Using personalisation in email marketing to go beyond ‘Hi First Name’’

If you’re like me you probably receive a lot of emails, however being an email marketer I sign up to every email marketing communication going. When opening my Outlook on a morning I usually hit the delete button on most of my emails unless the subject line is really enticing and jumps out at me.

Two years ago, the volume of emails sent was around 247 billion worldwide each day and it has been predicted that this will double by 2013 to 507 billion messages sent every day. So the question is, how do you combat the competition and really stand out in people’s inboxes? Well, there are many different strategies you can use to approach this and one of these is the power of personalisation. When done well it can achieve high engagement from the recipient, delivering a relevant and personalised marketing message in a way that isn’t achievable in any other medium.

What is personalisation and why should you use it?

Having a good personalised email programme can increase interaction with your customers, create better cross-selling opportunities and ultimately increase sales! However, it is more than just using ‘Hi Firstname’. It needs to reflect information that is specific to the recipient, such as their gender, age or purchase history.You need to make it clear to the customer that you actually care about them and their interests.

The knowledge and requirements to make your email marketing programme more profitable and stand out from the rest is already in your grasp. And best of all, it’scost effective! Using your customer data to achieve a more targeted and effective campaign is easy. It only takes a matter of minutes to turn a standard email into a highly targeted marketing email, which could result in achieving a higher response rate and a higher ROI.

How to make your emails more personalised?

Personalisation in subject headers-using your all important subject headers is essential if you’re going to get your customers to open your email.You can use all the personalisation techniques mentioned so far and include these in your subject headers:

* Keep them short and to the point, make sure the personalisation will actually be seen (maximum recommended word length is 11 words) KATIE, 5 ways to get set for summer!

* Personalisation can be used in different ways, using upper case lettering is great at capturing attention, e.g. KATIE, we’ve got some great offers in store for you

* Targeting your live customers separate from other customers can create a massive uplift in open rate, so use the information you have to your advantage! For example, KATIE, your Car Insurance is due on (xx/xx/xx)

* Target your lapsed customers and try and get them to buy again, e.g. we miss you, come back to us

* Use knowledge of a previously bought product. Even if they don’t have this product anymore it might entice them to open your email and repurchase, e.g. KATIE, do you still have a Ford Fiesta? We can get you a great deal

* Including a brand name is essential. It allows the customer to know exactly who the email is from and if they recognise the name they are more likely to open it. This is especially important with the increasing number of spam emails, i.e. Check out Freemans great Summer deals Katie.

 ‘Hi firstname’ is not personalisation:

A few years ago, using just ‘firstname’ in emails was an effective way to get a reaction from the recipient. However, recipients are more familiar now with such techniques and therefore are less susceptible to them. This has forced advertisers to use their data more cleverly. Personalisation techniques have progressed and a variation of firstname, surname, age, gender, address and purchase history can all be considered when creating a subject line.

Assumption based targeting:

Not only can you personalise your email based on facts using customer data, you can also make assumptions based on customer base. For example, if you’re targeting your customers based on age groups, you could assume that everyone aged 30-40 is married and either owns or is thinking about buying a house.You can also make assumptions using creative images as well e.g. if you’re mailing male customers aged 40-50, try and get this across in your images and anything that is personal to them.

Collecting personal customer data:

The data you gather initially through your customer is just a starting point. It can be enough for the first few emails, however, after that it will become tedious and irrelevant. It is essential to keep your email marketing programme fresh and interesting for the customer so make sure you keep your customer details up to date. However, if this isn’t an option, separate your data in different data pots and mail them separately. This will ensure you are still speaking to your key customers in the most targeted way possible.

You can also look into other options for personalisation by monitoring opening or click behaviour, e.g. in our last email communication you showed an interest in car insurance, here are all the benefits to taking out a car insurance policy with us.

Cross selling products: Your best open rates and click through rates probably come from targeting your live customers; they are the people who are most likely to respond to any marketing communication. This, therefore, creates a great cross-sell opportunity for your company by targeting them with products they may need, e.g.we know you already have car insurance with us, why not check out our offers on home and travel insurance? If a customer has bought from you previously, they are more likely to purchase from you again.

Personalisation in emails

I hope I’ve demonstrated how using personalisation can be a great benefit to your email marketing campaign and that by going beyond ‘hi firstname’, you can increase your open and click through rates. By being organised with your campaigns and planning ahead, using personalisation can be simple, effective and, best of all, it will help you to stand out from your competitors!