Why Decision Velocity is Essential to Digital Media Personalization
May 10, 2021
Twenty years ago, most people woke up to find a newspaper in their mailbox or on their driveway. And this daily publication was the go-to source for local, national, and global news.
But now, a growing number of your audience wakes up and checks their email for a favorite newsletter first. Rather than sift through pages of news that may or may not be relevant, your newsletter subscribers have access to all the info they care about at a glance from the one source they trust: you.
Tailored content and one-to-one email personalization is quickly becoming the gold standard for media companies looking to rise above the clamor of competitors in an increasingly crowded industry landscape.
Which is where decision velocity comes into play. Instead of serving up one-size-fits all emails, media groups can use machine learning and predictive analytics to make high-speed strategy adjustments in response to real-time audience feedback.
That way, subscribers and loyal readers receive fresh, engaging content tailored to their interests, location, time of open, and more every day.
What is decision velocity?
Without efficient decision-making in marketing, you can’t compete. Especially when you consider all the change taking place across today’s media landscape. As Jeff Bezos put it in a recent business letter to shareholders, decision velocity is “The ability of any business to quickly pivot in order to make rapid-fire choices, big and small, for the overall good of the company.”
The trick, however, is balancing speed with effectiveness. Because a quick decision isn’t always the best one.
“You have to somehow make high-quality, high-velocity decisions,” Bezos wrote. “It’s easy for startups and very challenging for large organizations. The senior team at Amazon is determined to keep our decision-making velocity high. Speed matters in business — plus a high-velocity decision-making environment is more fun too.”
So, what does decision velocity mean for anyone looking to stand out in a sea of similar content? For starters, it means accelerating personalization to deliver relevant, real-time content when it matters most.
Personalization is essential in the email newsletter era
During the pandemic, millions of new readers signed up for email newsletters. According to a study by Piano, pre-pandemic email newsletter subscriptions were down by 34% in Europe during the months of January and February 2020. But in March, that trend quickly reversed as email newsletter subscriptions dropped just 17%.
Beyond a boom in new subscribers, this increased activity gave media brands the chance to learn more than ever about their audience. Which topics resonate most with readers? Which formats keep subscribers on your site longest? What are the best days and times to send your emails?
Rather than relying on assumptions and outdated segmentation models, a decision velocity-driven personalization strategy ensures your digital media initiatives deliver exactly what your audience demands. And that not only maximizes the engagement level of every individual follower, but keeps loyal readers regularly coming back.
For example, when the San Francisco Chronicle wanted to not only attract subscribers to its newsletter but keep those subscribers engaged, the publisher used machine learning to collect data on the kinds of stories individual subscribers were most likely to read.
Once combined with its robust recommendation algorithm, this data helped the brand increase its email click-through rate by more than 31%. Proving that the intuitive, personalized responses to subscriber cues core to decision velocity have the potential for a big-time payoff if executed properly.
How Morning Brew made decision velocity an art
In the email newsletter space, Morning Brew isn’t just one of decision velocity’s original models of success. A commitment to continuous learning about subscriber behavior is helping the brand innovate even further.
With more than 2.4 million subscribers, Morning Brew is always looking for ways to make sure its loyal readers are only getting the content that resonates. Decisions always prioritize engagement, and these decisions usually need to happen fast. At the beginning of the pandemic, for example, Morning Brew noticed its users responded well to content focused on living well amid stay-at-home orders. And that revelation alone spawned an entirely new vertical for the publisher.
“In late March, we started giving readers more recommendations on how to live their best quarantine lives, pass the time, and be productive. We saw great engagement and to double down on that, we launched a pop-up newsletter called The Essentials,” Jenny Rothenberg, Morning Brew’s Director of Growth, recently told eMarketer, adding that 175,000 people subscribed within three days.
But this realization couldn’t have come without the power of automation, which enables decision velocity based on real-time subscriber data. Robust user profiles can now capture key data like interests, email trends, omnichannel behavior, and purchase tendencies, in addition to traditional data such as clicks, to create a more comprehensive picture of which stories subscribers are enjoying now and which topics should be considered moving forward.
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