Think carefully about how you’re going to gather the right data, segment your database and create meaningful campaigns.
Sending personalised emails can be really effective, but if you get it wrong it can be an ‘epic fail’. Here are the pros and cons of email personalisation.
Whatever the platform, using personalisation (inserting personal data relevant to the recipient) can really help you to stand out. This personal data may include their name, surname, recent purchase, event you met at and other data you have collected, in line with GDPR. Personalisation helps you to serve the most relevant content to the recipient. Even if you’re sending to a small list the conversion rate goes up significantly.
I’ve received some excellent personalised campaigns myself, such as a collaboration between Crufts and the Kennel Club, which used my dog’s breed and kennel name and really got my attention.
Although I don’t go to dog shows, this one could have been an exception, because the campaign was so good and they’d used three or four fields to personalise the message to me.
However, when personalisation goes wrong, it can be really bad. I once received an email from O2 addressed to Sarah (despite the fact that they have my email) who has a completely different phone tariff to mine. At the time, I’d been a customer for over 20 years.
I’m not with O2 any more…
How and when should you personalise
You need to have their first name and make sure it’s been spelt correctly. Keystroke error is the bane of every marketer’s life, but it’s often the customer who made a typo or inadvertently typed in caps. You will need to use a merge tag embedded in the campaign, and can use any type of information. It’s usually the recipient’s name and appears at the beginning of the message, but it can be more sophisticated if you use it two thirds of the way through, where someone’s mind is wandering and you want to get them back on track.
Timing is always an important consideration and something you need to experiment with, although it’s usually best to avoid Fridays, particularly in B2B industries. How much the recipient likes you and how interested they are in what you have to share will be a big factor in how likely they are to read your messages.
Experimentation is useful too, and can include trying out different images and design. There’s a move away from HTML (heavily-designed emails) in email marketing at the moment, towards plain text campaigns. These are often easier to read as they’re less cluttered, more on-message and have a phenomenal conversion rate. You don’t need to invest in specialist email marketing software, as you can achieve good results with Outlook or Mail.
Recency refers how recently someone has joined your list. When a subscriber is new (to you), they are at their most interested (in you) and what you have to offer. You need to hit them with your best offers, tips & guides, email series to welcome them and strong calls to action.
A well-structured campaign uses a variety of links to the same link destination throughout the body of the text.
Don’t forget: You need permission to contact people, be upfront about who you are and provide a physical address that they can come back to or an email address so they can unsubscribe if they want.
Frequency: how often you should send emails? I believe that in the beginning of a relationship you can send them almost daily. Many businesses use an “on-boarding process” that they take subscribers through, which acts as an introduction to the company, who you are and what you do. Alternatively, the email series could be around a theme, such as a mini-course.
Quantity: think about how much you have to share. If you have a lot of quality information, content that is relevant to them or helps them be better at what they want to do, email regularly. But don’t bombard people with massive emails that will take them a long time to read.
Software: if you’ve built your list but are struggling to get started, it’s worth signing up to free email marketing software. I always recommend MailChimp, because it’s user-friendly and easy to get started, but is an increasingly sophisticated platform that can grow with you.
Build your list with care – these are your potential customers. You would choose them carefully in person, so adopt the same mindset when it comes to your list. The more relevant and targeted you are, the more likely people are to stay on your list, open your emails and buy from you.
Almost 80% of email marketers use it for retention.
Get permission to contact people and always segment – don’t try a one-size-fits-all approach. Be alert in your quest for customer data and take any opportunity to collect it, and then gather as much detail as you can about what they’re interested in and note what they do with each campaign you send.
In the next article, we’ll explore more ways of getting your email marketing RITE.