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What is a High-Performing Email Content

Written by Colette on 10, March 2020

Many elements are involved in creating an email that performs well with your subscribers. As a reminder, email is still by far the most cost-effective marketing channel: one dollar spent is worth 40 dollars on average. 

Among the strategies adopted to optimize this channel, personalization often comes first: 51% of marketers say personalization is their top priority (Smarter HQ).

For us, a high-performing content email is defined as an email whose content is created on demand at the time of opening, based on contextual data such as the device, time, stock of remaining products, etc. and data on the recipient's behavior, products already purchased, categories viewed, content consulted, etc.
In other words, an email with effective content is an email with on-demand content that turns boring marketing campaigns into unexpected content.

What is email content personalization?

A personalized email is an email created for a group of people sharing common traits such as an identical household status, the same purchases made in the last 6 months, etc. 

Personalization is to be differentiated from individualization: personalization is above all segmentation. Individualization means going beyond the concept of targeting by creating content based on behavioral and contextual data updated each time an email is opened. 

While personalizing email content means staying within a campaign system with the creation of segments, individualization is about creating content for people, not for campaigns created long in advance.

With personalization, you create email content to stick to segments. This is totally contradictory to the definition of personalization. Even when using the finest segments, email content remains created for them. Not for individuals.

What are recipients really looking for in the content of an email?

  • relevance: if your subscriber doesn't work on Android, you don't need to tell him about it! If your subscriber is a woman, identified as such in your CRM, why continue to offer her products in the Men and Children category? Also, how do you explain that some recipients still receive emails containing products that have already been purchased? This type of email gradually breaks the relationship between brand and subscriber.  
  • surprise: receiving the same offers every day on products that don't interest him breaks the relationship as the days go by. If surprising for the sake of surprising is not an end in itself, delivering content that triggers an emotion is essential. 
  • ability to trigger interaction: we judge the performance of an email if it is able to incite the recipient to click to complete an action elsewhere.

Playing on these three pillars is the best way to engage your recipients. However, this requires:

  • to stop considering that the content of an email is prepared in advance: create content on the fly according to the opening context and behavioral data; 
  • Do not restrict email to a limited tool: your goal is to rely on email to drive engagement and conversion on your site. 
  • to think individual emotion before product placement: use email to propose a selection of products or content, ok but not in any way. Triggering emotion comes from content that speaks to the recipient. Behavioral data is the key to designing the unexpected and the tailor-made.


Do you need to compare your emails with those of your competitors to create high performance email content?

From theory to practice. After what we've just said, you're ready to watch everything your competitors are doing to create those famous contents that will make the difference in your inbox. If it's a humane approach, don't expect results. 

Because you tend to watch your direct competitors. To create high performance email content, assume that everyone is competing with everyone else. Your recipient's attention is therefore solicited by many senders, whether they belong to your industry or not. Your first objective is to not contribute any more to the increase of your recipient's cognitive load. 

To sum up, more and more emails are accumulating in the inboxes but the recipients don't have more time to read them. Each new email has less and less chance to be read! Hence the need for the subscriber to make a choice that will not be favorable to you if you don't change the paradigm of content creation. 

By creating individualized email content, you can be sure that you will be able to attract attention at all times, and even move to the top of the list of senders who want to produce an experience that deserves attention. 

This goal is also becoming a must-have as email piles up in inbox and becomes more and more considered spam.

How to avoid producing email content that ends up in spam

The best way to avoid being considered as a spammer by your recipients is to pay special attention to a KPI that is often little considered or even overlooked by the CRM and Marketing teams: the click to open rate.

Best indicator among all those you can use to measure the performance of your emails, it gives an idea of the impact of your content on its ability to interact and therefore to go further, such as viewing a product page, a particular content or even buying. 

It is also the best way to know if your email content acts as a surprise and creates the unexpected or, on the contrary, acts as a repulsive because it is considered too boring.

How does the creation of email content in real time give you the power to create the unexpected in subscriber's inbox?

Campaign creation has locked in the production of email content. It's been like that since the dawn of time, at least since the campaign system has existed. It's high time to question this automatism. 

How can we do that? By prioritizing real time to create content on the fly for each individual. In other words, each time an email is opened, the content must adapt to what the person has just done: his recent browsing on your site, his purchases, his preferences, etc. In addition to this, contextual data such as basic elements like day time, localization, weather and device but also the remaining stocks, which are automatically updated each time you open an email. 

Based on the update of essential data at the open time of the email, behavioral and contextual data in mind, in real time, the content will finally talk to its recipients and create the unexpected. Used to receiving fixed content that cannot be changed after sending, recipients are finally getting ready to fully experience the emotion provided by content that is updated at each opening and that adapts to the moment. In other words, the content will be created on demand. Content will also be able to live in the future thanks to a continuous optimization of its performance and relevance to subscribers.

How to use context to create powerful email content?

Context is key to creating the trigger that will drive the recipient to the interaction. We can imagine the most basic cases related to the weather in the recipient's city. We think less about key elements to trigger the conversion such as the display of remaining stock. 

Integrating this type of contextual insight doesn't necessarily require, even if it's better, to rethink your email strategy. 

You can enhance the subscriber's experience with your brand with contextual data. It's vital today to be able to do this. Without it, you run the risk that the recipient will increasingly view your emails as spam and, between us, they will be right. We have discussed this above. It all comes down to the opening of the email. It's a real tipping point. Either a positive emotion thanks to unexpected content that sticks to the recipient, or a negative emotion that will gradually turn your emails into spam because your content will be too boring.