How to begin with personalization in your email marketing


Will Pearson

When it comes to personalization in email marketing, the possibilities are endless. Thanks to the advancement of tools and technology, the days of sending a generic email to a full subscriber list should be over. Studies have shown that personalization in emails can achieve six times the number of transactions as non-personalized emails. Even better, segmented, personalized emails will achieve, on average, 58 percent of your total revenue from email. The truth is, if you aren’t personalizing your emails, you’re falling behind.

Getting started

If personalizing emails sounds intimidating, you should know that it doesn’t have to be. You don’t need to jump from zero personalization to sending unique, individualized emails to everyone on your email list. Even adding something as simple as your customer’s first name to an email can lead to better engagement. In fact, a study by Campaign Monitor found that emails with the user’s first name in the subject line had 26 percent better open rates than those without.

Your company’s email service provider (ESP) likely has built-in functionality to allow the use of subscribers’ first names. And, if a user’s first name is not in your database yet, you can default to excluding the name altogether, or perhaps say something generic but cheerful like “Hi there!”

If you manage an online business that sells physical goods, you should already have the first names of all of your customers. If you manage a technology company, you likely have the first names of your users too. For those folks who haven’t become customers yet or haven’t entered their first name, update your signup forms to require a first name. Requesting this information is a common practice, and it will allow you to get started on personalization.

Methods for personalization

Beyond addressing a user by name, you can incorporate many other levels of personalization into your email marketing.

Abandoned cart

Whether you use Shopify, BigCommerce or an in-house solution to process users’ orders, you should always track your customers’ carts. Should they not complete a purchase, ensure your commerce software stores the data so you can send a follow-up email. This email will be one of the most profitable ones you’ll send, and its efficacy is largely due to the personalization. You’re reminding your customers of what they were considering buying by showing them exactly what they had in their cart and what it will cost. That level of precision often leads to conversions.

Product viewed

With proper tracking set up, you can capture your customers’ actions before they even add items to their carts or fill out forms. For example, if you’re using Klaviyo and Shopify, web tracking is an available out-of-the-box function that will show which pages a user visits. If they don’t add anything to their cart or start the checkout process, you can still send them a follow-up email, perhaps with an incentive, that shows them the products they viewed.

Recommended products

When a customer doesn’t start a cart, you can add material to your email to them with recommended products. Set rules in your database to find similar products and create recommendations for them. Many ESPs and customer data platforms (CDPs) also have this type of recommendation engine as an option too. Now, instead of just showing a user a product they’ve already seen, you can showcase similar products, which will likely increase your conversion rates.

Recommendations based on previous purchases

You may also use recommendations based on what a customer has purchased in the past. In this case, you would create a post-purchase automated email series that’s personalized to the customer, showing them what they purchased and offering add-ons to those products. For example, if you run an apparel store and a customer buys a t-shirt, you might suggest a pair of shorts as well as shoes to complete the outfit. Regardless of how you present it, though, a customer’s previous buying behavior is a top indicator of future purchases. Don’t neglect this extremely useful data!

Recommendations based on other attributes

The examples above are useful when users show intent, but if you’re not seeing activity out of a user, how do you target them personally? The simplest way is to go through the attributes you have regarding a given user and come up with ideas from there. Some examples of attributes you may have include country and state of residence or age. You might also create event-specific marketing. For instance, if you have a user base spread across many different countries, you could find an upcoming holiday in one of these areas and market accordingly.

Advanced personalization

Once you have conquered these basics, you should aim to personalize every email you send. Perhaps you can even automate many of your routine emails by setting up your data to show different content and products to each user. For example, if you send a weekly email featuring some of your top products that you choose manually, you’ll likely see a large benefit in automating this process. You could use recommendations based on users’ previous behavior, and many platforms have this functionality built in, such as Klaviyo.

Once you’re ready to explore advanced personalization, look at CDPs like Simon Data and Segment. By investing in these tools, you will create a central hub for your data that opens up the door for any of your marketing platforms to pull data on customers, allowing you to create events and provide recommendations to customers that go beyond an ESP’s capability. One example of this type of personalization is, if you find a customer is only ordering products less than $50, you can ensure all products you send them in emails are less than $50.

Get personal.

If personalization sounds like a daunting task, you don’t need to solve it all overnight. Start small by including the user’s first name or by segmenting based on interests. Once you find some success, you can continue to explore the attributes you store on your users to improve personalization and begin creating email automations. Gone are the days of “batch and blast” emails with no personalization; it’s time to send emails that your customers actually want to open.

This piece was originally published on Built In.

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