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A professionals guide to personalised emails

A professionals guide to personalised emails

As a professional marketer you have already honed your skills, so this professionals guide to personalised emails is devised both to add polish, serve as a refresher and offer an insight into the latest technology applications.

Email inboxes are crowded and full of distractions. Personalised emails provide a way to cut through the clutter and show subscribers that you have something to say that matters to them. According to a survey published by Forbes,  nearly 60% of the most successful email marketers think personalisation is one of the best ways to increase engagement. Unfortunately it doesn’t distinguish what each considers to be personalisation.

Of course, that also means there are many other brands using email personalisation to stand out. We are not going to waste your time or trivialise the subject by discussing first names in the subject lines, it’s both trite and passé.

See article successful email personalisation is a simple step.

What is email personalisation?

Email personalisation what is it and how to do it. On one level it is a digital marketing tactic that typically involves the use of subscriber data to create a custom experience for different individuals. Personalised emails give marketers the ability to target specific subscribers with special offers, relevant content, and important information.

When done well, personalised emails feel as if the message was written and designed just for the subscriber. And in some cases it actually was! But automation, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) often play a role in creating that unique message.

The goal of email personalisation is to create a more personal email experience. The inbox is a private, personal place. When your brand’s emails arrive, you want people to feel like they’re hearing from a trusted friend. Because the last thing anyone needs is another advertisement.

A strong email personalisation strategy will have people anticipating your emails, and it can certainly make emails more relevant. However, keep in mind that using personalisation doesn’t necessarily make emails feel personal – especially in a world full of savvy consumers. Don’t test their patience or try and be clever or sneaky.

Stats on personalised marketing

If you’re just venturing into the possibilities of personalised emails, there’s no better time to start than now. Recent studies show marketing personalisation has gone mainstream.

In fact, according to research from McKinsey & Company71% of consumers say they expect personalised marketing and 76% get frustrated when it’s not there.

Email is the most popular and perhaps the most powerful place to implement personalisation. Statista reports that 78% of marketers are using email for personalised communication. That far outpaces the next most popular channel, your website, which 56% of marketers are personalising. Only around one-third are personalising experiences in paid ads, social media, and mobile applications.

McKinsey and Company also found that brands using personalisation generate 40% more revenue than those that don’t. 

Subscribers want it and expect it. It helps boost email engagement. And, it delivers such a significant increase in sales, its omission is now the most heinous crime against marketing. You have to appreciate the power of email personalisation.

The hierarchy of email personalisation

As you’ve probably noticed in your own inbox, not all email personalisation is created equal. Let’s take a look at how to get started and where you can go with personalised emails.

As the first level of personalisation involves strategically inserting a contact property, often your subscriber’s name, into the email – usually in the subject line or the initial greeting. We’re going to skip over it, as this article is for professional marketers.

Segmentation and personalisation

The next level of email personalisation groups your contacts into segments so that you can tailor the experience to different types of subscribers. We personally abhor segmentation, for what it is. While we understand the necessity for promotional an incentive groups, the idea of not making each and every communication to treat each one as your favourite customer, truly grates with us. Segmentation is not personalisation.

If you’re still batch-and-blasting the same campaigns to your entire email list, you’re going to love the results you get from the combination of segmentation and personalisation. Technically, segmentation and personalisation are two separate practices. But segmentation can feeds directly into your email personalisation strategy.

With list segmentation and personalisation combined, you go beyond simply adjusting email copy and make the entire experience more personal. That’s because instead of only sticking a name in the right spot, the content of the targeted email is more likely to matter to the subscriber. People still like seeing their name, it’s the child in us all, and is the cherry on top.

Adding basic email personalisations to an email that’s designed for a specific segment creates a pretty powerful email experience. However, there are many ways to do even more with personalised emails. As we are about to offer, segmentation is about to move drastically down your priority ranking.

Advanced email personalisation

The masters of email marketing personalisation are able to deliver email campaigns that feel like they were made precisely for the individual. When people open these emails they should think, “These people understand exactly what I want!”

The key to creating this kind of personalised inbox experience is access to the right data and the ability to integrate it with email.

In some cases, subscribers may be generating that data as they browse your website or use your application. Some of the best, personalised email experiences come from brands that take user data and visualise it in emails.

The highest echelon: reserved for predictive personalisation

Marketers using predictive personalisation software (PPS) track both website and application activity perpetually. It is an autonomous personalisation system, that requires zero human input whatsoever, and it makes returns 20x greater in comparison to any of the the examples above and omnichannel marketing combined. It removes not only the cost of human involvement, but their errors and omissions too.

Essential reading on the cost of your employees: How much do your staff truly cost?

Dynamic content becomes an integral element in all predictive personalised emails, which smashes ROI. Using dynamic content with personalised emails packs a powerful punch. For those researching PPS it is essential you choose autonomous software with zero human interaction involvement to achieve the greatest returns or you could spend time and money, wasted on an inferior solution.

Context should be always and perpetually relevant to the email recipient. Context is the future of email personalisation. Dynamic content has the ability to change or update with every action made by the consumer interacting with both your site and your emails. That should include the item (SKU code as we are talking personalisation to that degree os sophistication), colour, style, fabric, size, cut, price but also time of day viewed, then purchased, those actions compared and in relation to previous purchases and the pattern made to deliver this purchase to you.

Multiple surveys say that using dynamic email content achieves the highest ROI – including Forrester, McKinsey, Bain and Statista. Advanced email marketers using PPS know it will be presenting the exact image of each product with the highest buying propensity for that individual and unique customer, at precisely the right moment.

SwiftERM is a Microsoft Partner company. For a free trial of PPS for your website follow the link.

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