level, but we do work a lot of B2B subscribers and B2B emails.

What’s your favorite campaign that you’ve seen so far?

There are a few that come to mind – the one I talked about earlier with the Detroit Pistons. That was a huge one when that first came out. It gained us a lot notoriety with the sports vertical, plus we got to go on a ton of calls with sports teams and organizations.

A major US airline utilized our web crop technology paired up with APIs to add real-time flight seating maps to their emails. They send that out 2-3 days before your flight and it let you know if you are eligible for an upgrade. Nobody wants a bad seat on a flight. That’s one of the cool things that caught my eye when I first started here.

I really liked the year-in-review Spotify email that went out earlier this year. I thought that was really clever. It had multiple variations and business rules – the email showed if you listened to a specific artist a certain number of times, total minutes you listened throughout the year, what your top tracks were. I thought that was very, very clever. Those are three favorites.