3 Ways to Create Data-Driven Visual Experiences in Email

September 19, 2018 Tarik Hart

Hand holding a smartphone displaying an email image

Making the shift to visual experiences in email

A decade ago, digital marketers had to tread carefully when we used images in email. Technological limitations and lower bandwidth hindered the creation of visual experiences. It was important for people to be able to quickly read a message (on their BlackBerry!) without waiting for an image to load.

Data-driven messages had their challenges too. We could do things like pull in data to target and showcase a customer’s account balance, but we had no way to combine data with images to create a really compelling experience.

The marketing landscape has evolved dramatically since then, and now we have the best of both worlds. We can use data to power beautiful, visual 1:1 email experiences that truly connect with customers. In fact, these experiences have become critical to get their attention in today’s visual era.

Here are three ways you can marry data with visuals in your next campaign.

1. Help your customers succeed with infographics

Humans are visual creatures, and we digest visual information easily. That’s probably why we see a rise of consumable infographics — they succinctly summarize key data that people care about. If you use an infographic to display your customer’s recent account activity, you can create a data-driven image that is not only memorable, but also helps your customer achieve their goals.

A great example of this is from ADT, the #1 Smart Home Service Provider, and a client of both Movable Ink and Cheetah Digital. They wanted to help their customers get more out of their security system purchase and encourage them to activate their system more frequently.

They created their Pulse Monthly Usage Statement infographic email to show their customers how often they activated their system, and compared those stats to stats of other users. They also included helpful tips about the system. As a result, 82% of their customers said the email was helpful.

That’s how visuals can drive consumer behavior by making data more interesting. Data-driven infographics can help your customers get more out of your products and ultimately deepen their relationship with your brand.

2. Drive urgency with real-time intelligent creative

It’s one thing to serve your customer a data point that is relevant to them. It’s another thing to bring that data point to life in an image. And if you really want to get your customer’s attention, you can take that experience even further and add real-time elements like inventory levels to drive customers to act fast.

Let’s say you’re a travel brand that needs to promote seat upgrades for an upcoming flight. An email that contains a seat map that visually shows your customers the difference between premium seats and economy seats will be much more effective than an email without that imagery. When you make that seat map update automatically in real-time, you ensure that there is no disconnect between what your customer sees in the email and the currently available seats on your website.

And because your customer can see that there are a limited number of premium seats available, they’re more likely to upgrade faster.

3. Make an unforgettable first impression in your welcome emails

As a marketer, it’s your job to captivate people. Brands that capture our attention with exquisite visuals are viewed as innovators in their space. Take Nike, for example. They’ve always been a visual-first brand, and their recent campaign with Colin Kaepernick shows how impactful images can be.

One way to create those memorable experiences and show your customers that you listen to them is through visual experiences in your welcome emails. When a customer receives their first welcome email, you already have a small but mighty set of data points. In addition to their name and location, you might know about their recent browsing and purchase behavior, too.

Add that behavioral data to your welcome emails in a visually compelling way, and you will capture your new customer’s attention early on. After that initial welcome email, you can send your customer relevant information with a behavioral retargeting block in any recurring emails, like your weekly newsletter. The beauty of a behavioral block is that it automatically updates with relevant information every time your customer opens an email.

Next steps

If you want to get started with data-driven, visual experiences in email, start with an open-minded brainstorming session. List out all of your data points on a whiteboard, including the frequency with which that data updates. Let your mind run wild.

I’ll leave you with a final piece of advice: no matter what type of email experience you’re looking to create, put your customers first. Don’t use data for data’s sake. A truly great experience benefits both the customer and your brand. It will drive better results, and perhaps most importantly, it will help you create true 1:1 connections.

About the Author

Tarik Hart

Tarik Hart is the Senior Vice President of Client Experience at Movable Ink, where he is focused on maintaining the company’s reputation for delivering industry-leading service and strategy. Over the last two decades, Tarik has served clients in leadership roles at digital marketing companies ranging from startups to Fortune 500s, including Yesmail, Shoutlet (now part of Spredfast/Lithium), and Selligent.

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