How To Stay Relevant When Your Email Subscribers Are Always On The Move

It’s common knowledge these days that emails you send could be opened anywhere and at any time. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of stats about the percentage of email opens on mobile devices — in general it’s over 50% for most companies and sometimes much higher.

What’s not discussed as often is how mobile devices and general global mobility are making many of your emails irrelevant. For example, I would bet that your last highly targeted email campaign assumed that your subscribers were in the location that they inputted into your preference center.

But, with international travel and migration increasing every year, it’s highly likely that many of them were nowhere near that location. In fact, approximately 232 million people live outside their country of origin.

A good example of why it can be dangerous to rely on this type of preference data too heavily is this email that I received the other day from Arsenal Football Club in the UK. As you can see, it’s promoting its new credit card in the UK. Problem is that I haven’t lived in the UK for more than two years now, so that data they hold on me is getting pretty old!

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Luckily, there are a couple of things that you can do to ensure that your emails are relevant, wherever your subscribers happen to be.

Segment Based On Open Location


Traditionally, email marketers have used preference centers to determine where a subscriber is located along with other important demographic data such as age and gender. Unfortunately, many subscribers will only ever update their preferences once, meaning that this data can quickly become stale.

(Traditional preference center from Allen Edmonds)

This is why it makes much more sense to segment and personalize your emails based on your subscribers’ last seen location rather than where they said they lived when they signed up. Many ESPs (email service providers) allow you to do this now because they track the IP location of where your subscriber last opened.

In the example above, I am targeting people who opened within 36 miles of San Francisco, rather than just those who said they lived there in the preference center. This is going to give you a much more accurate picture of where your subscribers reside and allow you to include the people who live nearby and might otherwise have been excluded from the segment.

Of course, there are some downsides to this. For example, if I visit another city, state or country and interact with an email, I run the risk of being placed in the wrong segment and receiving an irrelevant message, but I think the overall benefit greatly exceeds that one pitfall.

Use Geo-Targeting To Personalize Your Email Content


Another option that some innovative email marketers have recently started exploring is contextually relevant email content, based on the subscriber’s location at the time of open. This works by looking up the subscriber’s IP address at the time of open and then dynamically serving relevant content, based on that location. This is an amazing way to enhance the relevance of your email, especially if you have a brick-and-mortar store or run events.

Movember used geo-targeting in this email to promote upcoming events occurring in and around where the recipient opened the email.

J.Crew dynamically inserted a map, address and phone number of the nearest store location to where the recipient opened the email.

Allen Edmonds used Movable Ink to personalize email content based on weather conditions. If a recipient opened the email in temperatures greater than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the creative on the left was displayed; if the temperature was less than 40 degrees, the creative on the right was displayed.

As you can see, using IP location and open time personalization are currently two of the best ways of ensuring that your emails are relevant, no matter where your subscribers happen to be. I can imagine that this type of technology will become exponentially more sophisticated in the future.

In the meantime, it’s worth taking a closer look at your preference center data and asking yourself how accurate it is. If you’re interested in trying out live email content, then I suggest you check out these providers: Movable Ink, Kick Dynamic, and Monetate.