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Pinterest is one of the most personalized sites in the world, thanks to the incredible amount of data its users volunteer and a data science team that just keeps on growing.

But user engagement isn’t limited to Pinterest’s website. Naturally, the company continues to interact with users in other channels, too.

Although there’s been plenty of talk over the years that social media would kill email, the fact is that social media sites send an incredible amount of email.

Pinterest is no exception.

The company has now shared details of its relationship with SparkPost, as it extends the personalized feel of its site to email.

An email sent from Pinterest with content personalized to the individual receiver

Above: An email sent from Pinterest with content personalized to the individual recipient

For those unfamiliar with SparkPost, its parent company Message Systems is the backbone that powers 25 percent of the world’s legitimate email. SparkPost counts many other Internet and social media companies as customers too, including the likes of Twitter, LinkedIn, Groupon,, Kayak, and Zillow.

Seth Weisfeld leads Pinterest’s efforts around all notifications, including desktop, email, push notifications, and SMS. He said, “Email is an extension of the product. Pinterest itself is very personalized platform, so email needs to be, too.”

Weisfeld said the marketer’s dream of achieving one-to-one personalized engagement is on the cusp of being a reality.

The vision we’ve talked about for years, a one-to-one marketing strategy that is natively multichannel, is actually achievable today. The quality of the technology to leverage big data and notifications is there.

SparkPost example of email engagement metrics over an hour

Above: SparkPost example of email engagement metrics over an hour

In 2016 Pinterest will move away from batch campaigns altogether. The company will also have an entirely multichannel strategy, delivering the most appropriate message on the right channel based on individual behaviors and preferences. Said Weisfeld:

The vast majority of emails are personalized by individual; there’s no batch campaigning. There may still be a few legacy programs like that, but outside of product marketing all messages will be one-to-one, based on users’ interests, pins, and whatever else we think they may be interested in.

SparkPost is only now announcing Pinterest as a customer, although the relationship is about a year old at this point.

Steve Dille, SparkPost’s CMO, said that many of the social media and daily deal sites they count as customers are leading modern engagement strategies. “Modern,” he elaborated, “in the sense of driving the future away from batch and blast to personalized, one-to-one approach.”

Dille was talking about triggered emails in particular, which are sent based on specific actions users take, like pinning, liking, subscribing, or any others that can be tracked. Trigger-based emails are a big part of personalization, because they can be set to correspond to specifically defined actions. Epsilon recently found that the open rates of trigger-based emails are 68 percent higher, and the click-through rate 228 percent higher, than batch emails.

VB Insight’s own report on email personalization finds a tremendous impact of personalization, although adoption of many high-ROI strategies remains low.

Email personalization - opens and clicks

Why aren’t more marketers doing a better job with personalization, by using triggers and other tactics?

“Many are held back by their ESPs,” said Dille. “ESPs were architected for the state of email 10 years ago. What’s needed is a modern email sending platform that you connect to via APIs via internal systems where they can segment internally.”

Pinterest uses SparkPost’s APIs to change subject lines in real time, for example, without having to wait for the data to come in later.

Pinterest’s Weisfeld said, “Notifications — email, SMS, push, etc. — is on the cusp of everyone being able to leverage a multichannel personalized engagement strategy. We don’t have to use every piece of information, but just being able to cohort and use triggers goes a long way.”

The data and technology available today provide marketers an unprecedented opportunity to engage customers with truly personalized email. For those able to put together the pieces, that is.

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