We are in Palm Springs, California this week attending eTail West.

Numerous retailers have stopped by our booth to talk about our approach to hyper-personalizing email programs. And we have learned a ton about their challenges and prior experiences with personalization.

We heard from some that they have tried to personalize their emails using the same technology they use to personalize their site and the efforts have been uniformly unsuccessful!

Naturally, they asked us: why should we expect that CQuotient technology will succeed where those efforts failed?

Good question.

But there’s a good answer.

Site personalization technologies were built for situations where there’s valuable context to work off of. The site visitor is looking at a product detail page and you want to display some related products. You know what the site visitor is looking at. You have context. Given this invaluable context, it is not that hard to recommend something relevant.

Contrast this situation with email. You are sending an email to a subscriber and you have no contextual information to go off of. Sure, a very small fraction of your email list may have abandoned a cart or browsed the site recently but what about the 97% of the list who haven’t? What current context do you have for them?

You have nothing. So what do you do?

You have to go back in time and look at all transactions, site visits, email interactions etc. and build out a comprehensive portrait of their product tastes, category purchase frequencies, seasonality and price sensitivities. You then bring it all together to hyper-personalize the email for them.

In other words, you use the entirety of their interactions with you to predict that individual customer’s likely context when the email hits their inbox, and drive the personalization off of this inference. This is what CQuotient technology does and that’s why it moves the needle.

This is also why applying site personalization technology to email personalization can lead to failure. For those legacy site algorithms, if you don’t provide context, you have cut off their oxygen. No wonder they don’t perform.