Personalization and customer experience are intertwined in the world of loyalty, yet many brands still face challenges in achieving this goal that, ultimately, leads to increased engagement.

In its latest Q4 benchmark report, “The Mobile Engagement Shift,” Yes Lifecycle Marketing noted this deficiency among many brands today.

“Many brands have yet to develop a personalized, relevant experience that delivers on the promise of their email subject lines,” the report says. “In fact, according to a recent Yes Lifecycle Marketing survey, almost half of 300-plus brands surveyed did not use purchase history or recipients’ first names to personalize communications and 50 percent failed to utilize consumers’ web behavior and demographic data to enhance messaging. In this sense, it might not be surprising that the increase in opens did not translate to an increase in clicks; consumers expected a relevant, personalized experience from brand communications and many marketers did not deliver on those expectations in Q4.”

For loyalty marketers that want to grow their databases and leverage long-term revenue opportunities, the report notes, brands should use interstitial forms and pop-windows on their websites.

“This strategy is particularly effective when combined with a generous incentive that encourages site visitors to subscribe,” the report says. “To ensure the success of their cross-channel acquisition strategies, brands should supplement their web forms with a fun and informative email welcome series that introduces new subscribers to the brand, sets expectations about the brand and its mailing program, and, if applicable, invites them to join the brand’s loyalty program.”

There has been a notable shift in mobile customer engagement, according to the report: In 2013, desktop CTO (click-to-open) was double that of mobile (21.6 percent vs 10.3 percent); in Q4 2016, that ratio had drastically changed with desktop CTO falling to 11.9 percent and mobile CTO reaching 11.1 percent.

“As mobile gained more ground and consumers continued to adopt mobile devices to support their daily needs and activities, mobile email engagement consistently trended upward and desktops were no longer the device of choice for browsing and purchasing,” the report says.

But, the report notes, for mobile email, in particular, the context has to be an absolute imperative as more consumers demand a contextual experience to engage with a brand.

“This is an opportunity for marketers to offer their audience a way to interact with marketing messages on their mobile devices in a variety of situations,” the report says. “Personalized, value-added, ‘sticky’ content would provide a bridge to consumers until they are ready to shop.”

What’s more, brands with e-commerce capabilities should consider investing in the development of a mobile app that consumers can use to purchase, the report recommends.

Last year was a turning point and the fourth quarter was particularly helpful in illustrating new shifts of consumer behavior and their implication on how brands market to their audience, the report says.

“One of the biggest takeaways for brands that aim to engage consumers long-term is to continue optimizing their marketing efforts for mobile with an added emphasis on cross-channel and consistency of the customer experience,” the report says. “Having a solid cross-channel marketing strategy that starts with a single channel, like web, but flows into an email welcome series, a loyalty program sign-up, an app download, an Instagram follow, a preference center profile, etc. is imperative for providing a seamless customer experience. It’s also key in ensuring additional customer touches that can help prevent subscriber attrition and encourage conversion.”

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