email

CDPs Can Make Email WAY More Effective

But do brands have the courage to send less email?

Everyone talks about email personalization. And Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) can finally make this a reality. But are brands willing to listen? Do brands have the courage to send fewer emails? What if CDPs could improve email experiences and produce more revenue? 

by Brian Gruidl

A paradox exists in Email Marketing: customers hate email, except when they love email. The difference isn’t the email; the difference is the customer. 

Email marketing paradox

If a customer loves a particular brand, they actively pick those emails out of a crowded inbox. They open, read and click because they see value, they see savings, they feel a connection. And they buy! The best Email Marketers embrace customer segmentation. And that’s where CDPs take it to the next level.

CDPs empower email marketing with:

  • Real-time segmentation: An awareness of prior responses, profile information, interests, browses, clicks, purchases, posts – put into microsegments to personalized Email experiences.
  • Real-time messaging: Messaging that varies the images, offers and messaging; even reacts to behaviors on the website, including site searches, product browsing and abandoned carts.
  • Cross-device and cross-channel: Personalized experiences delivered to a phone while a customer shops at retail, or even offline blurring the lines between digital and physical.

So if you want to improve email using a CDP, this blog will tell you what you need to do to prepare your email program to harness its power. Because, in the world of marketing, staying ahead isn’t just a competitive advantage; it’s a necessity.

Map out your program for CDPs

Leveraging your CDP to deliver hyper-personalized email campaigns requires some prep work to be done. Here’s what your CDP vendor needs to know:

  • Email calendar:
    • Share your calendar, detailing the types of emails you send. This helps the CDP understand the rhythm and flow of your communications.
  • Email sign-up points:
    • From your website’s sign-up form to social media calls-to-action, and even interactions with customer service, map out every touchpoint where customers can sign up for email.
    • What information do you ask for? Do you use what you collect?
    • What kind of error checking do you do to validate new email addresses?
  • Automation and journeys:
    • Whether it’s the welcome series for new sign-ups or the nudge for abandoned carts, detail your automated email flows. 
  • Segmentation logic:
    • Your current segmentation might look at past purchases and email responsiveness. The key is to understand you are segmenting customers, not email addresses. Have you consolidated multiple email addresses per customer? Can you segment over time (seasonal buyers)? Segmentation logic is crucial for the CDP to replicate and enhance with predictions (e.g., tenure, attrition, propensity to buy a type of product).
  • Suppressions:
    • From opt outs, to email bounces, to fraud – there are critical suppressions that should be filtered out of the mailstream to protect your brand’s sender reputation and deliverability.
  • Mobile email, SMS and push comes first:
    • Text and mobile is in scope, so share your SMS campaign logic and calendars. If you’re reaching out via mobile in-app messages, that’s vital input for a CDP too.

The more your CDP vendor knows, the better they can tailor the platform to your needs. Have you completed a needs analysis? Have you quantified what you are looking for? As you embark on a CDP implementation, remember: transparency and detail are your best allies.

How personalized can email become? 

Personalization is the key to standing out in a crowded inbox. In fact, personalized Emails have been shown to produce a 139% increase in click rate. But personalization isn’t just about using the recipient’s first name. It’s dependent on the assets you have at your disposal. Do you leverage: 

  • Degree of personalization:
    • Ranging from basic (like using the recipient’s name) to advanced (like tailoring the content based on their recent browsing history or purchase behavior)
      • Imagery: Are you using stock photos or images to resonate with the recipient?
      • Message mapping: Ensuring the right message reaches the right person.
      • Cadence: Can the CDP find that sweet spot where engagement meets anticipation?
      • Interactivity: Does your email allow for dynamic content rendering?
  • Email templates and digital assets:
    • Are they mobile-responsive? Are they consistent with brand guidelines? Are they optimized for quick loading?

As you embark on your journey towards hyper-personalized Email campaigns, take a moment to audit, optimize, and inventory your assets. These assets can transform a good campaign into a great one.

Email programs produce tons of data CDPs can use

At the core of your Email Marketing program is the data you’re collecting with your Email program. And not just any data, but the right kind, used in the right way:

  • Email response history and disposition (bounces)
  • Content customers engage with
  • Clues on optimal timing, subjects lines, messages, images
  • Multiple Email addresses per individual and householding or site rollups (including responsiveness of that household to email and direct mail)
  • History of onboarding Email addresses to ad platforms (match rates, type of match)

While the tools, tactics, and templates are all vital, it’s the data that drives decisions. As business leaders and marketers, as you gear up to deploy a CDP, remember data is input to strategic priorities and action plans.

Email quality makes a difference 

When embarking on a CDP implementation, it’s important to map out email quality:

  • Email HTML quality checks
  • Device and browser rendering of the email 
  • Accessibility checks, alt-tags
  • Pre-headers and image previews
  • Deliverability, list hygiene and sender score checks
  • Error checks (misspellings, repairs, bounces)
  • Quality alerts in place

Quality checking is your moment to reduce undeliverable email, correct typos and ensure email data is ready for the CDP.

Optimizing email communication preferences

In the digital realm, especially with emails and SMS, empowering customers to determine how and when they’d like to hear from you makes for happier, more engaged customers: 

  • Email/SMS communication preferences
  • Type of communication your customer desires
  • A chance to opt down, not opt out
  • Compliance and privacy rules
  • Other types of consent

Preferences aren’t just checkboxes on a form; they’re a testament to the relationship you build with your customers. It’s about listening, respecting, and acting in a way that strengthens that bond.

A CDP can transform your program beyond opens and clicks 

Opens and clicks are just the tip of the iceberg. They’re important, but not the whole story. If you’re only focusing on email performance metrics, you’re missing out on deeper, more meaningful connections with the customer.

email marketing process
  • Marketing to customers, not email addresses:
    • The real purpose of a CDP is to understand the person, to go beyond the Email address. It’s about recognizing that you’re not just marketing to an inbox; you’re engaging with a customer who will look for your Email and advocate for your brand.
  • Personalization at scale:
  • Test, Learn and Scale:
    • The best brands build a culture of continuous learning. It’s this cycle of creation, testing, and knowledge that keeps your Email program fresh, relevant and engaging.

Partner with a CDP agency that understands email 

A specialized CDP agency can improve your Email Marketing when combined with a CDP. Here’s why partnering can be a game-changer:

  • Goal setting and strategy development:
    • A CDP agency can help you set goals and then craft a strategy tailored to meet those goals.
  • CDP design:
    • A CDP agency can ensure the CDP is designed/developed properly upfront – to align with your strategies and what you intend to do with it.
  • Maximizing CDP capabilities:
    • A CDP agency can help you leverage the advanced features, ensuring you’re getting the maximum bang for your buck.
  • Continuous learning and adaptation:
    • Partnering with a CDP agency ensures that your strategies are always in sync with the latest trends and best practices.

Download our readiness scorecard to see how else you can best prepare for your CDP implementation. 

Brian Gruidl

Brian Gruidl is the Vice President of Email Marketing at Hansa Marketing Services, a CDP Marketing agency, where he leads Hansa’s team on behalf of clients to ensure they get the most out of CDPs, Email, Push and SMS programs. Brian has spent the last 20 years running email for brands including Target and United Healthcare, building data powered marketing programs designed to increase revenue and engagement through personalized communications. Brian has a passion for written communications, ensuring that conversations are focused and provide value to the end user.

Photo by Soheb Zaidi on Unsplash

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