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The first thing that the professor teaches in the psychology class is the importance of addressing someone with his or her name. Despite the changing customer behavior, one thing that has stayed constant throughout the years is that we all still love being called by our name. After all, the sound of our own name is a heart-warming feeling.
That’s exactly the psychology behind email personalization. The only difference is that besides the first name, we consider several other parameters to impart a holistic personalized experience to the email subscribers.
Email personalization is not just about using “Hey (first_name)” instead of “Hey there”. Personalized email marketing involves gathering relevant data of your customers and drafting exclusive messages that match their challenges and goals. It is about imparting a customized experience through every email and striking the right chord with them.
“Data” is the key here. The effectiveness of your email campaigns relies on how satisfactorily you can collect different types of data from the users. Depending on the business type and industry, you must create different customer personas or avatars to reach out to them with relevant messages.
It takes quite a lot of effort to execute a fully personalized 1:1 email marketing strategy but it is all worth the hard work it takes.
Personalization in emails allows you to reach out to different segments of audiences with relevant information that they would be interested in. For example: See how Nordstrom has personalized their email for the different segments according to their geographical location.
Imagine searching for a red dress on Amazon and receiving an email sharing similar product recommendations. Wouldn’t it facilitate your decision making process? That’s exactly how personalization works. It helps you to cut through the noise of random batch and blast emails and leave an impact on the subscriber’s mind, thereby encouraging them to convert.
Personalizing your email marketing will show your customer that you care for them and not just your business. It will allow you to build a stronger rapport with the prospective clients as well as the existing ones. For instance: You can send out a personalized welcome HTML email to the new subscribers talking more about the services they have expressed interest in.
Personalization is not just limited to the email copy. It also applies to your sender email address and subject line. This will give an identity to your company and show the human side to customers. Avoid a noreply address at all costs. Send the emails from an email address your subscribers can reply to in case they have any questions or grievances. It is a good idea to use an email address like email@example.com with the sender name as Kevin from Email Uplers rather than firstname.lastname@example.org.
By collecting customer information regarding their past purchases, kind of products searched for, and total purchase value, you can send out more relevant offers and recommendations. To illustrate: If a customer has purchased non-fiction or mythology books from your eCommerce store, you can send a personalized HTML email suggesting similar books.
As personalized emails offer valuable information that the customer might be looking for, they are likely to see improved click-throughs and a higher conversion rate. You must keep an eye on the customer behavior and send out emails that are best aligned to their preferences.
The first question that comes to a marketer’s mind before employing personalization is: How to collect data.
The simplest answer is to ask the right questions to your subscribers. Ask them the reasons for visiting your website, what they are looking for, and what challenges are they facing. These answers will give you enormous information about the users.
For example: If you are into the fitness industry, there might be several reasons why a customer signs up on your site. They might be looking for:
Each subscriber must be targeted with a different message that matches their end goals. Therefore, you must ask what they are looking for, in the sign-up form itself. Sending out the same email template to everyone would hardly leave an impact or get you conversions.
The same logic applies to all businesses, large and small.
See how Brooks has tried to get all the relevant information through their onboarding email.
According to the insights you already have, you must segment your email list. To start with, you can segment according to the basic parameters like age, gender, geographical location, and demographics. Gradually, you must try to get more information from them through subsequent emails. Once you have enough information, you must build customer personas by using a combination of preferences and actions taken by them.
For instance: Suppose you have an online digital marketing training institute. To customize the experience of all the students, you must ask them the following questions:
According to the user’s answers, you can create different customer personas. It will also help you understand your target audience better and craft a personalized experience for the users.
Try A/B testing to understand what kind of emails do your customers like in the inbox. Pick a segment and divide it into two sets. Send different emails to both these sets and see which one performs the best. Just make sure that you use just one variable element so that it is easy to analyze the results.
You must use the same tactic to figure out the best time to send your emails. Take into account the user’s geographical location while scheduling the emails, especially when you have a global target audience.
While some customers prefer checking their emails in the morning, some others might like to do so in their lunch break or after office. A/B test by sending out emails at different times of the day to determine what works for you. Also, pay attention to the time zones of the subscribers to send the email at the right time. If you have personalized the email with the right message but it does not reach the subscriber at the optimum timing, all your efforts will go down the drain.
Remember that email by Grammarly that lands in your inbox when you have not used it for a couple of days? That’s a bot but it still imparts such a personalized experience to the readers. These emails serve as a great excuse to communicate with the subscriber and draw their attention to your products or services.
To send such emails, you need to track the user’s behavior and target them with helpful information that will get them to take action.
The perfect example of a triggered email workflow that brings results is cart abandonment emails used by eCommerce marketers. Triggered emails are the most useful personalization tool that help you to ascertain how your customers are interacting with your brand.
Getting people to provide their information is quite a challenging task, more so because of the extremely competitive marketplace. Therefore, you must invest enough time in creating a landing page and sign-up forms that would entice the user to fill in the details and learn more about you.
Make sure that your landing pages are personalized according to the user’s needs. For example: If you own a digital marketing agency and a user has clicked on the ad promoting your content marketing services, you must redirect him or her to the respective landing page rather than your website home page. You can even incorporate personalized videos in the landing page to further enhance the customer experience.
Besides, you must also bear in mind that your emails are aligned with the landing pages. That will render a consistent experience to the users and brighten the chance of conversions.
Time and again, I come across questions like: “What to do if I do not have access to subscriber information just yet?”
It is quite natural that when you are just starting off your business, you might not have access to enough data. In such cases, you must focus on building your brand and establish a personal connection with the users.
You can introduce your team in the onboarding email or add behind-the-scenes photographs to add a personal touch to your emails. This will give a visual voice to the company.
Use the first-person and second-person narrative like “I”, “we”, and “you” with a conversational tone. You will surely see a difference in the way your customers respond.
You will be able to see the founders of Food52 Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs in action, in their welcome email.
You must be knowing that the email subject line is the most important aspect when it comes to email open rates. In addition to the sender name, the subject line works as the deciding factor whether the user will be interested in opening your email or not.
Subject line personalization comes into the picture here.
Let’s take a look at some tips that will help you in personalizing your email subject lines.
The most extensively used way to personalize the subject lines is by adding the subscriber’s first name in it. Amidst all that chaos in the email inbox, you are more likely to pay attention to the ones that have your name in the subject line. Your subscribers are no different.
What if you receive a custom email with a subject line that has nothing to do with your interests and goals? In most likelihood, you will either delete it or simply mark it as read and move on. That’s exactly why it is important to consider the subscriber’s interests and past interactions while sending them emails and drafting the subject line. Make your email look like it is created exclusively for the reader. The subject line should reflect that the email has something relevant for the reader.
If a user has purchased home decor items from your eCommerce store, it is a great idea to send them a custom email with the subject line that focuses on similar products that they might be interested in. For such a user, it would hardly make sense if you draft an email subject line promoting fashion accessories. Again, the concept of multiple attributes and segmentation based on age and gender comes into play here. That’s the basis of effective personalization.
Sometimes I feel most of the purchases I make are impulsive in nature, driven by Fear of Missing Out. I hate to confess this, but I purchased a number of courses just because they sent me an email saying “Hey Kevin, only 5 hours left…”.
That’s the power of using personalization along with an element of urgency. If you are in the eCommerce industry, you can use the same trick and create a subject line like: “Last 4 items to go” or “The offer ends today”.
Once you have collected the data that you would need, you are all set to send out personalized emails. Just like first name personalization in the subject lines, you can do the same in the body of your email too. However, be mindful of the fact that it can get creepy if you use it too much. It should appear friendly, but not forced.
Now, let’s reiterate all the segmentation parameters before we understand how to personalize email copy:
You must choose the most suitable segmentation parameters according to your business type and industry. For example: Events attended is not a segmentation parameter for eCommerce industry marketers.
Having said that, let us see how you can personalize your email copy.
Your offers would be of no use to the email recipient if they are not in line with the interests and needs of the target audience. What if you offer the job of a business development executive to an academic or technical content writer? The same analogy fits here. Someone who has searched for crockery on your website would hardly appreciate discount offers on mobile phone accessories. Therefore, you must make sure that you send out offers that are most relevant for the recipient.
Just like offers, your product recommendations must complement the previous purchases made by the customer. Suppose a customer has purchased dog food a couple of days ago, you can send out a personalized email featuring relevant recommendations like dog treats or toys. This would delight the pet owner and get you a happy customer again.
Recently, I purchased LinkedIn Sales Navigator for my side hustle but I could hardly find time to use it to its maximum potential. So, LinkedIn sent me a personalized email sharing details about all the features that I was missing out on. Now, that is a great marketing tactic to win the customer’s trust and encourage them to continue using your service. B2B companies and SaaS owners can reap huge benefits of such customized emails.
See how Grammarly uses the same tactic to win over their users.
It is a proven fact that images or other rich media elements like GIFs leave a deeper impact on customers rather than plain text. Now, what if you bring together personalization and visual marketing? It will take the entire customer experience to the next level. Adding personalized images will draw the subscriber’s attention and pique their curiosity too.
Here’s an example from Travelocity that uses the subscriber’s name in the hero image to grab their eyeballs. It will also get the users interested in what the email wants to convey.
Most of the businesses are using advanced CRM tools like Marketo and Salesforce these days. By using them, it is possible to integrate the customer’s data into the CRM system and set automation workflows according to the triggers. Whether it is your customer’s browsing history or the past purchases, you can add all this information into the database. You can send out more relevant emails by setting behavioral triggers in the CRM.
For instance: As soon as a subscriber signs up to your email list, he or she must receive the welcome email (or a series of two to three welcome emails).
If you are a B2B email marketer, the next step is to send them relevant lead nurturing emails that would convince them to purchase from you. Just make sure that you have segmented the subscribers according to their buyer’s journey. Otherwise, your drip email campaigns will be meaningless. Divide the customer’s journey into awareness, consideration, and decision stage, and accordingly, send out different emails to each set of subscribers.
On the other hand, eCommerce email marketers must send out promotional emails, considering all the segmentation attributes. Don’t use batch and blast email marketing as it does not work anymore.
Other behavioral triggers for eCommerce stores are cart abandonment, stock replenishment, and back-in-stock emails.
The behavioral triggers that you can use for any and every industry are: Post-purchase feedback emails, survey emails, cross-sell or upsell emails, and re-engagement emails.
These behavioral triggers are the best in bringing passive revenue for your business. Once you have set these workflows, it does not need any manual intervention. However, you must regularly monitor the performance of these emails and keep optimizing it for best results.
You can also integrate your social media and email marketing to send out behavior triggers based on the engagement on social media posts.
Take a look at this email by Office. They have sent this email as a part of their welcome email series to get the subscriber’s birthday. Again, it is a wonderful way to get customer data.
You can send personalized birthday emails to the subscribers and make their day more special.
In addition, you can also send out milestone emails that celebrate big days like the customer’s first anniversary with you or your company’s first 10,000 customers.
Here’s an example to give you a better idea about how to do it:
There are some Holidays too for which you can send out promotional emails. Just make sure that you do not mess up with dates. For example: Mother’s Day falls in the month of March in the UK, while the US celebrates it in the month of May.
You would not want to see someone tweet like this about you.
If you have a subscriber base in both these geographical locations, you must see to it that you impart an inclusive experience to them and send these emails on the right day.
For example: If a user has signed up to your website through the PPC ads promoting a discount, you can send out a welcome email with the same offer. On the other hand, if someone has visited your website through organic search results and then signed up for your emails, you can send out a welcome email without any discount offer. This is because the latter would have a higher purchase intent. Therefore, you can expect a higher margin on their first purchase.
You must consider the following points while utilizing the email engagement activity.
To illustrate, you must always send out a series of birthday emails. The first email should reach the user on the first day of the birthday month. The second email can be sent on the birthday, followed by the third email a couple of days later.
You can also celebrate small occasions like purchase anniversary and create a re-engagement email campaign around it in case the leads get inactive.
All the strategies discussed above are quite easy to use and widely employed by marketers all over the world. Besides these, there are some advanced personalization techniques that you can use for your email marketing strategy.
In the previous section, we have gone through the conventional methods to personalize different elements of an email.
Now, we shall see how you can employ AI to hyper-personalize your emails.
While you might need the help of a copywriter to draft appealing subject lines personalized for each subscriber, an AI tool like Phrasee can generate engaging subject lines with the help of powerful algorithms. It uses NLP (Natural Language Processing) which unites the principles of AI, computer science, and computational linguistics. Through this technology, computers can understand natural human language and even recreate it at times.
It evaluates the performance of every marketing campaign and then optimizes your subject lines with every analysis.
Employing AI in emails is not just limited to email subject lines. You can also incorporate it in your automated emails. You can use AI-driven software to use pre-written copy, visual elements, blog post snippets, promotional offers, and curated content to bring a high engagement rate.
Apart from improving the email campaign performance, these emails help to minimize human intervention, thereby allowing you and your team to focus better on business growth.
Amazon and Netflix are two brands that have nailed this tactic in their emails.
Take a look at this reminder email by Netflix, with the subject line: Don’t forget to finish Marcella.
Another exciting technology is predictive analytics. It allows you to predict the most significant customer behaviors, namely:
Let’s understand this concept better.
Understanding the purchase intent will allow you to customize the copy of your messages and their frequency. If someone has a greater purchase intent, a simple reminder might work better. On the other hand, some others would need repeated follow-ups and incentives to be convinced to make the purchase.
As I have mentioned in one of the preceding sections, record the product category that is preferred the most by every user. Based on this, you can produce tailormade emails, exclusive for those customers. For example: A company created exclusive emails for full figure shoppers and included images of plus-sized models which led to a 105% increase in conversion rate. This was possible with the help of preferred category data.
Advanced ESPs and CRM tools can give you a holistic view of your customers’ buying habits and anticipate the timeline of their next order. Subsequently, you can send out an automated email with relevant product recommendations at the right time.
You can predict the lifetime value of a customer by analyzing the customer’s purchase history, its frequency, and predicted date of repurchase. It will let you know which customers are more likely to purchase at a higher average order value (AOV). You will also get an idea about customer loyalty.
To illustrate: If a customer is predicted to spend $150 or less, you might have to incentivize them to drive conversions.
Contrarily, if a customer is predicted to spend a much higher amount like $500, a simple promotional email with a gentle reminder will make them purchase from you.
Lead scoring model allows you to track the prospect activity and optimize the marketing communications. You only need to integrate the lead scoring workflow with the marketing automation.
Sendinblue, Marketo, and Salesforce offer such functionalities to their users.
Here is a basic lead scoring example for you.
It means that if a user clicks on your promotional email, he or she will get five points for the activity.
In other words, it goes to show that such users are keener to hear from you when compared to others who do not click.
You can apply the same logic for your event invitation emails. A user who clicks through the email and registers for the event will get some extra points when compared to someone else who does not respond to the invite.
You can send out hyper-personalized emails by integrating your email marketing tool with the eCommerce platform, CRM, or accounting software. This will help you in importing useful information like the total purchase value of the past orders and all other details about their previous interactions. All these details will play a crucial role in imparting a personalized experience to the readers.
Preference centers are another great way to retrieve data for email personalization. You can use them to determine the email frequency for every customer or advanced details about their purchase preferences. It will, in turn, help you send tailormade emails to every customer.
You can make use of geographic and demographic data to add dynamic content blocks that change according to the individual customer. Consequently, every subscriber will receive offers and product recommendations most relevant to them. Campaign Monitor used this technology and improved the click-through rates by 29%.
There is a lot that you can do to personalize emails. You can get enormous information about it on the Internet and we’ve attempted to collate everything in this article.
That will save you the time of browsing through different websites across multiple tabs and give you a complete picture- all at one place.
Bingo! You are now all set to send out hyper-personalized emails and up your email marketing game.
Oh, and did you bookmark this guide?