Personalize Your Messages Without Stalking Your Customer

Feb 11, 2016 10:20 AM  By

As you well know, batch-and-blast is on its way out as an ecommerce strategy. Emails jamming up a shopper’s in-box are often ignored. One of the best ways to grab a shopper’s attention is by using segmentation to personalize messages that make each visitor feel as though their web experience was designed just for them.

According to the EmailStatCenter.com, 50% of CMOs say they’ll soon implement personalization strategies. That means using data gathered from store and web purchases, as well as address information, to offer messages that engage potential shoppers that are relevant and timely, without crossing the line into downright “creepy.”

The UK-based Oak Furniture Land used emails to showcase furniture similar to what customers bought in the store and postal codes to personalize email by showing the nearest store location. Before long, the home of solid real wood furniture saw a 40% boost in year-over-year email generated revenue.

From introducing new customers to your brand through a welcome series to providing emails that assist (like refill reminders), here are some ideas to put at the top of your personalization to-do list.

Invite Them Into the Brand From Day One– Engage the subscriber so they’ll interact with your company quickly. Thank them for signing up. Steer them to a Preference Center to find out how often they want to hear from you and what types of emails they’d like to receive. Encourage them to buy with a coupon or other incentive. Global sports fashion brand Björn Borg saw a 232% higher click rate, 21% increase in conversion and a sizzling 217% increase in revenue in the first six months on the Welcome Series, compared to when it used non-segmented messages.  “So we know it is working,’’ says Noelia Guinón, ecommerce manager for Björn Borg.

Focus on Responsive Design for Mobile– Most folks shop using mobile devices, so make sure your mobile design works, is easy to view and glitch-free. Our 2015 survey of 1,012 US consumers found that 23% of online shoppers ages 18-29 prefer shopping on a smartphone. And unless you’re selling something people buy daily or weekly, don’t bother with the expense of developing an app. Turns out 66 percent of the group prefers using mobile browsers vs. 24% who prefer apps. Probably because they realize that there are only so many apps we can squeeze on our phones and pads. Look for design templates with responsive code that dynamically adapts the layout and style of your message to a smaller screen.

Don’t Overreach – Getting personal is great, but avoid trying to do too much. Segment too much and you could overwhelm your creative team’s ability to push out unique messages. Start with proven methods like a welcome series or a Preference Center to get a handle on how often customers want to hear from you.

Be Helpful, Not Creepy– Remember: There’s a fine line between targeted messages and being “creepy.” No one wants “Welcome Back, Bob from Baltimore!” message. Family-owned Ann Arbor, Mich.-based SHAR music engages shoppers in a non-creepy way with their refill program, which sends messages such as “It’s recommended that you replace your Thomastik-Infeld Dominant Strings with Steel E every 6 months…. Want the same strings? Simply log-in and reorder!” Best of all, reorder and refill reminders can have conversion rates 500%+ higher than standard messages.

Pay Attention to Deliverability – All the segmenting and personalization won’t matter if your if your emails don’t get through. Don’t make list growth your primary metric, especially if your lists are stale or have a lot of names you bought (a deliverability no-no in our experience). After all, outdated lists often have abandoned emails that could be spam traps.

Doing some of these things? Feeling overwhelmed? You’re not alone. Plenty of big brands have struggled to get ecommerce right. Guinón of Björn Borg said the company’s ecommerce channel had been “rapidly declining” in terms of growth and revenue but that personalization and strong deliverability were key to turning things around.

Our research suggests welcome messages to new subscribers convert at 5X the rate of average marketing messages. Remailing to shoppers who didn’t initially open or click results in an average 50% revenue increase. And that worked for Björn Borg. Personalized messages increased revenue generated from email by 66% in the first six months.

Even if you can’t implement all of these ideas right away, you can take steps in that direction. And before long, you’ll be well on your way to better understanding your audience and tailoring their online journeys by creating content that make visitors feel welcome (in a non-Big Brother way) and ultimately adds value for everyone.

Susan Wall is Vice President of Marketing for Bronto Software.