With social media on everyone’s radar, has email as a marketing channel become obsolete? The answer is an emphatic “no.” With hyper personalization, email is still one of the most effective marketing tools that quick-service restaurants can use to acquire and retain customers. Thanks to open time personalization, the quick-service sector has upped its game and the customers are loving it.

However, the mantra to hyper personalization is how you get your act of algorithms right—that is having the right content at the right time and in the right place. For that “right” everything, quick-serves need to know who their customers are, what they are looking for, when they want it, where they want it, and how they want it. Open time personalization is all about 4Ws and 1H.

Individual customer behavior data is critical to open time personalization. The base is a customer data platform (CDP) which has demographic, transactional behavior information of the customer, all sourced from different platforms (point of sale, third party data, CRM systems, website, mobile app, etc). Algorithms take over and curate information about customers to create one comprehensive profile of customers for further downstream analysis from where one can drive personalized emails.

Open time personalized emails are highly dynamic where the content in the email is contextually personalized not at the time it’s pushed to the receiver but at the time he/she opens the email. Essentially, it means that if there has been any change between the time the email was sent and opened, that impacts what is published in the email, then the change is incorporated to make it relevant to the minute of email opening.

While it is personalized when it is sent to the customer, it gets updated with the latest information based on any transaction that has happened post sending email or there has been a change in the offers or availability of the product. When a recipient opens the email, the email client sends a request in real-time and the personalization platform, using its algorithmic intelligence, pushes the most recent and relevant content directly into the email template.

Real-time recommendation

To illustrate, a quick-service restaurant sends an email offer with a discount on Peri Peri Chicken at 7 a.m. to one of its regular customers, Lily, who during the day has browsed for Crispy Fried Chicken. She opens the email by 2 p.m. and sees an offer on Crispy Fried Chicken. Voila! That is what Lily was looking for and to boot there is a discount offer, exclusively for her. This real-time product recommendation may probably get the quick-serve a happy customer who, again, may look out for such deals going ahead.

Real-time inventory

Not just that, the real-time inventory updates feature makes changes or updates to the menu at the time the customer opens the email. For instance, the quick-service brand sends Robert an email at 9 a.m. on a combo offer (Veg Extravaganza and Wedges), but Robert only opens the email at 3 p.m. and the offer has changed from Veg Extravaganza to Veg Delight (also Robert’s favourite) and Wedges as the quick-serve ran out of the item. This real-time inventory update is win-win for the restaurant as well as the customer.

Real-time price and offer update

The real-time price and offer update is a feature that works for the quick-service brand while the customer is unaware of the price change that may have taken place in the interim period—that is from the time the restaurant sent the mail to the time the customer opened the mail. The brand sends a mail on July 23 at 9 a.m. of a combo offer—Almond coffee @ $6.75 and Banana shake @ $4. On July 23, the price of Almonds has increased and with a perishing stock of bananas, the quick-service restaurant revises the price and when the customer opens the mail the next morning, the price has changed to Almond coffee @ $7.25 and Banana shake @ $3.75 and the customer is unaware of this change, but is fine with the offer.

Weather-based recommendations

At 7 a.m. the weather at San Jose was bright and sunny. Grill & Chill sent an email promotion for their coolers and salads to their regular customers. By 9 a.m. it began drizzling and the weather got a bit chill. With open time personalization technology, Grill & Chill could instantly change the offers to Soup & Bread to those who opened the mail at 10 AM.

With open time personalization of email content, quick-service operators can delight their customers with contextually relevant, hyper-personalized engagement in real-time. This enhances customer experience, offer take up, conversion and lifetime value. According to eConsultancy, 64 percent of consumers expect companies to respond and interact with them in real-time and it is happening.AI algorithms make this happen with real-time CDP that activates audience and segments and then pushes that to personalization engine for 1:1 engagement via omni channel orchestration tools.  

Smitha BV is Director, Product Marketing at Algonomy which enables retailers with its Algorithmic Customer Engagement to become digital-first businesses. She is responsible for crafting the product value proposition, messaging, and go-to-market strategies at Algonomy. She is a seasoned marketer with extensive experience in the technology industry – building brands, generating revenue, and winning over customers. Prior to Algonomy, she worked with TCS, Standard Chartered and EdGE. She holds a postgraduate degree in management from XIME, Bangalore.  

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