Personalization is the ultimate strategic goal for marketing teams who are trying to boost email opens, click-through rates and other signals of engagement. When more than 500 marketing specialists were asked about their number 1 priority for 2018, 28.6% cited personalization, according to the BrightEdge 2018 Future of Marketing and AI Survey. It’s easy to see why personalization is the new focus in marketing. The influx of emails into our customers’ inboxes are growing by the second. By 2022, we’ll be sending and receiving more than 330 billion emails—every single day, up from about 269 billion in 2017, according to Statista. And other studies show that consumers are generally bombarded with 10,000 advertising impressions a day, according to the AMA. It’s this type of environment you’re operating in; one that demands a well-executed personalization strategy that gets attention, builds loyal subscribers and generates more sales. To get started, take a look at these 10 tips for leveraging personalized content in your next email campaign.
1. Get the tone right.
With all the advanced tools at our fingertips, including email marketing software, it can be easy to neglect our brand’s tone—instead, focusing on letting the tools to perform the magic. If your open and click-through rates are faltering, you may need to try harder with the personality end of your brand. Imagine having a conversation with a person for the first time…or even the second, third or fourth time. If you’re trying to impress them, you would put some effort into it. Perhaps, you would say something to break the ice, put them at ease or assure them that you’re a person worth spending some time with. The same approach should be integrated into your email marketing strategy. Take some time to put some nurturing into the tone of your brand. Every brand has something different that sets them apart. Make sure you’re communicating it. If you see areas where your communications are lacking in personality, get some creatives to give them some attention. You also hear a lot about using a conversational tone in your email messages. Check to see if you’re using pronouns like “you” and “we” and contractions like “let’s.” When writing emails, you want to talk the same way you would in person. Get a bit more enthusiastic in your approach. Life coach Marie Forleo, who has managed to gain more than 400,000 Instagram followers, masters this personalized tone in every email. A subscription to her email is worth the inspiration that’s delivered to your inbox weekly.
2. Don’t just use a subscriber’s name once.
Of course, a subscriber’s first name is among the first pieces of data you can leverage to make things personal. Don’t just limit it to that first opening greeting: “Hi John!” Anyone can do that. Find at least one or two more opportunities in your email body to insert the name again. Again, make it natural and conversational.
3. Invite feedback.
In many cases, email starts coming across as a one-way conversation. And you know how boring that can become. Avoid customer churn by Inviting your subscribers to chime into this digital conversation with you. It can come in the form of inviting them to contribute their thoughts about content featured in your email. Surveys also can be used periodically to gather more information about the products/services your subscribers are particularly interested in—which sets you up nicely for increased segmentation (which is listed in our next point).
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If you’re serving the B2B community, everyone on your subscriber list has a challenge they’re trying to overcome, a goal they’re trying to reach. Think of some common denominators and develop a survey that will only take three minutes for your subscribers to fill out. On the B2C side, you have the opportunity to have plenty of fun with surveys. Get creative in soliciting the feedback that can give you clues about your subscribers’ shopping tastes. It can set you up for even more opportunities to personalize based on segmentation. Surveys indicate to your subscribers that you care what they think. You also can show your humanity by letting them know you really want to meet their expectations. As a follow-up message, TaskRabbit sent a survey to gain feedback along with more data about their subscribers, including their frequency in using professional handyman services.
4. Segment. Then segment some more.
If you have been in marketing for any period of time, you can likely remember traditional marketing personas. You may have categorized your targeted audience into two, three or four categories. For example, if your primary audience consisted of parents, your personas may have included working parents, single parents, and stay-at-home parents, along with other details about number of kids and income levels. With marketing automation, you can dig in even further, segmenting your audiences based on additional interests and demographics. Rearrange images and copy to better reflect each audience segment. Therefore, a stay-at-home parent who really enjoys camping trips and other outdoor adventures may find your emails more relatable if you further segment to address those interests; highlighting the “Top 10 Family-Friendly Hiking Trails in Montana” as the primary message and image.
5. Deliver at the right time.
You may have invested hours creating a great message with the right tone that would do a beautiful job of connecting with your subscriber—only if they actually saw it. If you send emails at the wrong time, when your subscriber is typically swamped, you’ve just wasted those efforts. This frustrating exercise has led to plenty of studies on the best days and best times to send emails. And A/B testing. While those have served their purpose over time, you can do so much better. With the right email marketing automation platform, you can deliver emails to each of your subscribers with more precision. How? Using data history that indicates the best times for individual subscribers. And it only gets better. By tapping into your customers’ open rate data over an extended period of time, your platform will be able to deliver those great emails with more precision. Here, Anthropologie strikes as soon as a user browses a few items on the site. In this instance, the retailer was able to quickly say “actually, you were just looking at these.”
6. Provide helpful information to make life easier.
In some cases, timing is related to an upcoming event—a hotel stay, a conference, a concert. If you have the opportunity to send emails in advance of an event, you have the opportunity to score big personalization points with subscribers who plan to attend. For instance, if you’re a B2B company with a booth at a major industry conference, don’t just settle for the basics. Sure, you want to make sure subscribers stop by your booth so that you can meet them face-to-face. How about providing other helpful information? Send emails that contain your company info along with updates about the weather, top-ranked restaurants in the host city and tips that you have about making the most out of their time at the conference. If your business is travel/hospitality, give the subscriber a taste of what’s coming as CitizensM did with this great email message. It shares the unique highlights of staying at CitizensM properties and, more importantly, tips on how to get there.
7. Set up behavior-triggered emails.
With behavior-triggered emails, you’re able to create a more natural personalization experience with your subscribers. Did a subscriber just click on information about an upcoming webinar? That lets you know the subscriber at least had a bit of curiosity about the subject matter. Your platform can be set to recognize that trigger (behavior). Feed the subscriber’s curiosity by sending a series of emails as a follow-up to increase engagement. The opportunities to personalize your emails through a behavior-triggered approach are extensive. If a regular subscriber hasn’t opened your emails or stopped by your site for a while, that’s another activity (or non-activity) that can trigger an automated response from your platform. Did someone just check out dress shirts but abandoned their search? There are dozens of possibilities of why the shopper may have been distracted. Set up behavior-triggered emails to remind online shoppers of what they seem to be interested in. Consider it a reminder. Many online retailers use some form of behavior-triggered email strategy to address cart abandonment.
8. Recognize the milestones.
In any solid relationship, you score points by celebrating those major milestones—birthdays, anniversaries, etc. ‘ Keep things really special and personalized with your subscribers by including these type of occasions in your email marketing campaigns. You have no excuse to miss out on any special day. Data and your email marketing platform are busy behind the scenes, making sure that you deliver a personal message when someone hits an anniversary date with you or if their birthday is around the corner. Make sure you celebrate! DSW gives a shoe lover a reason to celebrate their long relationship with the retailer in an email that features the subject line: “You’ve been a VIP 17 years!” DSW manages to pack a furry dog, perks, its community service, a survey and a nice quote from a fellow VIP-er in one email.
9. Use your team’s names when possible.
In the B2B world, where things may be a bit more formal, you still have the opportunity to break down plenty of barriers. Whenever possible, use a real person’s name in the “From” line. An email from Jacob who works at Company X will come across as much more personalized than an email from Company X. It’s a simple switch but it can make a nice impact. Test it out to see what happens.
10. Pick up cues about location.
Beyond personalizing based on time zones, geography can give you additional opportunities to create emails that connect with your audiences. Many, many more opportunities. Capitalize on opportunities to use sports teams, the weather, events and other relevant information based on geography. Subscribers in Michigan, North Dakota and New York are prime candidates for deals on snow shovels and heavy-duty parkas right around November or December, while you may want to send subscribers in San Diego, Austin and Chicago plenty of promotions for running shoes. Papa John’s Pizza, which has received plenty of publicity around the NFL and protesting players, stepped out to make a connection to its local subscribers in Indianapolis with this simple subject line: “Colts Won Yesterday: 50% Off Pizzas Today!” In a previous email, the appeal was to help support Indiana University’s dance marathon. Personalizing your emails can help you develop better relationships with your subscribers, giving them even more reasons to feel connected to your brand. With a thoughtful approach and the tools to help you streamline the process, you can start seeing an increase in engagement, brand loyalty and sales. Need more guidance on delivering on personalization more effectively? Contact us at Delivra. We’ll give you a test run on our email marketing software to show you how it can work for you.