With more than 3.8 billion users worldwide, email remains an incredibly popular – and effective – channel marketers use to reach their customers. It’s estimated that email spending in the United States reached $350 million in 2019. You’re reading this blog post right now, but chances are, you also have your email open in another window, and have checked it multiple times today. You’re not alone.

According to the Data & Marketing Association, 99% of consumers check their email every day – 20 times on average, across home, work and mobile. All of this amounts to a big opportunity for marketers to present relevant, engaging content that drives clickthroughs and conversions.

At our 6th annual Personalization and CDP Summit this past September, we hosted a panel on how retailers can use personalization to forge deeper connections with their customers through email. Guest speakers hailed from Venus, a leading swimsuit and clothing retailer, and Dillards, a luxury department store chain.

During the panel, each speaker discussed how their organization uses email personalization to creatively present relevant promotions and products to shoppers. They presented several different examples, and here are two we found particularly inspiring:

Think Like Your Customers

It’s reasonable to expect online shoppers want (and may seek) the best price for whatever item they’re in the market for. If they receive a promotion via email or mobile/text, they expect the same promotion will appear on the website. However, this can present some challenges to marketers, who have to track visitors coming from email or text message, and know which promotion they received in order to create a truly seamless experience.

For Venus, after an uptick in customer service chats and emails from shoppers, the company sought to eliminate friction in this process. Previously, a shopper would get a promotion via email or text, and go to the site, seeking the offer. However, it would only appear at checkout (if the person got that far).

To create a more cohesive experience that follows each customer, Venus began using infobars, which target promotional traffic from email or mobile, and display the same offer across all channels – creating a personalized experience from start to finish. The infobar shown below increased average order value (AOV) by 19.6% and conversions rate by 14.1%.


This personalized infobar dramatically increased AOV and conversions among shoppers.

Take Changes One Step at a Time

Making changes to the customer experience can cause stress among marketers. What if visitors don’t engage with new website copy or imagery? What if a new call-to-action (CTA) drives clickthroughs down? With email volume at an all-time high, will customers notice and respond to a new promotion sent by email? When revenue is on the line, these questions can keep marketers up at night.

The team at Dillards overcame worries like these by taking a step back and thinking about how to change the experience in a lower-risk environment. When it comes to A/B testing, there’s no hard-and-fast rule that says you have to split experiences 50/50, exposing a large segment of visitors to a new, untested experience. To mitigate this risk, Dillards ran tests using the minimum number of visitors they needed to extrapolate statistically significant results.

After they began to see lift from these tests, they expanded the audience exposed to new versions of email and website experiences little-by-little, watching the results to make sure they remained in line with expectations. If they started to see negative results, they would tweak the experience and continue testing. Nothing is ever set in stone, and by running tests on small segments, Dillards was able to create highly effective personalized experiences.

Final Thoughts

Creating great customer experiences is all about treating customers like the individuals they are – whether they’re reading your emails, using your mobile app, engaging in live chat, speaking with your call center, etc. This means adapting the experience, in the moment, based on a shopper’s preferences and behaviors, while delivering a relevant and cohesive experience across channels. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. What do they expect from a retailer? What experience makes sense for them at any given moment? Making careful, deliberate choices with the customer’s best interest in mind will yield significant benefits for the retailer and customer.