Step up your email personalization game

To give your email marketing program a competitive edge, leverage timing, location and behavior to provide relevancy for customers.

Step up your email personalization game

Many brands struggle to move beyond basic personalization tactics such as the use of the recipient’s first name. In fact, only 37 percent of consumers say that the personalization they receive from marketers is adequate, according to a new Yes Marketing study. (my employer) [registration required]

On top of that, consumers see more and more emails in their inboxes every day. About 269 billion emails were sent and received each day in 2017, and experts predict that figure will grow to almost 320 billion daily emails by 2021.

If the survey numbers weren’t enough, the sheer volume of emails in consumer inboxes should motivate you to step up your email personalization game. Your competitors are already out there making it happen. Now is the time to stop procrastinating on personalization and figure out how you can keep your customers excited to see (or better yet, look for) your email among a sea of needy brands.

5 personalization strategies to try today

Before we dive into personalization strategies that can give your email marketing program a competitive edge, it’s important to touch on “why” the strategies below are powerful. While it sounds simple, all of these strategies focus on relevancy. Timing, location, and behavior in the data you collect, when leveraged properly, will always increase your connection with your customers. If you implement any one of the ideas below, you will see your email program ROI accelerate.

Step up your email personalization game

1. Use real-time data to trigger emails: This type of email is personalized based on real-time data like location, weather, or other events. Real-time emails target segments of subscribers at a time when the email content is most relevant to them.

Marketers can use real-time data creatively to increase relevancy with their customers. Major events like sports, community initiatives and weather (snow or rain) can elevate emails and boost engagement. The use of real-time data helps marketers take advantage of the moment, and relate to the individual’s current surroundings and potential mood.

GrubHub does a great job of this when they send emails based on weather data. They know their demand for food delivery increases when it’s raining, snowing or abnormally cold and they send emails to take advantage of these weather moments when they happen. Dunkin Donuts uses a similar approach by mentioning home team sports wins in subject lines paired with a local offer to capitalize on a positive moment in subscribers’ lives.

2. Incorporate subscribers’ email activity: You have data about your subscribers’ email activity within your ESP (email service provider). You know when they first subscribed, how many emails they’ve opened in a row or how active they have been. Leverage this data in creative ways to keep your subscribers engaged.

For example, brands should send personalized emails to subscribers to celebrate significant milestones in the relationship (e.g., the anniversary of when they first subscribed), or to re-engage them if they haven’t engaged over a certain period of time.

TheSkimm, a daily newsletter, puts this idea to work in an awesome anniversary email. The email informs subscribers about their personal histories with the newsletter, such as the date they first subscribed and how many minutes they’ve spent reading it to make it more fun.

3. Personalize based on psychographics: Marketers can also use psychographic data, including consumer interests, lifestyle, beliefs and attitudes, to inform email personalization. This type of data can help marketers identify images and content that is more relevant to segments of their audiences.

West Marine does a good job using psychographic data to personalize the subject line along with product recommendations and images for sailboat enthusiasts. These subscribers receive subject lines that specifically mention sailboats, images of sailboats and product recommendations that relate to this hobby.

As a part of the opt-in process or welcome series, all marketers should expand their preference centers to ask relevant questions that uncover subscribers’ specific interests and help execute similar personalization strategies.

4. Take a new approach to the first name: It’s easy for marketers to collect subscriber’s first names, personalize subject lines and email content accordingly. Savvy brands use subscribers’ names in much more creative ways to create a deeper connection with their products.

A great example I saw in my inbox was from Lands’ End. The retailer incorporated subscribers’ first names in product imagery, which helped the customer feel a more personal and emotional connection around the holidays. Land’s End promoted its personalized stockings, showing each subscriber what a stocking would look like embroidered with his or her name.

5. Give your purchase confirmation emails a new twist: If you’re like most marketers, you have a strategy in place to send an order receipt via email. These emails are typically standard thank-you messages that remind the subscriber what he or she purchased. While most marketers categorize purchase confirmation emails as the ‘set it and forget it’ type, they present a major opportunity to engage on a more personal level and get subscribers back to the website to re-purchase.

Walgreens donates a portion of its proceeds on certain items to people in need and uses purchase confirmation emails to communicate information about its efforts. These emails are personal thank-you notes that provide more detail about how the subscriber’s purchase helps others. The subject line, hero image and dynamic content blocks mention the subscriber’s name and his or her purchase while promoting the brand’s community-focused efforts.

Warby Parker uses personalized purchase confirmation emails to give subscribers a reason to continue engaging with the brand. The brand sends these emails after the customer receives his or her purchase, and they contain relevant and helpful information about how to clean or adjust the specific glasses purchased. Warby Parker is smart to embrace emails like these since glasses aren’t an item people buy often. The helpful and insightful tips within these emails keep Warby Parker top of mind when it’s time to buy another pair of glasses.

As inboxes become more saturated, marketers need to do everything they can to stand out or risk declining engagement rates. Take advantage of the data you have at your fingertips to implement one of the ideas listed above to send more creative and relevant emails to your subscriber base.

If you’re still personalizing based on name only, you probably already know it’s time to step up your game.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Kyle Henderick is Director of Client Services at Yes Marketing, a single solution provider who delivers relevant communications across all channels for mid and enterprise-sized companies. Kyle is responsible for helping major clients implement new programs, processes, and data-driven strategies to create campaigns that truly drive revenue. With a passion for technology implementation and a background in database, email, web, and social media marketing, Kyle turns his real-world experience into executable tactics to help clients see an incremental lift in revenue, subscriber engagement, and customer retention. A lover of all things Chicago, when Kyle is not reading up on latest marketing practices or focusing on improving client programs, he can be found enjoying the city’s great restaurants or wearing his heart on his sleeve while rooting for all Chicago-based sports teams. A curious individual willing to try any and every food that does not include raw onions, he is always looking for exciting dining options and new adventures around the city.

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