How AI is Elevating Emails to Automatically Understand Affinity

How AI is Elevating Emails to Automatically Understand Affinity

Learn how Dynamic Yield's AI-powered affinity-based targeting solution can improve email engagement and generate higher ROI and incremental revenue.

Email remains the #1 most effective channel to engage customers, but personalization strategies are often still basic, leading to repeated missed opportunities for conversion.

Today, email personalization reinforced by affinity-based targeting is an essential approach for any marketer looking to increase engagement and revenue upon click-through. Understanding marketers need a way to create significantly more meaningful customer interactions from their email campaigns, Dynamic Yield sought to roll out one of its most powerful solutions, AI-powered affinity targeting for email.

Real-time, behavioral-based personalization bolstered by powerful AI is the future of email marketing. Marketers can keep a pulse on their customer’s evolving preferences, allowing them to elevate their email personalization to understand customer affinity and segment automatically, resulting in heightened relevance in their messages and offers to customers.

The limits of email personalization today

The majority of email sends today rely on manual CRM-based audience segmentation, for example, segmentation by geography, education level, or age. While this is a great starting point, the scope of personalization it yields is not enough to exceed lofty marketing goals.

Emails limited to segmentation with stagnant CRM data like identity data, descriptive data, and quantitative data typically can’t adapt to customer affinities with agility, resulting in lower-than-desired engagement levels. Segmenting manually can cause marketers to fall behind on their customers’ current affinities, leading to emails that aren’t timely or contextually relevant.

What is customer affinity and why is it effective?

Bringing on the missing component, AI, can help marketers tailor the content, offers, and products being shown to customers based on real-time affinities identified from cross-device and cross-channel behaviors. An affinity profile is created based on the actions that a user takes across your digital properties, and these actions translate into an affinity score.

An affinity score takes several things into account: product attribute values, engagement types, engagement frequency, and the recency of these engagements. Engagement types can include actions like product view, add-to-cart, or purchase, and the product attribute values include characteristics like product color, style, and category.

The affinity score is updated based on the type of interaction and when it occurred, and a weight is assigned to each engagement to measure affinity accurately. Recency is taken into account as user behavior and preferences change over time. Affinity profiles need to be refined with each new action in real time, and newer data is favored over older data.

Looking at customer affinity in the context of email, it’s important to understand what that means for marketers. Customer affinities are personal connections forged between people and a particular topic, brand, product, or even product attributes. For example, a customer could have an affinity to brands like Nike and Adidas, or an affinity to specific shirt colors, fabrics, prices, promotions, and styles.

Affinities give us an easy way of contextualizing what customers are interested in, allowing us to craft and send relevant messages, offers, and products. This type of truly individualized messaging can help create more meaningful connections between customers and the brand, resulting in increased customer loyalty and higher conversion rates.

The importance of open-time relevancy in email personalization

According to McKinsey, organizations have seen a decrease of up to 60% in customer churn as a result of data-driven approaches to the customer experience. The benefits of injecting affinity personalization into your email marketing strategy are immense and make it possible to surpass key KPIs like revenue and click-through rate with dynamic, hyper-personalized emails.

A single email campaign might look completely different to two different recipients with different affinities. Open-time relevancy provides a level of email personalization that goes beyond the capabilities of your ESP. Instead of a single email campaign going to an entire segment, teams get exponentially more value from each send as every message is tailored to every recipient.

Building an AI-powered customer affinity program can drive personalization opportunity identification and, in turn, expedite the buying process by dynamically updating areas like banners, navigation categories, promotions, and product recommendations. It’s vital that customers receive emails that are relevant at that moment, personalized to products they’re actively interested in. AI makes it possible to adapt to changing customer affinities, allowing marketers to provide highly contextualized experiences that are sent to the right place at the right time.

Maximizing Email with Real-Time Customer Affinity

Consider the comparison below of an average email built with basic CRM data and an email constructed with targeted customer affinity. In this example, the customer affinity is sunglasses. The email composed without taking customer affinity into account misses the mark here – it communicates that there’s a sale on accessories but doesn’t specifically target the affinity for sunglasses. In the email that takes advantage of customer affinity, you can see personalized hero banner content, 1:1 personalization in the image used, and personalized product recommendations.

This can manifest differently in businesses across industries like Grocery, Retail/eCommerce, Financial Services, and Quick Service Restaurants, but all can benefit from implementing customer-affinity targeting into the email strategy.

Above are examples of industry-specific personalized emails for Financial Services and Grocery. Both emails are tailored to real-time customer affinity and include relevant fields by industry. The Financial Services example features dynamic content displaying “Special Offers for Cardholders”, while the Grocery example displays “Summer Favorites.” These adjustments allow each business to relay the most relevant offers to customers.

Dynamic Yield’s Affinity-Based Targeting 

Dynamic Yield’s affinity-based targeting solution generates content dynamically and automatically matches the variation to the customer’s affinity profile by allowing marketers to tag each variation with relevant attributes. Calculated in real-time, the best variation will always be served to the customers, even after the email is sent.

The AI that powers Dynamic Yield’s affinity-based targeting was built with the understanding that customer affinity is always evolving, ensuring that content will always be relevant upon opening. With Dynamic Yield’s affinity-based targeting, marketers no longer need to manually create audiences to segment and target, saving time and making email personalization at scale a tangible possibility.

Materializing Hyper-Personalization

Looking forward, real-time email personalization enriched by AI is becoming more essential every day. As revenue goals and customer expectations climb higher, marketers can no longer rely on the manual segmentation commonly used today. With Dynamic Yield, hyper-personalization can become a reality through AI-powered affinity-based targeting. Transforming email personalization into a dynamic, ongoing process allows marketers to scale their efforts across all audiences and achieve higher email engagement, incremental revenue, and ROI.

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