How you can personalise your email marketing and boost results

Hello there!
Hello stranger!

Do you think I’m talking to you? Yes? No? Maybe? It would be a lot clearer if I would address my email to a specific individual, don’t you think? Let’s talk about email personalisation.

For starters, email personalisation goes way further than simply inserting someone’s name into your communication. The (dynamic) content, the tone of voice, the choice of images, the call to action… All these email components can contribute to a more personal approach to your customer. The more we personalise the customer experience, the more relevant our messages will be, and the more involved our customers will be with our brand. This, in turn, will result in more brand love. Isn’t that our main goal: make customers love us?

Different studies show that email personalisation has a huge -positive- impact on both open and click-through rates of your campaigns, which ultimately leads to a greater ROI. Okay, great! But how exactly can we capture our reader? It all starts with knowing who your reader is.

Hello reader! – Data is key for email personalisation

You cannot start with (email) personalisation if you have no clue who your subscribers are. So first of all, you need to make sure that you collect the right information. The easiest way to do so is through forms on your website.

Providing specific content in exchange for personal data is what we like to call ‘gated content’. Gated content takes on many forms such as whitepapers, webinars, videos, email series/courses, demos or any sort of webtool (just like our very own ROI-calculator). Other examples can also be found under ‘resources’ on the RAAK-website. An important rule to keep in mind is that the amount of information you ask for a specific content offer is proportional to the value of the offered content.

With the help of progressive profiling, we are able to discover more information from our users every time they convert on one of our web forms. When a user fills out a form on our website for the first time, he will be asked to provide us with basic information, like his name, address, day of birth… The next time this user converts, our tracking system allows us to automatically submit him a form with different fields. This allows us to expand a user’s data profile over time, so you don’t have to kill your conversion rate by asking for all of this data at once.

In times where people are more and more invested in their privacy, you don’t want to be asking too many questions. Therefore, it is necessary to think about how you want to segment your database and exactly which information you’ll need to implement this segmentation. This is a very important process you should go through to while you create an inbound marketing strategy.

TIP: try to segment your database based on the buyer personas you’ve created for your business.

Try to limit the amount of information you ask for and be clear on how and for what purposes the collected data will be used. Try to give contacts in your database control over their own data by implementing a user-friendly preference center as well. By giving your subscriber the possibility to choose the subject and frequency on which he receives newsletters, he has a secure sense of control of his inbox.

After giving enough thought to our data strategy, we can start segmenting our database. Every decent marketing CRM tool allows you to subdivide your database by setting specific sets of rules. Often these rules can be based on either explicit data, implicit data or a combination of both. These segments are often referred to as ‘smart lists’ and they can all be addressed individually. This allows us to further personalise our communication and helps us get the right content to the right user. We will address groups of contacts that share (a) common aspect(s), rather than communicate one on one with a subscriber. But don’t worry, we have to walk before we can run.

Hello [enter firstname] ! – 3 levels of email personalisation

1. Inserting variables / personalisation tags

Of course, the most accessible method of personalisation lies in the insertion of someone’s name or company name in the subject line or salutation (or elsewhere in the email). This is also an effective way to capture someone’s attention. Don’t you look up when someone calls your name? But personalisation can obviously go much further than this.

2. Smart / dynamic content

Take it one step further and start personalising the content of your email. Because in the end, content is king. If you really want to score with personalised email campaigns, it is necessary to know which content raises the interest of your reader. Whether it is a promotional email, a monthly newsletter or a contest newsletter, it is always important to find the right, personal approach for your reader. Your communication's content and form has to be substantively adjusted to your reader in order to create a contextual email experience.

Dynamic or smart content allows you to show different versions of your email to different users or database segments. As mentioned before, you can define these rules yourself. Meaning you might want to show product or article X to contacts that meet your conditions and show product or article Y to contacts that don’t.

By taking a customer’s purchase, browsing or search history into account, you can boost engagement by showing tailored product/content recommendations. Try to make your calls to action conditional so you make sure you always guide users further down the conversion path.

3. Triggered emails

Individualising your emails obviously shouldn’t have to be a manual action. Various inbound platforms contain tools to set up automation flows. They allow you to collect and structure data (through website tracking) and implement behavioural segmentation, to finally convert this segmentation into triggers for personal emails.

Depending on where our subscriber is located in the buyer's journey, we can send out emails as a real-time reaction to his online behaviour. If someone creates an account on our website, we can automatically send him a welcome email. Or if someone put something in his shopping cart, but doesn’t end up buying it, we can subtly remind him. Other common examples are the birthday email, a re-engagement email, a reward email based on a loyalty program… These behavioural triggered emails respond to the actions of our subscriber, which make them highly personal. But it doesn’t stop there. It’s important not to send yet another standard email, but to top up the emails by adding a creative, personal touch.

Hello Spotify, PS4, Airbnb and Adidas.

Let's list up some examples of companies that know how to perfectly charm their customers with customised communication.

Spotify Newsletter ExampleSpotify not only presents a customised overview of your preferences when you log into your account, but their email communication takes personalisation to the next level. Just like you can see on their home/welcome screen, your mailbox gets filled with recommendations of artists and songs you might like. But they go even further. You are also informed of concerts of these recommended artists that take place near the region where you live. How cool is that? And at the end of the year, you get your personal overview of the music you listened to, including some nice to know stats.

We notice something similar with PS4's email marketing strategy. At the end of the year, the players get a statistic recap of their games. They can see how long they played, how many times they won, how many trophies they earned… As a reward, they also get a code to claim different PS4 themes. This code is a button, containing the name of the player. An example of how personalised CTAs work their magic.

Source: reallygoodemails.com

The third company we want to discuss is Airbnb. They segment their database in -at least- two segments: hosts and travellers. That way, they can guide a host through the whole process of accommodating someone, and inspire travellers. They send out general travel information, but if you’ve booked a stay, you also get an extensive email with tips and tricks in the neighbourhood. They even provide a complete day by day itinerary, including events that take place on the exact moment you’re in town.

Another explicit example of personalisation is Adidas. In an email for cyber Monday, they literally said: “Make it personal. This year, give gifting extra thought. Create customized shoes by November 27 to receive them in time. Enter (code) at checkout to get 30% off miadidas.” In this short copy, they stress the personal, customised feeling you can get with miadidas. It’s a completely different strategy to underline the personal aspect. But, admit it, you immediately want to design your own, personal shoe, don't you?


Source: reallygoodemails.com


Customers want to feel valued and connected to your brand. The ideal way to make this happen is through email personalisation. There are several ways to add personalisation to your email campaigns, going from inserting the subscribers name in your email to implementing dynamic content. With the right automation tool, every marketer can start personalising his email campaigns. Just remember to start small, see what data you already have available and go from there.


Do the Email Marketing ROI-scan

Posted on
Apr 18, 2019