“Batch and blast emails are a thing of the past.” “Personalisation is key to seeing great results from your email marketing.” You’ve heard it all before, but none of this advice tells you how you can actually personalise your email marketing in a way that amazes and delights your subscribers.
How do you actually take the need for personalisation and put it into action in a way that gets results without being—let’s be honest, here—creepy?
You need to be able to target your subscribers in a way that feels natural but also in a way that produces conversions. It’s easy to personalise your emails by adding subscribers’ names into subject lines, not to mention sending content based on segments and past purchase behaviour, but you’ll miss opportunities to wow your subscribers if that’s all you’re doing.
That kind of personalisation will keep you in line with your competition—but no one’s marketing goal is to keep up. You want to get ahead of your competitors and stay in the lead.
Strategies to personalise your email marketing
With the amount of data most companies collect, personalisation should go beyond addressing subscribers’ names and locations. Remember, today’s consumers are data-savvy. They know you’ve got it and they want you to use it to improve their experience with your brand.
Traditionally, if a company personalised their email marketing, that meant they’d included their subscriber’s name in the subject line. These days, personalisation applies to more than subject lines: It also involves tailoring each email so that it seems made for each individual on your list.
Personalisation applies to your email’s copy, content, images, and more. You want each of your subscribers to feel like every email was designed specifically for them.
Tactics to amaze subscribers with personalisation
1. Segment your list.
The best way to get started with personalisation—or ever to take your personalisation to the next level once you’ve mastered the basics—is to segment your list. As part of your strategy, segmenting based on age, location, and gender demographics might provide some information about your subscribers, but these identifiers don’t give you the whole picture.
You can’t assume you know what your subscribers want simply based on their age or their gender.
Next time you create a segment, consider more specific identifiers, such as: past purchase behaviour, average spend, promotions that convince them to convert, the links and content they consume, their interests, etc.
There’s no limit to the segments you can create. Tap into the power of artificial intelligence to find patterns you’ve missed.
2. Let subscribers tell you what they want.
Feeling overwhelmed at how you’re supposed to know what your subscribers want day after day? Don’t be. Truth be told, discovering your subscribers’ interests is far simpler than most people assume.
All you have to do is ask.
Create a preference center that allows your subscribers to tell you what they want, and you can rest assured you’re always sending the content they desire. An in-depth preference center is especially helpful if you offer multiple newsletters or lists. You can allow your subscribers to tell you what emails they want to receive as well as how often they wish to receive them.
A preference center is also a great place to build transparency into your marketing. You can clearly explain what messages they’re signed up to receive from you, how often they’ll get them, what’s in them, and how they got signed up in the first place. Here’s a great example from Campaign Monitor customer Digiday.
3. Know your pain points.
Have you seen people unsubscribe from your email list at a certain point? Have you seen customers struggle with the same questions or concerns over and over? Use personalisation to meet your subscribers where they are.
You can set up a journey that anticipates the struggles you see over and over again and get in front of it by providing resources, answers, and help the moment they need it most.
The best email marketing strategies are built around the value you can deliver to your subscribers and solving your subscribers’—or prospects’, or customers’—next hurdle before they discover the issue is the very definition of value. Again, all you have to do is ask. Here’s how we do it in our Campaign Monitor signup journey.
4. Think about your overall sales funnel.
Similarly, you can apply the same concept to your sales funnel. Usher more of your prospects to conversion by designing emails that address where each of your subscribers is in your sales process.
You’ll need a detailed understanding of your own sales funnel in order to do this, but you should have that anyway. In fact, you—or someone else on your team—should occasionally go through your own sales funnel in order to make sure everything operates the way it’s supposed to. This can help you see where you have weak spots and then address those in your email marketing.
To get started personalising based on a person’s progress along the sales funnel, consider where you see people fall off and why, where reviews can win over hesitant customers, or where your customer support policies can instill faith in your brand.
This might sound like a ton of work, but you’d be surprised at just how easy in-depth personalisation can be implemented. The trick is to automate as much of your email marketing as you can.
While automation might seem like the opposite of personalisation, automation allows you to scale your email marketing by creating emails designed specifically for subscribers without having to email them all individually.
Instead, you just have to create a customer journey that addresses different processes and solves different problems, then set them to send automatically when a subscriber triggers the campaign.
Customer journeys can be triggered by dates, milestones, behaviour, subscribing, and so much more. If you can dream it up, there’s a trigger to make it happen automatically. See how Campaign Monitor customer Glam Corner welcomes their prospective dress renters, promotes product features, and addresses the renters’ fears with answers to unasked questions.
After a Goodreads customer finishes a novel, they get recommendations to help them decide what to read next. They also get newsletters based on their favourite genres and updates from the authors they follow.
When we suggest you use past behaviour to make recommendations, this is what we mean. Don’t simply suggest more of the same. Similar products or services might not always be what your customers need.
Instead, focus on how past behaviour will inform future decisions the way Goodreads does. If a subscriber has finished a book, they don’t need the same book and maybe not even a book by the same author: After all, since they just read that author, it’s safe to assume they’re familiar. So instead, Goodreads suggests similar titles.
This newsletter keeps Goodreads users up to date on their favourite genres, encouraging them to click through to the website to read on the topics that interest them. This way, Goodreads keeps users in the know and provides them with the information they find most valuable.
This email from Sephora uses personalisation to anticipate when customers need to restock on their favourite items and sends them an email at just the right time.
This email makes buying a favourite product simple and easy. Clicking on the “Restock Now” CTA sends subscribers directly to the product, letting them make a purchase with only a few clicks. That’s the kind of next-level personalisation that wows your subscribers and earns their loyalty and respect.
If a person doesn’t want to buy online, the email also includes their nearest store and the amount of points they have. More compelling reasons to stop by and make a purchase!
This email from STIL gets delivered after a subscriber looks at a product and leaves the page without making a purchase.
The personalised content—featuring the product the subscriber already looked at—means you’re more likely to see an open and a click through to your site. After all, you already know the person is interested in the product.
In order to increase the odds of a purchase, STIL includes a discount code and emphasises the need for urgency on the consumer’s part.
The neat gif is another great touch: it mirrors the company’s branding and catches the reader’s attention. The arrows are a relatable, familiar touch that makes it easy to spot the products in a quickly moving gif.
4. Warby Parker
Every product-based brand should send transactional emails, letting customers know when a purchase has been shipped or a review posted. But if you aren’t going above and beyond in your transactional emails, you’re missing a great opportunity. After all, transactional emails have a much higher open rate than other types of emails
This email from Warby Parker lets their customer know when their Home Try-On box has arrived, but it also clearly defines what’s next and provides an opportunity for eager customers to go ahead and add their favourite glasses to their cart.
Similarly, customers receive this email when they return their Home Try-On box. This email lets customers know everything has gone according to plan and gives them peace of mind. This above-and-beyond transparency builds trust with consumers and lays the foundation for a lifelong relationship (and it’s one of the many reasons Warby Parker has a loyal following of brand advocates).
Plus, Warby Parker has gone one step further and provided a playlist for listeners to check out. Even though this playlist doesn’t immediately lead to conversions, customers get to delve deeper into Warby Parker’s brand, and the playlist keeps the company top of mind.
The trick with personalisation is to consider the overall experience your most dedicated fans have with your brand and then anticipate what comes next. When we say “overall experience,” what we mean is this: Don’t confine yourself or your email marketing to thinking only about sales. Your customers are more than just their wallets, and when you treat your prospects and customers like humans, you’ll create not just customers but lifelong brand advocates.
Your email marketing will win you brand advocates, and anticipating their needs will keep them coming back for more.
This post is a part of Campaign Monitor’s Marketing & Mixology series. Check out these other pieces in the series: