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Take your email marketing beyond opens and clicks with a CDP

May 8, 2024 10:49:41 AM

blog-hero-v2Email has always been the ROI darling of Marketing Communications. But brands find it hard to resist the urge to email often and watch the cash register ring. It’s an easy trap to fall into; and that's why brands need a CDP to go beyond "opens and clicks."

By myopically optimizing for clicks, brands lose sight of – providing value for the person on the other end of the message, the customer. With Customer Data Platforms (CDPs), marketers can build deeper, more meaningful connections with their customers.

As Marketing leaders, we need to reimagine how we use email. Stop thinking about email as a campaign tool, planning campaigns as discrete events, and start thinking of email a dialog with customers, and a way to build relationships. A CDP can transform email marketing into a strategy that fosters brand experiences across channels, to drive genuine engagement and ultimately — loyalty to the brand.


CDPs make marketing about customers, not just clicks

Traditional metrics like opens and clicks scratch the surface of customer engagement and the effectiveness of email. No question, these metrics are appealing, due to their simplicity and correlation with customer interest; however, they paint an incomplete picture of customer behavior and engagement.

Don’t think about email as campaigns. Think about email as a key component of a relationship you are creating with the customer — across channels and across time. Customer responses to email can show up on a website the same day, or in a physical store that afternoon; and the same email drove the engagement. To exaggerate the point, if an email recipient adds an item to an online cart, then buys it in the store; they typically fall into a retargeting campaign with messages like “you forgot something” which makes the experience disjointed and siloed.

So you can see, optimizing for clicks can annoy or alienate customers and cause over-emailing. This may boost short-term metrics at the cost of long-term loyalty, brand engagement and Customer Lifetime Value (CLTV). Customer Data Platforms offer a way to develop deeper, contextual insights needed to deliver personalized experiences that lead to more effective and meaningful customer interactions. Using Artificial Intelligence (AI), CDPs can predict the optimal number of email touches in a period of time (Cadence), including time of day (Send Time Optimization). Further, they can mix in SMS and digital advertising and optimize across channels, all driving to the conversion, which may end up in any channel.

By adopting a strategy tied to customer engagement, your best customers, who seek out your emails in a crowded inbox, may not notice a difference. But marginal customers would see fewer emails albeit curated to the best and most relevant offers. Two benefits occur: (1) improvement to the sender reputation and (2) no loss of revenue. In fact, revenue might increase across channels at the customer level. Brands should test this and optimize email over time to various customer engagement segments.

How are you measuring customer success beyond email opens and clicks? 

Schedule with Brian

Chat with our expert, Brian Gruidl, VP of Email Marketing at Hansa. Brian has led email development and improved capabilities for brands large and small, including Target, United Healthcare, and Fingerhut. 


CDPs improve email marketing

A CDP is an integrated customer database that collects, consolidates, and manages customer data from a wide range of sources. It creates a single, comprehensive customer profile (potentially stitching anonymous profiles together in the process). This consolidated “identity” can then be used to execute and automate marketing campaigns to the best email delivering personalized, seamless brand experiences with near real-time response to a customer behavior. These concepts are not new, but CDP functionality take it to the next level:

  • Data Ingestion and Aggregation: CDPs collect data from multiple sources including multiple emails, social media, e-commerce and offline interactions. These data are cleaned, combined, and stored in a unified customer profile.
  • Real-Time Processing: Unlike traditional databases, CDPs are capable of processing data in real-time, allowing marketers to make quick decisions based on the most current data available (reacting to signals across channels).
  • Activation of Insights: Using AI and Machine Learning (ML), CDPs can provide insights into customer behavior patterns, predict future behaviors, and implement the ideal personalization across channels.
  • Privacy Compliance: World class CDPs help organizations manage customer data in compliance with privacy laws and regulations, providing tools to manage consent and preferences effectively.

Integrating a CDP as the foundation of your marketing strategy transforms communications to more targeted, personalized interactions that resonate with each individual customer. This capability not only enhances the effectiveness of marketing campaigns but also builds a foundation for stronger, longer-lasting customer relationships. Measuring campaign opens and clicks is then replaced by measuring customer engagement over time.

Here’s how CDPs are improving email marketing:

  • Personalization at Scale: CDPs can consider past purchases, browsing behaviors, and contextual (demographic) information to personalize an email to each individual. This is more granular than traditional segmentation and more scalable using AI technologies.
  • Real-Time Trigger-Based Emails: By leveraging real-time data, CDPs enable marketers to send trigger-based emails that are activated by specific customer actions or milestones. For example, an email can be sent immediately when a customer abandons a cart, browses a specific product category, completes a store purchase, or reaches a loyalty program milestone, making the communication highly relevant and timely.
  • Awareness and Optimization of a customer’s “journey”: CDPs provide insights into the entire path to purchase (customer journey) across multiple channels, allowing marketers to deliver email communications that align with specific interactions with the brand, online or offline. This ensures a seamless experience, which customers come to expect.
  • Dynamic Content: Utilizing data from CDPs, emails can include dynamic content that changes based on when and where the email is opened. This could be as simple as showing different products depending on stock levels or as complex as adjusting the message based on weather conditions or local events.
  • Enhanced A/B Testing: With comprehensive data at their disposal, marketers can more effectively test different aspects of their email campaigns—from subject lines to imagery and call-to-actions—based on varied customer segments, leading to optimized performance and engagement.
  • Use data for AI predictions: With all of this great customer data, brands can predict everything from relevant next products, services, where someone is on their journey and what relevant content they might need at that exact moment. Brands can curate their experience and become a valuable trusted partner guiding them on their path.

Through these capabilities, CDPs transform emails from a generic marketing tool into a critical element of a broader strategy focused on deepening customer relationships through relevance and context, ensuring that every message sent not only reaches the customer but resonates with them.

Maximizing Cross-channel opportunities with CDPs


How does a CDP enable a seamless integration of email with other marketing channels? The ability of a CDP to integrate email marketing with other channels is crucial in today's multi-touchpoint marketing environment. Here’s how CDPs create a unified marketing approach:

  • Consistent Messaging Across Channels: CDPs maintain a centralized repository of customer data that is accessible by various marketing platforms. This allows for consistent messaging whether the customer is engaging via email, social media, mobile apps, or even in-store. Each interaction can be informed by the same data, ensuring that messaging is consistent and relevant no matter where the customer encounters the brand.
  • Enhanced Customer Journey Mapping: With a CDP, marketers can track and analyze customer behavior across all channels. This insight allows for the development of more comprehensive customer journey maps that account for all points of interaction. As a result, marketers can design campaigns that support and enhance each other, guiding the customer seamlessly from one touchpoint to another.
  • Targeted Advertising Based on Email Interactions: Email interactions can inform and trigger targeted ads on other platforms. For example, if a customer clicks on a particular product in an email but does not purchase, a CDP can trigger retargeting ads for that product on social media or other websites that the customer visits.
  • Synchronized Promotions: When a promotion is launched via email, it can be instantly synchronized across other channels, such as social media or the brand's website, using the data stored in the CDP. This ensures that all promotional materials are up-to-date and consistent, reducing confusion and enhancing the customer experience.
  • Feedback Loop for Continuous Improvement: By integrating insights from various channels, including email, a CDP helps create a feedback loop where data from one channel can inform strategies in others. This continuous flow of information leads to ever-improving campaign strategies and customer interactions.

By leveraging the comprehensive data and integration capabilities of a CDP, marketers can create a truly integrated and customer-centric marketing strategy that not only engages but also delights customers at every interaction.

Email is the key to customer centricity and experiences with the brand. By moving beyond opens and clicks, to integrating of a CDP into your marketing strategy, marketers can engage customers with highly personalized, relevant, and timely communications that resonate on a deeper level.


How are you measuring customer success beyond email opens and clicks?

Schedule with Brian

Chat with our expert, Brian Gruidl, VP of Email Marketing at Hansa. Brian has led email development and improved capabilities for brands large and small, including Target, United Healthcare, and Fingerhut. 

Roy Wollen
Written by Roy Wollen

Roy Wollen is President of Hansa Marketing Services, a CDP Marketing agency. Roy has led some of the top marketers in industries such as Direct to Consumer, travel, financial services, B2B and retail. Roy is a consultant at heart and focuses on solving client problems using marketing technology and analytics. Roy is also Lecturer at Northwestern’s Medill School of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC). Roy teaches Marketing Metrics, B2B Marketing and Digital Analytics. Roy’s academic work focuses on data-driven marketing and marketing measurement. The common theme is proving the value of marketing investments, customer data and measuring business outcomes. Roy earned a Master of Science degree from Medill IMC and is a speaker at industry conferences and events.