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Jared Blank is a featured contributor to Email Marketing Metamorphosis: How to Make Your Customers Love Their Inbox Again.

Here's the complete contribution:

In the retail world we’re seeing brands move toward a Netflix approach to email marketing, where they look at what’s happening at the intersection of consumers' behaviors and the attributes of the products they engage with or buy.

Up until very recently, retailers have been disproportionately focused on the first part of this equation: looking at basic consumer actions (buying something or adding a product to their cart) to determine which products to target them within their next email. They’re only now beginning to understand how product insights also factor in.

Following the Netflix approach means moving away from email campaigns based on logic such as, “this customer likes this shirt, so let’s target her on that similar shirt.” Instead, they'll begin to understand the attributes of the shirt (cotton, short-sleeve, green, made in USA, price, inventory, etc.) and how those overlap with the attributes of other products that consumer has engaged with or purchased.

From that knowledge, they’re able to determine customer preferences and even predict affinities for products and surface relevant products in emails for specific consumers. And a lot of times, retailers will discover that the next product isn’t a shirt at all.

Logically, this would seem the obvious approach to personalizing email content, but it’s complex execution-wise—hence the over-reliance on consumer behaviors. That doesn’t mean retailers should stop trying.

Email personalization and diversification becomes a lot more interesting (and lucrative) when brands start thinking of email content in these terms rather than using it as a blunt instrument for re-selling the customer on an item s/he’s engaged with or worse, an item the retailer simply wants to offload without regard to customer preference.

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