Isn’t it funny how in a world where a simple Google search can turn up tons of information about a person, email marketing can still be so impersonal? I mean these days your personal preferences are so well tracked that an algorithm can figure out you’d be interested in something before you even know it exists (yes I’m looking at you Facebook Ads!)!
And with several different studies showing that personalized emails have higher open and click-through rates, better conversions and ultimately deliver a better ROI combined with the fact that there are now multiple tools that make it easy to capture more detailed information about subscribers; it seems ridiculous that so many email marketers aren’t making use of them!
Email personalization is nothing new, and marketers have been using it for more than 10 years. So if you aren’t personalizing your emails yet then here’s a few tips to help you get started.
Build your buyer/subscriber personas
Before you start personalizing your emails you need to think about the characteristics of your target audience. Then you need to create fictional profiles of your ideal user/customer/subscriber. Having these personas is essential to determining how you target that market, and also the kind of content that is most relevant to them.
With buyer personas you need to think about things like where your ideal customer lives, the specific pain points, their goals, their interests, their demographics and so on. But while doing this you need to keep in mind how this relates to your site/service/product. You might end up with multiple ideal customers, but this helps you to start segmenting your emails.
Ask the right questions at the right time
When it comes to email personalization, the whole goal is to build a picture of each subscriber. And just like with a real relationship, at first you’re not going to know much about each person. As the relationship continues you can start to flesh out this picture with other details you need. And determining the details you need will be based on the buyer personas you’ve already created.
But trying to get all that information when someone is signing up to your newsletters could scare them off so collect only the most basic information at that point – like a name. Asking for one or two other details that can help you send a personalized welcome email with a sample of the type of content they can expect to see in the future is not a bad idea either.
Don’t rely on one source for data
You might think that the only place to collect information about a user is from their sign up form, and maybe from a ‘preferences’ page on your website. But the truth is that you can use everything from your website and email analytics, to social media and market intelligence tools, and even what your subscribers do when they’re not online!
Once you’ve decided WHERE the best places are to find information about your subscribers, it is time to start integrating those sources so that you can build a custom database of the information you actually need to send your subscribers the most relevant content. Bulk email services like Campaign Monitor make this easy with API’s.
Also, remember to keep the most important piece of info – their email address – as up to date as possible. If you go wrong there, your messages simply won’t be delivered and it won’t matter at all how much heart you’ve put into the previous stages. Make use of some email list validation tool to help you get rid of corrupted data or multiple entries – one of such services is correct.email, you might want to check it out.
Use personal data to build segmented lists
You might think that sending personalized emails automatically means that your email lists are segmented but that isn’t actually accurate. The one relies on the other, and the more data you have, the more segmented your email lists can be. For example, everyone in your email list is going to get a welcome email that may or may not be personalized.
But you wouldn’t want to send an email about an abandoned shopping cart to someone who has never actually used your ecommerce platform. Nor would you want to send emails about a live event to subscribers who live in another country! And remember that someone has to design and develop every single original email that personalized emails are based on, so don’t get too crazy!
There is such a thing as TOO personal
Personalized emails generally lead to much higher engagement rates, but something you need to be careful of is going overboard with the personal touch. You don’t have to include someone’s name 6 times in an email just because you know it. Because that just makes subscribers feel like you’re trying a little too hard, and it’s a little bit weird.
For example there are mixed reports about the effectiveness of using someone’s name in the subject line of an email so your first step should be to run A/B campaigns to test which option works best for your subscribers. In some industries where personal privacy is a big deal, not sending any kind of personalized email is the best option.
Don’t use it just because you have it
One of the most important things you need to remember about personalized emails is the fact that you need to be careful about how you actually use all that personal information you’ve managed to collect. People are already uncomfortably aware of just how much information about them is available if someone really took the time to look.
And although you want to cultivate a more personal relationship with your subscribers, you don’t want them to think that you’re a stalker (or a potential blackmailer!). So keep your personalisations subtle. At the end of the day, there is nothing wrong with being friendly with your customers. But you have to remember that you’re not actually friends – so be discreet!
Now that you have a pretty good idea of everything you need before you send your first personalized email, it’s time to start putting your actual campaigns together. The first thing you need to do is to make sure that your email provider has the tools you need to start sending out bulk personalized emails.
Then you need to make sure that all the information you’ve collected about each subscriber is as accurate as possible. For example if you’re planning on using someone’s name to personalize their emails, then it would be a good idea to make sure that they’ve actually given their real name and not just typed in some random gobble-dee-gook!