Email personalization is not a new concept; marketers have included basic personalized data in emails for more than a decade. However, new tactics and technologies allow marketers to introduce personalization on a different level in order to give consumers a more relevant and lasting brand experience.
These eight best practices offer advice on how to drive revenue and retention through personalization.
1. Subject Lines Are the Hook
According to data from Eloqua that examined 202 million emails sent in January 2011, email subject lines personalized with the recipient's name had open rates 4.7 percent higher than average.
Subject lines are ideal for A/B testing, so don't be afraid to introduce other personalized content. This could include data such as the name of the product the customer purchased, a recent event they attended, or some other content based upon customer's actions.
2. Important Items Go Above the Fold
Include first name or the user's ID above the fold within the body of the email so you quickly capture their attention. If the user took the time to register with your business, then there is some implicit trust between both of you. Remind them of your relationship by promptly showing their names. This tactic is especially important for consumers on mobile devices as the limited space means brands need logical personalization right away.
3. Avoid Asking Too Much
In order to include personalization to your emails, you first need to have the data. To get this information you need consumers to either make a purchase or complete some sort of signup or other action (such as through a live chat) where they give you that information. Avoid being greedy—customers don't want to spend time with a detailed registration page that asks demographic data or other personal information. The more info you request, the less likely it is they will complete the signup. Ask for the minimum, use that in personalized emails, and expand your data as the relationship grows.
4. Data From Multiple Sources
Information about consumers can and should be gleaned from more than just a signup or a transaction receipt. Information about their site visiting behavior and purchasing patterns can be collected and analyzed. To collect this vital data, you need an integrated email platform that works with your ordering system, website and CRM system. Some companies provide real-time website monitoring tools which provide data such as how long a customer has been on the site, what pages they visited, or if there are abandoned carts. More data points enable you to address the customers' needs on a granular level. Did a group of customers spend minutes on an FAQ page without purchasing? Send them an email simply asking if you can help address any concerns.
5. Segmentation and Personalization Go Hand in Hand
Email marketers understand the need to segment their lists so the personalized elements are logically matched up with customers' actions and desires. If you start with a more personalized email campaign strategy, you'll want to conduct testing for your segments. Having more data does mean more segmentation complexity, but the payoff comes with higher open rates and customers appreciating the relevancy of your communications. Many customers are segmented by their lifecycle, whether they are at the prospect, active customer or lapsed customer stages. Providing them with the right personalized message at the right point in their lifecycle is vital for revenue generation and customer retention.
6. Automation Rules the Day
Triggered email communications are frequently used by companies to thank customers for signing up for the site or for making a purchase. While these messages are expected by the consumer, they are mainly courtesies and not intended to drive additional revenue. However, personalized messages based on real-time behaviors can be quite impactful. Using the real-time site monitor data, savvy marketers are setting up automatic messages to go out while a visitor is exploring a certain area of content. Even if the visitor receives it minutes after leaving the site, it does help the brand to stick in their mind. Personalization should also be included in standard messages, such as shipment confirmations, where companies can suggest additional products or services, perhaps at a discount.
7. Don't Go Overboard
Consumers are quite savvy and are increasingly turned off by overdone marketing communications. You want to introduce personalization, but don't overdo it. If your entire email template contains six or seven instances of personalization, then recipients might feel like you hold too much of their information (even if you do hold quite a bit). The personalization needs to make sense on an intuitive level and be done with subtlety. While you want consumers to feel a brand connection, you shouldn't try to be their best friend. Two or three personalization features per email is about the maximum.
8. Putting It Together
Email marketing remains a core revenue generator for nearly any business. The mobile revolution means customers expect immediate answers and can make purchases anywhere, but they still use email as a primary tool for learning more about companies. A key element of personalized email campaigns is they need to be consistent and matched with other platforms or channels so the customers receive a personalized and logical experience at every contact point.