Written by: Ryan Lyk, Alex Boedigheimer, Aaron Summers, and Maggie Salkin
April 12, 2018
Last week, a few members of our team traveled to the Iterable Activate conference in San Francisco to gain more insight on innovation in digital in 2018.
We have had the opportunity to work closely with their team over the past three years, so our team was excited to show our support at their first annual conference.
At the conference, Iterable announced the rollout of their new suite of AI tools and a cutting edge reporting platform. We heard from over a dozen marketers on how they use Iterable to grow their brands and increase ROI, and we met with other leaders and forward-thinkers in our industry.
There was a lot to unpack from such a successful conference. So, we wanted to share our insights with you. Here are some of our key takeaways:
Ryan Lyk, Vice President of Client Services
Iterable’s first conference saw the rollout of an entire suite of AI tools. These include: Send time optimization, frequency optimization, and channel optimization.
Send Time Optimization – Using individual engagement data, Iterable will determine when a user is most likely to respond. That is a key offering because it allows us to focus less on when we are sending the email campaign (always a spirited debate with involved lots of charts) and more on what the campaign contains.
Frequency Optimization – Iterable will allow us to cap how many times a user is receiving communication in a window of time. We take churn very seriously, especially when dealing with political campaigns where each subscriber lost is a potential donor lost. Currently we use a system of workflows and internal processes to make sure we keep frequency at bay, but with this new tool Iterable is making our lives easier and improving the services we can provide our clients.
Channel Optimization – The most powerful feature of Iterable is that you can manage all your communication channels in one place. Now, they are making this even easier by automatically determining the best way to engage your subscriber. If they prefer email, they get email. If they respond better to SMS, they get SMS.
These innovations are a huge step forward for both Iterable and us, as we seek to provide our clients with best-in-class solutions to reaching their marketing goals.
#2: Omni-Channel Communication
Alex Boedigheimer, Director of Marketing
Marketers have generally become proficient in basic email communication, but as new channels of communication develop, the market inevitably calls for the development of innovative cross-channel communication strategies to effectively reach the user via their preferred channel.
A content campaign cannot simply be viewed on a per-channel basis. We must ensure that we are not siloing channels into individual tracks, but instead devising a marketing strategy that effectively communicates across many channels. Merging what we know regarding personalization and segmentation with channel optimization is the next major challenge for marketers across all industries. Rather than having individual email, SMS, push, or social media content tracks, we should allow the user to engage with our content through the path they choose.
Content should be viewed as a campaign that we roll out across multiple channels and then optimize based on user inputs. The marketer’s ultimate goal is to drive a user to complete an action regardless of the channel. Our focus should be on learning the preferred communication channel of the user based on multiple interactions from different channels. We shouldn’t think of individual channel engagements as solo user segments, but rather as how to reach a user on multiple channels while maintaining content relevancy based on channel.
For example, if we run a petition across multiple channels and the user who opens the email doesn’t sign via email but rather engages separately via text, we should optimize future messaging based on that user’s preference. However, this does not mean that we should send the same content across every channel. Instead, we should run follow-up campaigns across channels to better engage those who did not complete the desired action from our largest deployment.
Generally speaking, there is no set way to market users across all channels. We need to learn how to capitalize on different channels to reach our target audience and get them to complete a desired action. As marketers, we need to learn from the user on how we best connect with them. Each user may take a different path to complete the desired action, but as long as we are sending relevant content through the user’s preferred communication channel, our relationship with each user will vastly improve.
#3: Using Human Behavior Hacks to Increase Content Engagement and Response
Aaron Summers, Senior Content Strategist
It’s harder than ever to reach your audience and place content in inboxes that will be seen, let alone engaged with. Our attention spans are waning – humans average 8 seconds, while goldfish are a bit more focused, clocking in at 9 seconds. 95% of our decision-making takes place in the unconscious mind, and marketers should learn the mental shortcuts we make in order to craft content that makes an impression on us immediately.
One of the best ways to do this is using urgency. If we know an offer will be unavailable soon, we’re more likely to stop and take an action. When an opportunity is scarce, we place greater value on it, and this is a powerful motivator marketers can use around something like a political fundraising deadline to grab attention. Marketers can also motivate audiences using social proof. If we are unsure of what action to take, we often look to others to help guide us, especially those who are similar to us. Letting your audience know the average donation to your campaign, how many people in their area have donated, or even a first-person testimonial from a surrogate who they relate to, can help drive increases in engagement and action.
We’re wired for commitment and consistency. Once we take a stand on an issue, we’re less willing to change course. If we say yes once, we’re more likely to say yes again. Marketers can take advantage of this by making a small ask initially. If we say yes to a small donation, we’re more likely to make a bigger donation later when the ask increases. Marketers can also ask for a commitment up front, but with no hard action required in the moment. If you’ve agreed to do something (like donating) in advance, when the time comes, you will be less willing to break your commitment.
While the tools and technology marketers use is constantly changing, human behavior is not, and those crafting content would be wise to always consider the individual psychology of the audiences they’re targeting.
#4: The Impact of Data-Driven Emails
Maggie Salkin, Marketing Strategist
The average person receives more marketing emails in a day than they can read. Today’s email marketer is faced with the challenge of finding a way to cut through that clutter and engage the subscriber. One of the best ways to do this is to make the subscriber believe the email was written specifically for them, providing them with data-driven content that makes them feel that their actions are of value.
Dynamic content allows marketers to create comprehensive, data-focused emails for a large subscriber base. In the case of companies like Uber and Spotify, this dynamic data is more identifiable and easily digested. Many large B2C companies create wrap-reports, displaying dynamic content in the form of how many rides the user took or who their most played artist was.
However, data-driven email content is not specific to large companies that rely on user interaction. In the political and advocacy worlds, this idea can be utilized to increase the number of donations or calls to Congress a user completes.
Using dynamic content to pull through subscriber statistics on donation frequency or donation totals per a geographic region, can help create a sense of urgency and in turn increase donation totals. For advocacy-based campaigns, this could feature petitions a subscriber has signed or letters they have written to their representative, and suggest additional campaigns for them to act upon.
Our audiences are often overwhelmed by the frequency of cookie-cutter, blast send emails. Using data-driven content is one way for us to create a message that resonates with our subscribers. If you are interested in adding Iterable to your digital toolbelt, contact us and we can help get you set up!
IMGE is a full-service digital agency at the intersection of politics and issue advocacy. Since 2013, IMGE has been designing and executing campaigns that reach audiences in effective ways, using a holistic approach to digital strategy. IMGE combines aggressive goal-setting, platform-specific tactics and creative, targeted advertising, and ongoing optimization to meet clients’ digital needs. Follow IMGE on social media to stay up-to-date on the latest information.