Why Does Personalization Matter for Email?

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The term “Personalization” has become more common in the marketing world over the last few years‚ even to the point of seeming like just another trend. But what does Personalization really mean, and how much of a difference does it even make in your marketing?

Ask yourself: how many emails did you get this week from the various mailing lists you’ve opted into over the years? How many direct mail pieces are sitting on your kitchen table right now? Of all that content, how much of it stood out to you? How many felt like real messages composed by someone who knows and cares about you?

I’m going to guess almost none.

The truth is that people have gone numb to traditional marketing, and that includes form letters and emails. When you get a letter that says “Dear Ma’am/Sir/Resident”, each sentence after that is an uphill battle for the sender to persuade you to read it the whole way through. For emails, it’s even harder. Most marketing emails are never opened because, frankly, it is very transparent to the recipient what they are from the moment they see the subject line.

Even inbound marketers and businesses using the Inbound Methodology are not immune to this. You might able hook some leads by offering good content, but over time, you could still lose them if their inbox is being flooded with generic messages that do not connect with them.

How do you get through to an audience that has become jaded? How do you cut through the noise and connect with your target in a way that is genuine, not fake and mass-produced?

Personalization is the Answer

Personalization is the process of customizing your communications with customers, leads, prospects and visitors to the maximum extent possible— to make your marketing seem tailored to them specifically. When the recipient reads that message, sees those recommended links, or notices a list of products recommended to them, it is that kind of personalized touch that makes them feel like that message really was written just for them, with all their wants, needs, desires, and problems in mind.

Think about the last time you went to a brick and motor business, and one of the staff really took the time to get to know you. To understand what your pain points were, and go out of their way to help you find the solution that was right for you. The purpose of Personalization in digital marketing is to replicate that type of one-on-one, person-to-person engagement as best you can without being there in real life.

But is it possible to replicate that experience in a digitally-connected world where you not there in person, and you’re communicating with so many people at once? Sure it is.

The Key to Connecting‚ and Converting‚ with Email

One of the simplest ways to personalize content is one that you’re probably already familiar with: using your reader’s name: when you get an email or a piece of mail with your name on it, it grabs your attention way more than a generic, copy-&-pasted message or form letter.

And this isn’t just feel-good talking points: the math shows that personalization makes a real difference. A survey of over 500 brand marketers found that personalizing their email content led to a 244% increase in click-through-rates, and a whopping 412% increase in revenue per opened email.

Your email lists are the quickest way to begin experimenting with Personalization in your marketing. When subscribers opt in, you should be collecting as much data about them as you can, while still making it easy and frictionless for them to do so.

Getting the name is mandatory. Every email and offer you send to them should be Personalized to begin with their name, and incorporate it into the body copy where appropriate. Beyond that, asking for information like location, gender, age, job title and the industry they work in can be immensely useful for personalizing content.

You can also extrapolate a lot of good information (including some of the above) by tracking which pages your visitors read, and which lists they’re opting into. For example, say you’re managing the marketing for an engineering firm. If a visitor to that firm’s website provides their name and email in order to download a white paper about systems engineering design, you can be reasonably assured that this subscriber works in an engineering-related field. It would also be logical to conclude that this subscriber will be interested in other systems engineering-related content as well, and you can suggest this content to them in subsequent communications. If you know what specific industry they work in, you can send them links to news articles about cool/important developments in their field. This shows that you “get” them, and helps them stay on top of what’s happening in their profession.

This is especially powerful when combined with a well-defined Buyer Persona. If you’ve already gone through the process of putting together a detailed persona and deeply understand your persona’s wants, needs and pain points, you’ll be able to use that data to create content that connects with him or her.  You can then use the data gathered from your interactions with them to personalize their experience with you even further, recommending specific content, products, and solutions just for them. This information can then be used to produce predictive analytics that can help you serve not just that customer’s needs, but all your customers’ needs even better. This is what allows you to engage in data-driven planning and decision-making without losing that human touch to your marketing.

Personalization is, in many ways, the future of not only Inbound, but of marketing as a whole. Just adding your subscriber’s name to your next email is the simplest and fastest way to see this in action. In a world awash with too much marketing noise, Personalization is literally revamping the whole Buyer’s Journey process, and marketers and companies who ignore these trends are going to get left behind.

Want to learn more about what personalized marketing can do for your business? Check out our Personalization page and see how we use this approach to help you build stronger and more profitable connection with customers.

Did you find this article helpful? Then you’re going to love our free guide How to Engage Anonymous Online Visitors Through Personalization. This book will show you how to Personalize your visitor’s experience, and increase your conversion rates through the power of Contextual Marketing.

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