August Release Radar

Welcome to a new installment of Zeta Release Radar, a communication series designed to help you elevate your customer experience with innovative new features in the Zeta Marketing Platform!

Release Radar

In this release, we’re excited to launch a range of new insights tools powered by the Zeta Data Cloud, the ability to connect to any engagement channel with the all-new Channel Manager, major usability enhancements for Audience Explorer, email validation and more. 

 

Opportunities

New Opportunity Calendar

Make your campaigns more timely with the all-new Opportunity Calendar, which shows addressable audiences and opportunities based on upcoming events relevant to your brand!

New Vertical Insights

Discover new vertical insights in Consumer Banking, Dining, and Entertainment. The New Mover Index unlocks new revenue opportunities based on location and transaction patterns of consumers that have recently moved or are planning to move.

Visitation Trends 

Identify revenue opportunities in Designated Marketing Areas (DMA) based on real-time traffic to competitor brands and other location visits.

Online Trends 

Create more engaging messaging by incorporating Online Trends that track customer and prospect interests in real-time.

Key Opportunity Summary

Save time with the new Key Opportunity Summary, which shows your top actionable opportunities available now.

 

Experiences

Create Innovative Customer Experiences with the all-new Channel Manager

Channel Manager is a powerful new interface that lets you add any external engagement channel to the Zeta Marketing Platform. Add new channels in minutes for instant use in the Experience Builder to seamlessly create, deploy, and optimize your omnichannel customer experiences across all of your marketing technology. 

To learn more about how to leverage the Channel Manager, check out the video here, and reach out to a team member to get started!

Drive Stronger Customer Connections with Two-Way SMS Messaging

New Two-Way SMS capabilities allow you to automate real-time customer conversations in the Zeta Marketing Platform, including quick-response surveys, mobile opt-in workflows, appointment confirmations, and more!

Validating your Email Content has Never Been Easier!

Reduce the risk of email content and template errors with new content validation controls. Preview and send test messages to multiple recipients in a single step. Add subject line prefixes, curate custom mailing lists, and properties for testing dynamic creatives.

New APIs for Better Customer Service

Two new APIs will help you solve a common Customer Service issue. When a customer has not received a particular email, Customer Service can now easily see what messages customers previously received, preview an email message, and re-send an email to any email address with a lookback window of up to six months.

 

Audiences

Maximize Audience Targeting with your First-Party Data

New Audience Explorer enhancements will supercharge your ability to discover, explore, and segment Zeta audiences with your first-party data overlay. Combine the power of your own customer data with Zeta Data Cloud attributes to create enriched audiences for better targeting. 

 

Easier Segmentation in Audience Explorer

We have simplified the Audience Explorer navigation to make it easier to find and activate your enriched customer lists and lookalikes. Clearer filtering, new suggestive search criteria, and bulk include/exclude capabilities allow for real-time counts and discovery through an intuitive, drop-down navigation.

We encourage you to try these new features and look forward to hearing your feedback! As always, if you have questions about any functionality, please contact your Zeta Account Team.

4 Marketing Tips for Travel Brands in 2021

In the eyes of travel professionals, 2020 can’t come to an end soon enough. Borders are shut, flights are cut, airlines are filing for bankruptcy, hotels are empty, and this is—without question—the worst year on record for the travel industry. At Zeta, we know the pain the entire sector is in, which is why we put together these marketing tips for travel brands in 2021. 

Tip #1 — Don’t stop pushing deals and discounts

It’s hard to promote deals and discounts when the balance sheet is bleeding cash, but research shows nothing ignites travel excitement like a good old-fashioned deal (as far as marketing tips for travel brands go, this is the most obvious). 

This will be especially true in 2021 as the global economy works to recover from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression. Use email to extend deals to former customers, and retargeting campaigns to promote special prices to known site visitors who demonstrate interest in certain destinations.

Tip #2 — Don’t obsess over “look to book”

In the travel business, look-to-book is often thought of as the metric to consider in evaluating any marketing campaign’s success…but should it be? Look-to-book focuses on cost rather than revenue and retention. While cost might be the most important thing to consider in a damage-control year like 2020, a recovery year (which is what 2021 will be) requires increased emphasis on revenue and retention. 

When engaged in omnichannel marketing (something every travel brand should be doing), things like page errors get factored into the look-to-book ratio, which can skew campaign performance evaluation. On the other hand, measuring the revenue per search (after conversions) across every channel paints a more accurate picture in terms of which channels are delivering the best returns. 

Tip #3 — Make sure everything is mobile responsive

Every travel brand can agree on two things:

  1. Today’s traveler lives and breathes through their smartphone. 
  2. Considering how abysmal 2020 has been, the competition for consumer dollars amongst travel brands will be more intense than ever in 2021.

When competition for consumer attention is intense in an industry, there’s a great deal of promotional parity. And when there’s a lot of promotional parity, travel-shoppers lean on experiential elements to make a purchasing decision. To that end, travel brands can ill-afford to offer anything less than an exceptional mobile experience. 

Tip #4 — Pay attention to today’s data signals to anticipate where people will want to go in 2021

It has NEVER been more important for travel brands to have access to the very best data and data trends available. Real-time access to accurate behavioral, transactional, and geographic signals can be the difference between creating a marketing campaign that delivers impressive ROI and one that crashes like the Hindenburg

Put another way, when signals start indicating a changing tide in consumer behavior, the travel brands capable of getting in front of people first have a HUGE advantage. Therefore, it’s important for travel brands to pay close attention to data signals in order to run optimally-timed campaigns with messaging and creative that’s personalized to the individuals looking to book.

Why should you listen to Zeta’s marketing tips for travel brands?

Zeta supports travel brands and marketers by becoming an extension of their internal team. We integrate our people, products, and drive for optimal performance into our client’s marketing framework to achieve the best results possible. Use our account strategists, programmatic traders, data insights, analytics, artificial intelligence tools, and the rest of our robust resources to meet the unique marketing needs of your travel brand. 

The Risks of One-Size-Fits-All Marketing During COVID-19

one-size-fits all marketing

Given the economic conditions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, marketers can be tempted to engage in one-size-fits-all campaigns to save time and money. However, the risks of one-size-fits-all marketing outweigh the purported rewards.

COVID-19 is impacting continents, countries, and communities in different ways. Marketers (and the brands they represent) need to take note of these nuances and adjust their strategies accordingly.

In plainspeak, it’s more important than ever to throw out one-size-fits-all marketing campaigns in favor of niche strategies.

That means going beyond basic categories of targeting (e.g. “Men aged 25-45”) and drilling down into the weeds of who a campaign is most likely to succeed with (e.g. “Caucasian and Asian men, aged 25 to 45, living in cities within coastal states, earning more than $120,000 per year”). 

But even that depth of refinement might be too broad in the months ahead. 

Doing better than one-size-fits-all marketing 

Realistically, marketers are going to need better, more detailed data that will enable them to paint a crystal-clear picture of the “who” their brands should target. 

That means considering personality types, political beliefs, spending habits, and more. Coupling demographic data with things like behavioral and transactional indicators will make marketing campaigns more effective at reaching and resonating with the micro-audiences most likely to deliver ROI. 

Signals derived from behavioral, transactional, occupational, and geographic data can do more than explain “what” prospective consumers are doing—they can also shed light on “why” consumers are doing it. 

For example, transactional signals indicate Jane Doe is spending more money on groceries in the last six weeks (the what). But why is Jane buying those groceries? 

Using more nuanced signals, marketers can get a better idea if she’s buying those groceries because she…

  • Lost her job and is worried about money.
  • Is on a new health-kick and trying to make smarter dietary choices.
  • Recently moved from a neighborhood with no supermarkets to a neighborhood with multiple supermarkets. 

The context derived from those insights can help a marketer decide if Jane Doe is worth targeting.

(An added bonus? Understanding the “why” behind a given behavior makes it easier to develop specific, high-impact messaging that’s more likely to capture attention and drive a desired campaign outcome.)

How we help clients combat one-size-fits-all marketing

At Zeta, we help our clients build niche, target audiences through the collection of real-time interest and intent data pulled from more than 200 million U.S. consumers. To learn more about our audience tracking and building capabilities, please sign up for a free demo of our Opportunity Explorer solution

Predicting the Future of Retail Marketing

Future of Retail

The massive impact COVID-19 is having on the retail industry can’t be understated—and it’s why predicting the future of retail marketing is so important. 

New data suggests:

  • Global retail sales will decline by an average of 9.6% this year, a $2.1 trillion loss from 2019. 
  • US retail sales will decline by an average of 9.1% this year, a $321 billion loss from 2019.
  • Foot traffic to big box retailers (e.g. Target) is down 25.2%.
  • Foot traffic to popular department stores (e.g. Macy’s) is down 91.5%.
  • Foot traffic to specialty retail locations (e.g. Williams Sonoma) is down almost 70%.

To survive, retail brands (be they ecommerce, DTC, or traditional brick-and-mortar) will need to make sweeping changes to meet the evolving expectations of consumers.

At Zeta, we believe the following changes are worth preparing for ASAP.

The “carefree consumer” will be in hibernation for a while

High unemployment (up 420% since February 2020) numbers are forcing millions of American consumers to pause on discretionary retail spending, in favor of meeting immediate needs (e.g. rent, groceries, utilities, etc.). 

The current hesitancy towards discretionary retail will be exacerbated in the months ahead by two things:

Number one? The sustained presence of the coronavirus. 

Number two? The paring down of existing federal stimulus programs (the latest Congressional signals indicate federal unemployment stimulus will drop from $600 per week to $200.)

These two factors will fuel a lackluster economic recovery (things are starting to look less like a “V”) and keep consumers hunkered down at home, sitting on whatever discretionary cash they can save until at least Q1 2021.

Price-sensitive shoppers will become the norm

When it comes to predicting the future of retail marketing, this is perhaps the easiest projection to make.

Consumers will be more price sensitive than brand loyal in the months ahead, and that’s going to be the norm for some time. 

In other words, great deals and lucrative offers will be the catalyst for driving sales for the rest of 2020—especially on big-ticket items.  

Personalization will become even more important

The notion of “personalization” is nothing new to retail. From promotions to shopping experiences, brands know how much consumers value curated engagement (it’s the lifeblood behind DTC brands like Stitch Fix and BirchBox). But just because they know about personalization, doesn’t mean they’ve been pursuing it.

That changes now.

With consumers pulling back on discretionary retail spending for the rest of the year, brands will need to do everything they can to take their share of a shrinking “dollar-pie.” That means getting serious about the power of personalization. 

(Remember, 59% of pre-pandemic consumers felt personalization played a major role in shaping their buying decisions—a number that’s undoubtedly grown in the past several months.)   

To do it, retailers must get more out of their first-party data. They need to invest in platforms and technologies that give them access to real-time behavioral, transactional, and location signals. Using such third-party signals in conjunction with first-party data (e.g. known email addresses, loyalty program numbers, etc.) will make it easier to develop marketing initiatives personalized to the expectations of an individual consumer. 

Drilling down into data will be non-negotiable

Naturally, better personalization requires better data. So, when it comes to predicting the future of retail marketing, suffice to say the collection and analysis of consumer data will become even more important than it already is. That means investing in platforms, solutions, and data management resources that make it easier to:

  • Understand consumer needs
  • Create compelling marketing materials
  • Activate a wide array of paid and owned channels

The more detailed the data and intent signals, the more successful retailers will be in stocking the products and pushing the promotions that are of greatest interest to cautious shoppers. 

Preparing for the inevitable return of normalcy

The retail industry won’t return to a state of “normalcy” until a COVID-19 vaccine emerges and the broader global economy starts to recover. Realistically, these two things won’t occur until the Spring of 2021 at the earliest. 

Having said that, truly preparing for the future means preparing for when things open back up. Therefore, this article can’t conclude without reminding retailers about the importance of creating memorable, in-person experiences in the future. The kind of experiences that allow a brand to position itself as unique amongst its peers with a clear, identifiable value proposition. 

For brick-and-mortar retailers, this will mean laying out stores in ways that optimize social distancing, while simultaneously emphasizing the placement of marquee products to maximize the overall customer experience. 

Predicting the future of retail marketing with Zeta

The COVID-19 recession is bringing BIG change to retail. It’s forcing the industry to say “goodbye” to famous names like Brooks Brothers and Neiman Marcus. Similarly, it’s forcing some of the industry’s biggest brands, including Walmart and Target, to rethink the way they do business.

But the good news is retail will survive—even if it doesn’t feel like it right now. For forward-thinking retailers looking to embrace even more granular data to provide improved customer experiences and make smarter marketing decisions, Zeta will be there to help every step of the way. 

5 Easy Hacks to Improve Email Open Rates

improve email open rates

Few digital marketing arenas are as competitive as email—that’s why it’s so important to learn how to write subject lines that improve email open rates. 

To help you on your way, we wrote this article (and this one too) to help your brand’s emails POP amidst all the inbox clutter generated by angry bosses, doting mothers, Nigerian princes, and all the competitors in your industry. 

Start asking questions

At Zeta, we’ve seen a clear pattern where subject lines framed as questions outperform subject lines framed as statements.

Hey Jackie, did you hear the news?

VERSUS

Hey Jackie, check out our latest product!

The best questions to ask are those that…

  1. Open a dialog with the recipient.
  2. Your email content will answer for the recipient.
  3. Trigger an emotional reaction from your recipient.

Questions are a psychological tripwire. When people see a question, they feel compelled to discover the answer or offer a reply. More importantly, asking questions increases your message’s (and therefore your brand’s) likability in the eyes of recipients

Here are some examples:

Make use of numbers and lists

Lists and numbered lists are still a great, eye-catching way to snag attention in a crowded email inboxes.

For whatever reason, people’s eyes are naturally drawn to numbers and lists (at least that’s what science says). Therefore, you should try to incorporate “listy” elements into your subject lines. 

Things like…

  • Top 10 Vacation Destinations for 2021
  • 5 Fall Fashion Tips No 20-Something Should Ignore
  • The 3 Best Credit Cards for Cash Back Rewards

Are always going to see more opens than subject lines that look like…

  • Great Vacation Destinations
  • Cute Fall Fashion Ideas for 20-Somethings
  • Top Credit Cards for Cash Back Rewards

Be a tease

There’s something compelling about a little mystery, which is why “teaser” subject lines can be so effective at driving up open rates.

Having said that, delivering “the goods” with your email—while always important—becomes imperative when using a teaser subject line. The last thing you or your brand want to do is leave people feeling unsatisfied. So, whatever teaser you use, you MUST make sure the substance of your email is going to back up the enticement of your subject line.     

Put another way, you need to reward the curiosity that drove your recipient to click “open.”

Some examples…

  • It’s All Ends April 19th
  • Will You Support Us?…
  • We Weren’t Going to Say Anything…
  • You Told Us What You Wanted to See…
  • This Is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things…

Use shock and awe

Blunt, matter-of-fact, and shock-and-awe subject lines that cut to the chase get a lot of opens—especially if they’re targeted to the right audience.

  • Help Me Defeat Donald Trump This November!
  • Don’t Let Nancy Pelosi Destroy This Country!
  • People Are Going Broke!
  • We’re Going to Lose $$$ On This Sale!
  • Never Write Another Job Application Again!

The final tip if you want to improve email open rates?—TEST! 

The only way to truly know what’s working and what isn’t in your quest to improve email open rates is to test. 

No, not just test…but test aggressively

The previous four hacks are good starting points to improving your open rates, but none of them are magic bullets. There’s no way to know with 100% certainty what combination of words will drive them most opens from your unique email audience without testing. 

Testing (coupled with optimization) is the ultimate open-rate-improving hack, so always benchmark your best performing subject lines against your new ideas. 

Marketing and Artificial Intelligence: How Marketers Can Get More From AI

In an age where people can’t stop talking about data, marketers still spend a tremendous amount of time guessing what tactics will be most effective in terms of driving user engagement en masse. The reason? Many of the available MarTech solutions treat consumers as loosely defined audiences rather than the individuals they are. (At Zeta, it’s a gap that’s being closed by bringing marketing and artificial intelligence closer together than ever before. Our AI-powered platform listens to consumers to understand their latent desires.)

Getting data to the right place, in real time, to create a single view of the customer is the only way to eliminate the need to guess. It’s also the only way to nurture 1:1 relationships at scale. Capitalizing in this way on the troves of data that are available to marketers requires AI—in this way, marketing and artificial intelligence go hand-in-hand.  

All the excitement and buzz surrounding the concept of “big data” sent marketers scrambling to collect as much customer-related information as possible. But what marketing professionals quickly realized is that large volumes of data are:

  1. Valueless on their own
  2. Impossible to make sense of without machine help

Using data in real-time to achieve needle-moving business outcomes requires marketers to move hand-in-hand with artificial intelligence solutions. This is the only way forward for brands looking to understand both prospective and current customers, and create an exceptional experience that speaks to them both. 

Abstraction marketing and artificial intelligence

Using AI, brands can abstract data to understand intent at both the 1-to-1 and audience levels—even to the point of understanding the way environmental factors (like weather, location, time of day, etc.) signal intent. 

In a world where marketing and artificial intelligence are more entwined than ever, it’s not about the data, but rather what can be made of the data. Machine learning and natural language processing make it easier to identify a consumer’s latent interests. When AI is used to observe people over time, marketers can find patterns (e.g. higher proclivity to buy after seeing social proof) which is a big deal when thinking about spending across channels on a per-person basis. This is how brands can build systems that create purposeful experiences that push consumers towards higher engagement.

Connecting customers, marketing and artificial intelligence

To build awareness and maximize ROI in 2021, brands need to buckle down and do whatever is necessary to start listening to customers at scale. This means investing in not just data acquisition and collation, but also increased spending on marketing and artificial intelligence. Doing so will make it easier to avoid the provision of a shoddy consumer experience (i.e. putting prospects and customers through a pre-canned user journey), which will lead to higher revenues, greater awareness, stronger brand advocacy, and more meaningful lifetime value per customer.