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2 Ideas for Customizing Email Content: Weather and Language Personalization

by: David Pyrzenski (@pyrzenski)
19 March 2014

Recently, I delivered a Webinar for Retail Online Integration on personalization strategies for email campaigns. The discussion revolved around how to develop an approach for reaching customers in an individualized fashion, including the use of dynamic content for interest-relevant images, relational table content for abandonment programs, and Send Time Optimization for delivery at the right time.

The nice thing is that most of these suggestions are easy to implement out of the box and don’t take a lot tweaking to your current content or targeting. And there are so many options to choose from, that even with 45 minutes of best practices and use cases, we barely scratched the surface of what’s possible with modern behavioral marketing platforms.

I received a lot of excellent feedback and questions during the presentation and realized that a follow-up blog post would be a great way to expand the discussion. In this post, I’ll detail two additional ways to personalize email content and increase customer engagement.

1) Personalize content based on local weather.

Consumers want to know that brands understand them and the world they live in. One largely untapped resource for connecting with customers is weather forecasts.

For example, if you sold umbrellas, don’t you think more people would be interested in ordering one if they knew it was going to rain during the coming weekend? If you sold sunscreen, wouldn’t it be easier to promote it if the upcoming weekend was forecasted to be sunny and 85 degrees? 

With the help of an integration with, we’ve built some powerful weather-related rule sets clients have used to better target customers. One such campaign coincided with perceived weather conditions and promotions for grilling accessories. The company knew that its customers were more likely to grill outdoors when the weather was nice. So, it created a campaign that gave customers a reminder when the forecast for the upcoming weekend indicated it would be nice grilling weather.

The message provided a subtle reminder to stock up on grilling products to be ready for the weekend. Weather drives behavior (grilling), and thus weather can drive the promotion of that activity.

So what about the people living in areas where the upcoming weather looked to be unsuitable for outdoor grilling? They could receive email content promoting grill covers and free-standing grill umbrellas for the diehards who would brave the elements and grill in the rain!

How to Get Started: To see if your consumers’ behaviors or sentiment toward your brand alter seasonally or with conditional weather patterns, perform an email test. Send two identical emails, and reference the weather in the subject line of one of the messages to see if you get a lift.    

2) Personalize content based on language preference.

One of the Webinar attendees asked me a great question: “How and when should we personalize for language preference?” There are a few aspects to consider when answering this question. First, did the recipient explicitly tell you they prefer another language? If your preference center or sign-up form asked for a preferred language, then by all means you should honor their request.

Be careful not to confuse country with language, though. If someone lives in Spain and filled out a form in English, they probably want their emails in English, not Spanish.

Second, did they complete an action from which you can infer that they prefer another language without offending them? If someone visits your brand’s French website, for example, that may not mean they want to start receiving your emails in French. Perhaps they were just curious to see if you offered different products in France. However, if they clicked a button on your site to switch displayed language copy from English to French, you can probably assume they’d like their emails in French as well.

Beyond having the tools in place to understand your customers’ language preferences, you’ll also have to consider whether you have the resources to create properly translated emails in each language you would like to support. Improper translation can derail the message you’re trying to convey — just ask the Pope.

How to Get Started: Include links in your next email campaign offering different language options. For example, if you think you have a heavy Spanish audience, include two links in your next email campaign — one to view the content online in Spanish and one to view it in English. Change the database preference of those who click on the Spanish link to Spanish. Going forward, send them a Spanish version of the email with the option to revert to English.

Got questions about weather- or language-based email tactics? Post them below, and I’ll provide my thoughts.

Related Resources:

1) White Paper: “20 Ways to Personalize Content and Enhance the Customer Experience

2) Blog: “Personalizing Content on Every Channel

3) Ebook: “15 Post-Purchase Emails That Build Loyalty and Drive Revenue


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