Email marketing remains one of the most effective tools in your digital marketing toolbox. And in the age of personalization, it should come as no surprise that consumers prefer a personalized email. In fact, according to Aberdeen, email personalization increases click-through rates by an average of 14% and improves conversions by 10%.
Yet, many marketers are still not personalizing their email communications. In fact, a survey by Certona reports that only 39% of online retailers send personalized product recommendations. So why aren’t marketers using personalization when they know that it works?
The short answer is that it can be difficult. A report by Adobe shows that 60% of marketers admit that they struggle with personalizing their marketing content. Fortunately, this is a hurdle that you can overcome by educating yourself about how to make your email marketing more personalized.
Email personalization is far too important to forget about. That’s why we’ve put together a quick and easy guide to help you understand all that goes into creating a personalized email campaign. Below, we’ll talk about what steps you need to take before you hit send. And we’ll also provide some tips for sending more inviting emails (without seeming creepy).
Email Personalization: How to Get Started
Though you may want to just jump into email personalization, it’s better to plan ahead. You’ll want to make sure that you have everything you need before you start developing campaigns. Follow the steps below to get started:
1. Develop a plan.
If you want to get your email personalization right, you need to start with a plan. While creating a more personalized subject line can help you boost open rates initially, this isn’t a solid strategy for improving click-through rates and conversions over time. You will need to focus on all aspects of your email campaign if you want to get the most out of personalization.
As you start to create your email personalization strategy, keep the following in mind:
- Goals – What do you hope to accomplish through this personalization? It’s important to have specific and measurable goals in mind before you start any email campaign planning.
- Measurement – How do you plan to measure your personalized email campaign success? If you want to improve engagement, you might look at things like open and click-through rates. Whereas if your goal is to boost conversions, you’ll want to measure the conversion rate.
- Data – You will also need to consider what type of data you have on your email subscribers before you start developing a personalization strategy. If you only have basic information like their name, then you will need to collect additional data before moving forward. (But more on that later.)
2. Collect more data.
Once you’ve decided what your goals and metrics are, it’s time to collect further data. The more information you have about your leads and customers, the more effective your personalization strategy will be.
Start by looking at the information that you already have on your customers. Then, determine what other types of information might be important in helping personalize messaging and content for email.
You’ll want to find ways to collect data every chance you can get. Use multiple touchpoints to gather information from your leads and customers such as when they make a purchase, sign up for your email list, or download free content. When collecting information online, use a lead form like the one below.
Here is a webinar landing page that asks the user for personal details before registering.
While most brands will already have their customers’ names and email addresses, there is other information that might be helpful in personalizing content. This might include birthdays, job titles, and favorite channels. You may even want to survey your customers to see what their buying preferences are.
3. Segment your email lists.
It’s not enough to just collect data on your leads and customers. You also need to know how to use that data appropriately to provide personalized email content that is relevant to your subscriber list.
That’s where email list segmentation comes into play. List segmentation involves breaking up your email list into separate groups based on similar traits. Your lists can be segmented based on a number of different attributes including location, interests, or buying preferences. For instance, you might make a list of people who have bought women’s beauty products in the past. Or perhaps you create a list of consumers who all live in the same general geographic area.
Segmenting your lists helps you provide more relevant content to your subscriber list. While targeted email list segmentation takes time, it does pay off in the end. Not only does this improve personalization, but it can help you avoid high unsubscribe rates and improve open rates over time.
4. Automate the personalization process.
When it comes to email personalization, it’s vital that you find a way to automate the process. With hundreds or even thousands of email subscribers, your business does not have the time to create and send a personalized message to each person manually.
That’s where automation comes in. With email automation, you can automatically send out the right personalized email to the right customer at the right time. For instance, let’s say a buyer leaves your site before finalizing their purchase. With email automation, you can automatically send them an email with images of the products in their cart. While this would be nearly impossible to do manually, it is quite easy to send these types of emails with email automation.
Some brands will use a specialized email marketing software to automate their campaigns. However, many small businesses choose to work with a digital marketing agency instead. Developing and testing your campaigns can become complex and time consuming even with effective email marketing automation software. On the other hand, working with an agency allows your business to focus on other core tasks while your email automation is taken care of.
5. A/B test your emails.
If you really want to know what it takes to improve your personalized email responses, you need to test different elements of your campaign. A/B testing emails involves changing just one element of the email and sending two different versions out to two different groups see which has a better response rate.
For example, you might send out two emails with the same exact content inside but different subject lines. Then, you monitor the open rates for these two groups to see which email subject line had the best response rate. It’s important to only change one element at a time so that you can know for sure what exactly is impacting response rates.
Again, this is another time when partnering with an agency comes in handy. Testing your campaigns is a vital part of finding what works and optimizing your personalized messages. However, testing takes time and expertise to get it right. If you don’t have someone on your team experienced with email marketing, working with a digital marketing agency can help you save time and money.
5 Tips for Creating a Better Personalized Email Campaign
Below, we’ve put together a few tips for helping you send more effective personalized email campaigns that will help you stand out in your audience’s inbox:
1. Include the customer’s first name.
Though this may seem like an obvious tactic, it can work wonders for your email personalization efforts. By using the customer’s first name within the content of your email, you instantly make the communication less cold and more personal.
This email from RESAAS uses the customer’s first name in the opening line – “Hi Rachelle.”
It’s important to note that though this tactic does work, it is not enough for you to just use the reader’s name as part of your email personalization. Though this may make the consumer more comfortable in reading your email message, it’s often not enough to influence the conversion. If you want readers to click and convert, you need to go beyond just using their name in the email message.
2. Personalize the subject line.
Another great way to add a personal touch to your marketing emails is by personalizing the subject line. One simple way to do this is to use the buyer’s name in the subject line. For instance, you might say “A Special Offer for [First Name]” or “Hi, [First Name], Just Following Up…”
However, using the reader’s first name is not the only way to personalize the subject line. You can also highlight information in the subject that is relevant to the reader. For instance, if you’re sending information about a location-based promotion to consumers in a certain area, you might use the name of the city in the subject line.
By personalizing the subject line, you will help your email message stand out in the sea of other emails that have found their way into the consumer’s inbox. This personalization helps improve your chances of getting the consumer to open the email. In fact, research from Experian shows that personalized subject lives provide a 26% higher open rate than emails without.
3. Use the consumer’s purchase history.
Utilize the information that you have about the consumer’s purchase history in your email personalization. This data allows you to create and send more relevant content that the consumer is more likely to respond to.
For example, by looking at a buyer’s purchase history, you can recommend relevant products that the consumer will most likely be interested in. By sending an email with similar or complementary products, you are providing personalized recommendations that may encourage the consumer to make another purchase.
Here, Birchbox is making it clear that they are recommending further products based on the customers’ purchase history. Their approach tells the customer they care and isn’t invasive.
You can also use a consumer’s purchase history to provide him or her with more relevant content marketing. Let’s say that you sell an SaaS product. You are able to see how different users are using the product. This information can help you determine what types of content to send out in your email communication. For example, you might send a trial user some basic tutorials. However, you would send a long-time customer different types of content.
4. Send triggered emails based on behaviors.
One of the best ways to personalize your marketing emails is by triggering email content based on the consumer’s behavior. That way, when the consumer takes a specific action that you have designated important, they will automatically receive an email communication. You can trigger these emails based on a number of different actions.
One of the most popular email triggers is cart abandonment. Many ecommerce brands struggle with consumers abandoning their online shopping carts before finalizing their purchase. With a triggered personalized email campaign, you can send an email message to the consumer. This email message should remind the consumer that they’ve got items in their cart as well as encourage them to make their purchase. The message can even include some of the items they have left behind in their cart.
It’s important to note that this type of tactic requires email automation capabilities. You need to have software or an email marketing team in place to handle these automated messages.
5. Wish your customer a happy birthday.
Sending your customers a happy birthday message may seem like a simple tactic. However, it can go a long way in helping you build relationships with your customers that lead to repeat purchases. By wishing your customers a happy birthday, you’re showing them that you care.
The customer’s birthday is also a great opportunity to send specialized promotions. Take a look at the example below from Hawaiian Airlines:
Hawaiian Airlines used the customer’s birthday as an opportunity to provide a special promotion.
Sending a special coupon or promotion on the customer’s birthday is an effective tactic. Not only does it get the buyer’s attention, but it encourages them to convert.
6. Make the sender someone from your business.
Another way to create an effective personalized email is by personalizing the address. Rather than sending the email from your company as a whole, you can send from a particular person within your company. You can address the email from anyone within the company from the CEO to an account manager. This type of personalization helps add a more personal touch to the email as it’s coming directly from one person.
For best results, you may want to send your email communications from someone that the lead or customer is familiar with. If the lead has been working with one account manager in particular, you may want to use this account manager’s name and email address to send out the email marketing communication. Consumers are more likely to open emails from people that they have communicated with in the past.
7. Limit each email to just two or three personalized touches.
Email personalization is a great way to get the customer or lead’s attention. However, it can also backfire if you use too many personal details in an email. Using more than a few personalized touches can come off as ingenuine or even creepy to your contacts.
When developing your personalized email campaign, stick to just two or three personalizations. Limiting the amount of personalized information in the email helps you keep it friendly and relevant without making the consumer feel uncomfortable.
Email personalization can have a significant impact on your email marketing response rates. However, developing a successful personalized email campaign takes time and expertise. Make sure that you plan ahead and know your goals and metrics before you get started. And remember, the more and better data you have on your customers and leads, the more successful your personalization will be.
Do you need help getting started with email personalization? Have no fear! The LYFE Marketing team has experience creating personalized email campaigns for businesses just like yours. Check out our email marketing services page or contact us for more information.