What is the best way to effectively test open-time personalization functions in your email marketing program? Refine your strategy and increase engagement by using these five tips.

Over the past few years, the inbox has become more dynamic than ever.

As of 2014, one in five marketers was already using open-time personalization, and 61 percent expressed interest or intent to use open-time personalization to innovate their email program, according to the data below from Forrester Research.


Because open-time personalization enables content customization at the time of open, there are a slew of new experiences that can deliver value to customers and increase business results.

Before adding live content elements to your email programs, it's important to establish a long-term testing plan. As email transforms into a dynamic content hub, the real-time in-message experience has become richer. Therefore, clicks may no longer be the best metric to measure success. Your plan should account for engagement metrics over time and evaluate true conversions - not just clicks. 

Consider these key questions to begin planning for open-time personalization:

  • What is the main objective of the messaging (selling, loyalty, or social proof)? 
  • What types of open-time personalization will deliver true consumer value at the right place and time? 
  • What type of testing will provide insight to guide the next phase of open-time personalization usage? 
  • What tests are top priorities based on highest potential?
  • How will success be measured?

Now that you know how to frame your thinking about open-time personalization, it's time to get started and test how it can boost engagement. The five methods below can be easily added to a number of popular email programs.

1. Countdown clock


Simple and to the point, countdown clocks are gaining wide adoption in email programs. Countdown clocks bring life and value (Read more...) the inbox, because they motivate consumers by emphasizing fixed amounts of time to take action. The use cases are any time sensitive situations, including:

  • Product launches 
  • Sale beginning or end time 
  • Pre-orders 
  • Upcoming events 
  • Price expiration 
  • Holiday delivery timing windows

2. Social feed

Integrating a social feed into email can bring a new conversational element to the inbox. This can be a powerful element to drive social proof and community. In a welcome series, social feeds can inspire subscribers to engage in the social realm and also deliver social credibility as the consumer relationship builds.
By testing the impact of social feed integration in email, marketers can begin to understand cross-channel preferences and gain even greater value from user-generated social content.

3. Mobile deep-linking

According to Litmus, at least 50 percent of emails are being opened on mobile. Leveraging device specific deep-linking opportunities is an excellent strategy for optimizing email marketing campaigns. Delivering deep-linking experiences save consumers time and provides contextual value. 

Automatically detect if a recipient has your app installed. Then you can update relevant links in the email to open related content within the app. If the consumer doesn't have your app installed, detect the type of device they may have and offer up the appropriate link to download it.

4. Video in email

Video content is powerful and compelling via email, delivering more value to the inbox at the time of open. It can also increase overall click, engagement, and open rates, simply by including the word "video" in the subject line.

Testing the impact of video versus static content is relatively simple to do. And it has the potential to increase engagement. With so many email clients that now support streaming video, there's never been a better time to test it.

5. Live________?

There are an abundance of ways to customize content in real-time. Fill in the blank with a hypothesis about content elements that can deliver a more compelling consumer experience. Some examples of possible live content options include:

  • Weather feeds 
  • Map to location 
  • Sports scores or financial quote feeds 
  • Inventory availability 
  • Dynamic offers based on other channel activity

The open-time personalization opportunities are endless, and can help you exceed consumer expectations for valuable content in the inbox. By ensuring that your messages are always timely and current, you can establish a reputation for consistently delivering value – which will eventually lead your customers to seek out your messages in their inbox.

What open-time personalization elements has your team already tested? And what plans are on the horizon for 2016? Let us know in the comments!

Article images via Flickr. 

This entry passed through the Full-Text RSS service - if this is your content and you're reading it on someone else's site, please read the FAQ at fivefilters.org/content-only/faq.php#publishers.