[This blog was first posted on 6th October 2020. It has been updated on 16th February 2022.]
Almost every year there seem to be hot new trends in email marketing. Whether it’s automation or send time optimization, dynamic content or predictive intelligence, these key trends can be easily leveraged with Salesforce Marketing Cloud (SFMC). But one trend that a lot of email marketing specialists are not taking advantage of is real time marketing. And this is a pity, because real time marketing can be a very powerful means of delivering impressive, highly personalized, 1-to-1 email messages at scale to drive better engagement and boost conversions.
If you’re not familiar with real time marketing, take a look at our short introduction section first. But if you’re looking for practical ideas to implement real time marketing with SFMC email marketing, feel free to dive straight into the next section.
What is real time marketing with email
Real time marketing with email takes email customization and dynamic content to a new level. It involves deploying automated email campaigns that change in real time, in response to the consumer’s immediate environment. In simple terms, real time email marketing is about personalizing every single email message based on each opener’s personal context the moment it is opened.
By factoring in user-specific triggers like demographics, purchase history, prior email or web behaviors, external factors influencing their environment such as geography-specific events or the weather, real time email marketing empowers marketers to deploy hyper-targeted and relevant emails. This keeps messages up-to-date no matter when, where or how they’re opened. Content is instantaneously adjusted to dynamically personalize every email for every recipient, ensuring that they get only what they actually want or need.
Pondering through a host of real time marketing examples would tell you that some of the most common use cases and advantages include:
- Build a sense of urgency and encourage recipients to take a specific action
- Drive more conversions, upsells and cross-sells
- Create loyal email followers with loyalty programs and special discounts
- Keep recipients informed with tracking notifications
5 Effective Ways to Drive Real Time Email Marketing with Salesforce Marketing Cloud
Real time marketing campaigns are a great way to delight customers and increase open and click-through rates. However, implementing it can be a bit of a challenge with other ESPs. SFMC however makes it easy for email marketers to interact with their subscribers with real time emails, and thus provide the nuanced and sophisticated experiences they’re looking for.
With SFMC email marketing, marketers have access to a range of content tools (not to mention user-friendly HTML email templates!) to personalize emails based on different metrics. These include real-time countdown timers to drive actions, personalized images to improve engagement, and dynamic web crops to seamlessly integrate latest offers or blog posts into emails.
Here are 5 effective ways to make the most of SFMC for your brand’s real time marketing goals.
I. Create dynamic content (Tip: Start with Salesforce email templates!)
A key ingredient of real time email marketing involves the creation of dynamic content, i.e. content that’s instantaneously adjusted to dynamically personalize every email for every recipient. With dozens of Salesforce email templates in SFMC Email Studio Content Builder, you can respond quickly to the needs of your subscribers with personalized emails that promote meaningful engagements.
To know more about HTML email templates in SFMC, read our article An Easy Guide to Building Reusable Email Templates in Salesforce Marketing Cloud here
Some other powerful ways to create dynamic content in SFMC:
i. Dynamic banners and webcrops
Real-time banners keep subscribers engaged for longer by showing them the offers most likely to spark their interest. In fact, one of the best ways to move them towards a sale is to tailor banners to their preferred categories or brands. A good way to ensure that you include only current banners as open time email content is to use ‘webcrop’ technology. The webcrop can be personalized to pull content that an individual has already been exposed to, e.g. their wish list.
If you don’t want to create banners from scratch, take a look at the Salesforce email templates in SFMC first.
ii. Product recommendations and coupons
Showing the same product recommendations to everyone is risky because when suggestions don’t meet their needs, shoppers will get frustrated and leave. With SFMC, you can display products that precisely match each subscriber’s preferences and behaviors. Basing them on open-time inventory and pricing data will ensure that they see only current offers and coupons, not expired or unavailable offers.
By tailoring product recommendations to each stage of the customer journey, brands can:
- Boost product discovery and average order value (AOV)
- Recommend products to up-sell, cross-sell and deep-sell
- Promote excess stock to those subscribers who are most likely to convert
- Promote high-margin items to improve profits
A good way to provide product recommendations is to include one of these phrases in the email:
- People like you buy
- Frequently browsed
- Related products
- New arrivals
- Try for free
iii. Provide live prices and availability information
By updating pricing and availability information automatically at the time of every open or view, you can ensure that you never promote out-of-date content or unavailable products. This works for new emails as well as for abandoned cart emails.
II. Use behavioral triggers
In SFMC, a behavioral trigger refers to a particular action taken by an individual subscriber. Using trigger data to implement real time marketing and send customized ‘triggered emails’ is both easy and effective. With SFMC, you can create granular segments based on customer behavior and lifecycle stage in order to deliver a ‘person-to-person’ experience at scale.
All triggered emails in SFMC are trackable (opens, clicks, etc), targeted and sent in real time. They provide these benefits:
- Provide a great customer experience with price drop and back in stock alerts
- Use auto-forward and auto-reply with messages processed by Reply Mail Management
- Achieve high deliverability and scalability
- Maximize marketing impact with personalized messages based on the type of shopper, carted value
- Use AI to build rich customer profiles and do granular segmentation for advanced customer tagging
- Drive higher average order value (AOV) and customer lifetime value (CLV) with post-purchase emails
- Reduce shopping cart abandonment
- Foster greater loyalty with predictive emails that remind them to restock or refill
For best results, make sure that your triggered emails include at least some of the following elements:
- Contextual dynamic images
- Product recommendations for cross-sells and upsells
- Countdown timer
- Popularity message
- Ratings or reviews
III. Use Live Weather Content Block
Live Weather Content Block in SFMC Content Builder allows for personalized images based on local weather conditions to appear when a subscriber opens an email. By leveraging local weather conditions, you can curate content that’s relevant for your subscribers while driving traffic to your store or website.
E.g. Using Live Weather Content Block, a hotel brand can create emails with tempting images of sandy beaches and sunshine. For subscribers living in colder areas, these messages can be really enticing.
IV. Use Countdown Timers
A countdown timer is an animated clock that can be inserted inside an email message. The clock counts down to an important deadline, such as the end of a promotion, time left to renew a subscription, etc., in order to build excitement and create a sense of urgency. The goal is to encourage the subscriber towards taking an action, without seeming too pushy or ‘sales-y’. The messaging within the email can be personalized based on the event, or for the individual subscriber.
V. Include live social media feeds and relevant messaging
Well over 50% of the global population now uses social media. If your brand already has a social media presence and you’re looking to encourage omni-channel engagement, then combining your SFMC email marketing with social media can be a very effective strategy.
Keep customers updated and engaged by displaying the latest content from your social pages in your emails and ecommerce store. Include live streams of high-quality user-generated content (UGC) such as product ratings and reviews from different platforms to make your shoppers feel part of a tribe. Include popularity messages or scarcity messages to encourage purchase and discourage cart abandonment.
This focus on ‘wisdom of the crowd’ and ‘social proof’ can yield a number of benefits for your real time marketing efforts:
- Inspire subscribers with trending items
- Harness FOMO (fear of missing out) and encourage them to buy before they bounce or abandon their cart
- Improve conversions
- Build consumer trust in a purchase decision
Wrapping It Up
Real-time email marketing provides brands with many opportunities to deliver timely, personalized content recipients will love. And since Salesforce Marketing Cloud provides robust functionalities for email marketing automation, triggered campaigns, dynamic content, hyper-personalization and more, email marketers have everything they need to implement real time email marketing quickly. By utilizing these features, they can focus on more personal, relevant, and timely messages to improve email performance and motivate subscribers to take action. We hope the real time marketing examples shared above provide you with enough insight to propel your future campaigns to great heights of success