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9 ways to personalise your marketing emails
Email can be a powerful way to communicate with your customers.
However, it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd, especially with countless emails landing in inboxes every day and vying for attention. In 2021, the reported average open rate across all emails was 21.3%, suggesting that the vast majority are left unread.
Securing an open for your email campaigns is critical. If the customer doesn’t read your email, then they won’t move into the next stage of the buyer journey and the engagement opportunity ends there, a factor leading to disappointingly poor conversion rates. Email marketing is an important tool within the buyer journey. Getting your customer to open the email is one step, engaging them with good content and clear call to actions is another.
The question is, what makes a customer open an email? There is a lot riding on the subject line and the first sentence of your email – the two content elements that are visible in the inbox preview and will therefore be the deciding factor for whether the user chooses to open it or bin it. These elements of content need to work hard for your tactical approach.
One way to improve your engagement rates is by utilising personalisation. This guide explores the best ways to include personalisation in your email campaigns and why it matters.
Why use personalisation?
Personalisation allows you to offer tailored experiences to your customers by delivering content and messaging based on their characteristics. It can be used in many aspects of marketing, including website, advertising and emails.
Personalisation has been proven to drive engagement more than generic messaging. 77% of consumers have picked, recommended, or paid more for a brand that prioritises personalised experiences. 63% of consumers also see personalisation as a standard of service.
By using personalisation effectively, you can demonstrate your understanding of your customers. It has the power to drive conversion rates by providing them with relevant and relatable content that progresses their journey because it suits their specific needs. It can also empower long-term loyalty and build strong relationships.
There are also substantial financial incentives – with personalised emails delivering up to six times higher transaction rates.
What do you need to personalise your email campaigns?
Personalisation typically ties into segmentation. This is when you split your customer base (existing or prospective) into groups based on their shared traits. Examples of defining characteristics could include their customer journey stage, interests, demographics or past behaviours.
By grouping recipients, you can send emails that directly align with their preferences or experience. The content should be more relevant to them, encouraging engagement and taking them onto the next stage of their journey with your business.
Marketers have noted up to a 760% increase in revenue on segmented campaigns in the past.
In order to effectively segment and personalise your email campaigns, you need to collect data on your users. It often starts with basic information, like capturing their names or location. Alternative examples include using tracking code to monitor behaviours, such as through your website and other digital touch-points.
You should also seek to gather other insight into your customers through research, buyer personas, and demographical information. With this understanding, you can build a clearer picture of what your customers want through your email communications.
Nine ways to include personalisation
The most common way businesses personalise emails is by including the recipient’s name, usually in the ‘to’ field, subject line or body.
It’s straightforward to do – all you need is the name of your recipients and an email platform that enables you to add in the appropriate merge tag.
While this can be a friendly way to approach your customers, businesses often fall into the trap of thinking this is as far as their personalisation strategy needs to go. It doesn’t add much real value and has quickly become a ‘norm’, so it won’t stand out. You need to go further.
Another way to personalise your emails is by sending them at a reasonable time for every recipient.
There are layers to this. Firstly, if you have leads based in different time zones, you will want to ensure you send emails to adjust to their location to avoid them arriving at random times of the night.
Secondly, you might have customer segments that are more likely to engage at specific times – for example, based on their working hours or lifestyle.
Finally, you will send some emails based on their behaviour – for example, a specific amount of time after they complete an action on your website. This typically requires introducing automation into your campaigns but can be a great way to send timely messages and convert customers onto the next stage of their purchasing journey at the perfect opportunity.
Importantly, the other element of your email that can be personalised is the subject line. We’ve already mentioned the ability to add names, but it’s also possible to differentiate subject lines based on the customer’s preferences.
The subject line is one of the first and only things a recipient will see before deciding whether to open your email. By tailoring it to the customer’s needs and showcasing how it will personally offer them value, you can improve your open rates and better target leads.
Once you have achieved the holy grail of getting that all important ‘open’, the next crucial part of your email is the content included. In your bid to personalise your campaigns, you need to provide content that aligns with that customer’s need and kick-start meaningful engagement. Typically, this will vary depending on where they are in their customer journey and the kind of products and services or subject matters that they’re interested in.
Examples could include guides related to products they’ve bought, guidance addressing the pain points or challenges the customer may be facing or you may have or new offerings that the customer may be interested in based on previous engagement behaviour or purchases.
Another typical example is product recommendations. Only 39% of retailers already send personalised recommendations – but doing so will highlight purchases to customers that align with their needs and wants, improving the chances of securing a sale.
Your main aim is to provide the maximum possible value to the customer based on their unique requirements, determined by your insight or their past behaviour, so they have a reason to open and react to your emails.
Many types of email should make up your strategy. However, the format you send will vary depending on the recipient’s needs.
A classic example is the ‘abandoned basket’ email, which reminds users that they have started but not completed a sale on your website. The email encourages customers to finalise their purchase – but will only apply to specific segments of your users who have undertaken that specific action.
By sending the appropriate type of email to those it is most effective for, you can deliver a personalised experience based on what they need to continue their relationship with your brand, whether that be product recommendations, transactional information or newsletters that extend the value of their purchase.
Even if you send the same content to different segments in your contact database, you may choose to word it differently. This means crafting copy that piques the recipient’s interest and matches their preferences.
You probably won’t want to drastically differentiate your copy for every reader, as it can be time-consuming. However, you may wish to present different pieces of content, so it aligns with specific customer profiles.
For example, let’s say you’re linking to a guide about “the best Instagram chefs to follow” Although it’s one piece of content, customers may have different reasons to want it. For example, a student audience may be looking for cheap and easy meal ideas, while an older audience profile may wish for more aspirational recipes for dinner parties.
By adjusting the copy, you can highlight how the guide will deliver value to that specific audience and lead them to click.
Another way to differentiate your email campaign is by using various imagery. Images can have different connotations to different audiences, so aim to find ones that are the most relatable for each of your different audience profiles.
For example, if you use images that include people, you will likely want these to look like the recipients you are targeting, so you might use different pictures for demographic groups. Similarly, if you use product images that you know they’ve previously browsed to convince them to purchase.
Providing exclusive offers and discounts via email is a great way to improve conversion rates by encouraging recipients to take the plunge. However, it’s best to tailor the offer to what is most likely to convince that customer.
Examples of ways you can personalise offers include:
- Discounted bundles, based on products the lead is interested in
- 20% off across your website for new customers
- Exclusive discount codes for repeat purchases
- Discount for customers who haven’t purchased in some time
- Buy-one-get-half-price, to up the order value of potentially interested leads
By creating personalised offers, you can persuade every lead to commit to a purchase based on what they’re already interested in.
Everything in your email should drive the recipient to a specific action – usually a clickable link or button to find out ‘More’ or ,’Buy Now’, or something else. However, the action the person needs to take will adjust based on the stage of that person’s journey – whether that’s the beginning, middle or end.
The best way to get a recipient to complete the action is to clarify and encourage what they need to do next. A call-to-action (CTA) will do this by giving the reader a ‘next step’ to take – for example, ‘click here’ or ‘sign up today’.
By personalising the CTAs featured in your email to the task you want that recipient to complete, you can effectively nurture them along their customer journey and meet your goals.
Email is tricky to master, especially with the low average open rate. Personalisation will help you generate the results you want from your campaigns while delivering bespoke experiences to your customers.
It is important to remember that personalisation should not be included only to tick a box. It needs to provide increased value and impeccable service to your customers, which means understanding their needs through careful research and segmentation.
With this insight, you can focus on providing bespoke experiences that encourage leads to convert, driving engagement, sales and loyalty. It will simultaneously improve brand reputation, with customers knowing they can always expect a great experience with your business and its emails.