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By: Ben Bauks
The days when weekly email blasts were sufficient to push conversions and sales are long gone. Consumers have changed—they expect more from companies soliciting their business, and that starts with knowing who they are and what they want. That’s what Larry Drebes, CEO of Janrain, confirmed when he surveyed consumers—almost 75% expressed frustration at email content “that does not recognize them and adapt to their interests.” For Drebes, the conclusion was clear:
“These results [indicate] that consumers have reached the tipping point when it comes to being shown content that isn’t relevant to them. Consumers have been pretty consistent and clear in their feedback, the way to avoid alienating them is to give them what they want -- personalized, relevant content using their data in a responsible and transparent way.”
Personalized emails increase click-through rates by 14%, and 56% of consumers say the top reason for unsubscribing to email marketing campaigns is “content that is no longer relevant.” The question for marketers isn’t whether to segment and personalize their emails, but how best to do it.
Here are 4 best practice strategies to personalize emails for optimal results:
1. When in Doubt, Ask!
Visitors who visit your website come there for different reasons. You can learn those reasons by gathering and interpreting demographic and behavioral data, or you can simply ask them why they’re there—and use their answers to segment and personalize your emails.
That’s what the owners of Paper Style, a wedding specialist website, did. They were struggling to boost their email open and click-through rates, until they asked one, simple question: “What are you planning for.” Visitors had just 2 options: “your wedding,” or “a friend’s wedding.” They segmented subsequent emails based on this distinction, and sent each group a series of five (more relevant) emails. Open rates increased by 244%, and click-through rates by 161%.
2. Leverage Customer Personas
Customer (or “buyer”) personas are fictionalized characters each of whom represents one of your key market segments. Each persona aligns with key demographic and behavioral data.
For example, if you sell sports gear, one market segment might be male customers between the ages of 18 and 29 who live in the suburbs, have incomes of $30,000 to $50,000, and have purchased ski equipment and running gear. You could call this persona “Outdoor Sean,” then create a campaign geared to his interests and likely future purchases.
You would do the same for each of your other market segments to push your email marketing metrics higher. For example, when NetProspex, a B2B company which sells contact and company information, implemented a persona-based email strategy, they experienced a 111% increase in open rates.
3. Watch the Clock
You’ve probably read that there are optimal days of the week and times of the day to send emails. In fact, one exhaustive study on this subject found that the best time of day is 10 a.m., and the best day of the week is Thursday—but there were significant variations. Further analysis showed that email recipients’ optimal day and time differed based on everything from the industry in which they worked to their political party affiliation.
Rather than try to replicate this kind of robust analysis, you could simply monitor your own customers, record when they open most of their emails, and segment them on that basis. You could further personalize the experience by telling them that you’re sending emails at this time because you’ve noticed that this is when they like receiving them.
4. Use Behavior-Triggered Emails
It’s relatively easy (especially when you’re working with an experienced digital agency) to automate emails which are triggered by some action the recipient takes. If you’ve ever received an email from Facebook because you haven’t logged in for several days—that’s an example of a behavior-triggered email. Triggered emails can be targeted to a wide variety of user actions, from upselling emails that go to customers who make a purchase to welcome emails to new customers—and they work. Studies show that well-designed trigger emails have a 152% higher open rate than conventional emails.
Start Personalizing Today
Personalizing your emails is just one way to improve your customers’ experience by showing (rather than telling) them that you care about who they are and what they want. You should endeavor to ensure that every contact you have with a customer is personal and relevant. To learn more about how to personalize contacts to grow your business, contact us today.