Email Personalization: Going Beyond the First Name

Jan 30, 2014 3:33 PM  By

emailEven as retailers rely more on technology for powerful results, when retail marketers hear the word “personalization” too many still think it means putting a first name on an email. While that old school tactic still works, there is so much more marketers can do to create engaging and winning campaigns that reach a customer on a personal level.

In the webinar, “Personalization:Thinking Beyond %%FirstName%%,” Jodi Wearn, segment marketing director at Silverpop, said marketers in 2014 need to truly understand what personalization really means and get past the idea that is simply is a first name, “because in reality, a personalized email program is so much more than that.”

A personalized message is about creating a dialogue, a conversation with your customer. “Conversation is a key component here” Wearn said, “this isn’t just about one template or one message but continuing that experience throughout the relationship and across the digital marketing spectrum.”

While many marketers might be getting a lot of quality results from using the first name approach on marketing materials, case study after case study has found that consumers buy more from retailers who personalize their messages and the shopping experience across all channels including email, mobile, social and web.

In fact, Wearn quoted  a recent MyBuys case study during the webinar that found that 40% of consumers buy more from retailers who personalize and 41% buy more from retailers sending personalized emails.

So what should marketers look at when it comes to email personalization? According to Wearn, the answer is everything and anything a customer has shared with you including through forms, opt ins, preferences and surveys, where they went on your site, what they clicked on in your email, etc.  What did they search, what did they buy?

When composing an email to a consumer, Wearn recommends the following:

  • Start with your subject line – you can use personalization to include their name – or take it deeper and include a special offer for them – Customers are much more prone to open then as they feel the deals are attainable for them.
  • Personalize your email based on their purchases, interaction and level of engagement.
  • Use webtracking to recognize changes in engagement and note it accordingly such as using “Welcome Back” or “We Miss You” messages.
  • The image of your email can be populated based on their interests or demographics. You can even use personalization to insert the closest stores at the bottom of your emails and drive offline traffic while servicing your customers.

While the above mentioned tactics are surefire ways to create an impactful personalized experience, Wearn warns that marketers shouldn’t try to accomplish everything at once. All she asks if that they get started, taking one step at a time.

As she pointed out in the webinar, not only will these email tactics get you greater buy in to continue to roll it out, but you will also get insight into performance to continue to optimize against and can continue to evolve your personalization tactics.

To learn more about personalizing across the complete digital marketing spectrum, check out the on-demand replay of the Personalization:Thinking Beyond %%FirstName%% webinar here.

Erin Lynch is the senior content producer at Multichannel Merchant. Erin can be reached (203) 899-8461 or connect with her socially on Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn.