Dear [Insert Name Here]: Personalization in Email Marketing

Published October 3, 2013 4:18 pm by LoSasso
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More than promotions, price and quality, customers ultimately care about one thing: themselves. Nothing will catch a person’s attention like seeing his or her name on marketing material. Email marketing, in particular, offers a unique opportunity to address customers by name. Marketers can personalize content with the “made-specially-for-you” sentiment.

Most marketers identify competition as any organization selling the same product or offering the same service. With email marketing, however, you’re competing with every email in a consumer’s inbox. Your email needs to catch the reader’s attention amid a swarm of promotional, personal and work emails. Personalization helps convince customers that your message is worth opening.

Although email personalization is not a new concept, surprisingly few marketers utilize email personalization tactics. This could be because marketers don’t fully understand what personalization means and don’t know how to successfully execute a personalized campaign without being too forward—pushing customers away. Others don’t want to spend time testing a new tactic when their old tactics perform well enough.

In this vein, it’s important to understand that “personalization” simply implies that there is a human element to the content. With the rise of social media, people expect communication with a personal touch. It doesn’t necessarily mean using the customer or prospect’s first and last name in an email. Companies can add personalization by segmenting the audience into groups with common traits or interests—then including relevant information in the body of the email. Begin an email with “Dear chocolate lover” or say, “As a business in the metal-working industry, we though this might interest you.” With these little touches, customer will be more likely to interact with the marketing piece.

Even with a complete understanding of personalization, some companies don’t want to put forth the effort to create a personalized campaign. As the end of the month approaches and companies need to hit their numbers, it’s easy to stick to the same “batch and blast” promotion tactics. While that approach may produce good results immediately, it will negatively affect results over time. The transition to personalized email campaigns can be made easy, however, by creating a template for personalized emails.

When collecting information from customers, only ask for relevant information. Asking for too much too soon can kill the conversion rate, but asking for too little can make it difficult to accurately segment your database. For best results, collect customer information gradually and start with basic demographic information. From there, you can infer more detailed information. For instance, customers in Chicago probably won’t need fertilizer in the winter and middle-age adults won’t be interested in discounted student loans.

Personalizing an email campaign can be quick and simple—and the extra effort pays off. Just by adding a customer’s name to the subject line, the click-through and open rates are likely to increase. Of course, for best results, personalization should always be used in tandem with other marketing tactics such as promotions, offers or calls to action. When used appropriately, however, personalization can be the difference between a spam-destined mass email and a successful email campaign.

– Jennifer Mitchell