According to research from the DMA, list segmentation and personalization were the most effective email marketing strategies of 2017 and continue to be essential to optimizing email marketing results in 2018. If you’re not personalizing your email marketing messages, then you’re missing opportunities to connect with your message recipients in a way that has been proven to boost open rates, clicks, and sales.
Start by identifying the demographic and behavioral data available to you for each contact on your email marketing list. Next, determine what additional data you could use for targeting and segmentation that you’re not already gathering. If you’re able to collect that data, set up a process to do so using your email marketing tool as soon as possible.
Of course, the extent of the personalization you can do in your messages depends on the email marketing platform you’re using to create and send those messages. Not all email marketing platforms offer the same level of segmentation capabilities, so be sure you’re using a tool that makes it easy for you to target niche groups of people if you really want to move the needle and increase results through personalization.
To help you use personalization effectively, following are 10 personalization strategies that have been successful in improving results for email marketers in a wide variety of industries.
You can segment your email subscriber list based on demographic criteria such as age, gender, and other identifiable traits. If you ask people to provide all of this information to you at the same time and early in your relationship with them, they’re unlikely to give it to you. Instead, use surveys and forms to capture this data, and over time, each contact’s profile will become more robust.
Here are five demographic traits to start tracking and using for targeting and personalization:
When you append your contacts’ ages to their profiles in your email marketing platform, you can segment your mailing list to include only people in the age ranges that are most likely to purchase your product.
For example, if you own a health food store and you’re offering a discount on vitamins for people age 50 and older, you can send a message that is not just personalized with the recipient’s name but also includes copy related to their age that references the age-specific offer. If you sent this message to everyone on your list, the open, click-through, and conversion results would be much lower than they will be if you send the message only to people age 50 or older. Furthermore, many subscribers might unsubscribe from your list if they receive an irrelevant offer targeted to people in a different age range than they’re in.
You can get a big boost in results when you segment your email marketing messages by gender and personalize them accordingly. Why send a generic offer for a clothing store when you can send men an offer personalized to them and women an offer that targets their interests and needs?
3. Parental Status
Parental status refers to whether or not the recipients have children. With this information, you can segment your list and personalize your messages to appeal to the right people. Going back to the health food store example in #1, the store could improve its results for a sale on baby products by writing copy, choosing images, and creating an offer that is designed specifically for parents.
4. Marital Status
Like the other demographic criteria mentioned in this article, segmenting and personalizing based on marital status allows you to send highly targeted offers to the right people – those who are most likely to respond, take action, and buy. For example, a cruise line shouldn’t send married contacts an offer for a singles cruise just as it shouldn’t send single contacts an offer for a family cruise. To maximize results, the cruise line’s list should be segmented and offers should be personalized.
Using location criteria, you can send email marketing messages based on where your contacts live. Send a message that ties your business into local events or offers local specials. You can save time and money by taking personalization a step further and leveraging the power of dynamic content to increase your results for this type of email even higher.
Behavioral personalization is based on actions that people take by interacting with your email messages, website, and content. For example, you can target people based on the pages they visit on your website or the email messages you’ve sent to them that they opened. Make sure your email marketing platform automatically collects and tracks some of this data for you (once you configure it to do so) and that there is a way to save the data within each contact’s profile on your list.
Here are five behavioral personalization traits that work extremely well in segmented email marketing campaigns:
1. Visited a Specific Product Page on Your Website
You can set up automatic email messages to go out as soon as one of your contacts visits a specific page on your website. If you’re trying to sell a specific item, track everyone who visits that page, and send them a message with a discount on the product or service discussed on that page. Since you already know the recipient is interested in that product or service, this is a highly effective personalization technique.
2. Opened an Email from You or Clicked on a Link in an Email Message from You
If someone opens an email message from you based on the subject line or clicks on a link within the message, then you can assume the person is interested in the information that the link promised to them. If you use an email marketing platform that allows you to append tags to contact records when specific actions take place, add a tag to a record when that person opens an email or clicks on a link. That way, it’s easy to find everyone who was interested in that topic to send future messages. Your results should improve using this strategy.
3. Made a Prior Purchase
If someone purchased a product in the past, it’s likely they might purchase it again in the future. Why not motivate them to purchase sooner by sending a personalized message? You can set this up in your email marketing tool. For example, if someone purchases a specific product, you can automatically send a personalized follow-up message in the future (e.g., one week later, one month later) telling them it’s time to stock up on that item again. You could even follow up with related product recommendations.
4. Downloaded an Ebook, Worksheet, Etc.
When someone takes the time to give you their email address in exchange for a free ebook, worksheet, or other resource, you can bet they’re highly interested in the topic of the ebook, worksheet, or other resource. Therefore, you should use that information for targeting and segmentation in the future. Create a personalized email message that provides additional information related to the topic or upsell one of your related products or services within the message. You’d be amazed by how responsive people are to these messages.
5. Has Not Made a Purchase
Don’t just segment and personalize your email marketing messages based on behaviors people have displayed. You can also segment and personalize based on behaviors people haven’t displayed. For example, you can personalize messages to people who:
- Did not make a purchase in the past month
- Have never made a purchase from you
- Have not visited a specific page on your website
- Did not open a specific email message
- Are not following your brand on social media
- And more
Keep in mind, your email marketing platform must offer the ability to track by activity and inactivity for this strategy to work.
Your Next Steps
Personalization and segmentation are very effective in improving email marketing results. The data proves it, so use the five personalization strategies introduced in this message to shift your focus from mass marketing to one-to-one marketing.
Once you start using personalization and segmentation, it’s a good idea to use an email marketing proofing, review, and approval tool like Campaign Workhub to keep all reviewers on the same page, save time, reduce frustration, limit errors, and meet deadlines. You can schedule a free demo or start a 21-day free trial at any time.