Walk into a retail store, and a good salesperson will ask if they can help. If you say, “No thanks, I’m just looking,” they won’t interfere.

But what if, instead, that salesperson kept repeating, “Can I help you? Can I help you? How about this? How about this? Twenty percent off if you buy now. Twenty percent. Twenty percent.”

That, said Neil Capel, founder and chairman of Marigold Engage by Sailthru, “would be an ugly experience. But somehow we think this is okay to do online.”

Capel knows firsthand what a good customer experience should look like, as he explained in a recent keynote address (which you can watch in its entirety at the bottom of this post). His dad was a greengrocer, and “got to know his customer so well, he knew exactly what they were going to buy before they did,” said Capel. “It was a fantastic relevant experience.” When supermarkets first showed up, his dad’s customers stayed loyal to him.

To accomplish something similar online, a brand’s messaging needs to be personalized and relevant, every single time. In short, said Capel, “Relevancy is the new currency.”

There are three tools marketers can use to achieve this:

1) Content

Personalized content solves the “Can I help you?” problem. Country Outfitter uses emails that focus on the country lifestyle, rather than a specific product, to keep its customers engaged. The result? “It’s created a much larger customer lifetime value, [and] it’s increased the frequency of purchase and the average order value,” said Capel.

2) Cadence

Cadence is two things: Time of day, and frequency

  • Time of day. Capel gets slews of email from marketers at about eight in the morning, even though he’s a late riser and has probably never bought anything that early in his life. That’s just irritating your user, and it’s easy to fix. “One of our clients just had a great increase of over 40 percent just from sending email at the time that someone is most likely to convert,” he said.
  • Frequency. Sending email more frequently can bring a short-term boost in revenue, but it also generates churn. “If you’re hitting someone over the head every day, it’s not a way to engage with them long term,” said Capel.

3) Channel

Marketers need to know where customers are engaging, said Capel, or increase the risk of annoying them. If an active user on email goes to your web site, and then engages through mobile, you don’t want to be sending them push messages on mobile and also emailing them every day.

The Results When Put In Action

The Clymb, an e-commerce company that specializes in gear and outdoor experiences for adventure travelers, used these three tools to great effect. The Clymb had been using demographic data, segmentation, and guesswork to engage their customers.

Sailthru put all of The Clymb’s datasets together and started detailing the interests of individual users. In just three months, The Clymb saw a 12% increase in revenue per thousand messages sent.

Combining personalization with predictive technology made an even bigger impact: a 71% lift in email revenues, a 175% lift in revenue per thousand emails sent, and a whopping 72% reduction in churn.

It’s a safe bet that even Capel’s dad would have been happy with numbers like those.