It’s awesome when you step off a plane at 7am and get offers from your favorite coffee shop along with the locations closest to the airport.
It’s not so great when you just bought a new couch and then spend the next two weeks deleting promotional emails from the furniture store featuring the couch you just bought.
When done poorly, email automation can seem phony, canned, and intrusive. But when combined with personalization, they produce email marketing that is highly relevant and engaging.
Personalized email automations are a crucial part creating long term brand evangelists, and they’re actually within reach for most marketers.
Here are the most important things you need to understand about personalizing your email automations so you can reach the right people with the right email at the right moment.
The Benefits of Personalized Email
Email inboxes are crowded, noisy places. Competition for opens and clicks is fierce, and personalization offers a distinct advantage for those able to leverage it.
According to research by Experian, personalized email gets a 25% higher open rate and a 51% higher click through rate than standard email.
Even more amazing, when promotional emails were delivered using personalized information they boosted transaction rates and revenue per email six times! This massive lift no doubt comes from shifting consumer expectations about how email marketing should speak to them.
Janrain reports that 73% of consumers subscribe to a brand’s emails in order to get coupons and discounts in their inboxes; people expect to receive value in exchange for subscribing.
Chances are that your audience is looking for you to share offers with them, but only if those offers are truly relevant to their needs. If they’ve shared personal information with you, they expect you to use it to craft personalized email messages for them.
In fact, 59% of people say that when they receive product suggestions based on their profile data it’s “very useful.” (Janrain)
Almost the same number — 56% — eventually opt out of email lists because the content is no longer relevant to them.
Clearly, there are strong expectations around personalized emails, and even stronger potential to reap rewards from them. So are email marketers taking advantage of the powers personalization? The answer right now seems to be a very firm, “No.”
The Gap Between Expectations and Reality
One of the biggest problems with email personalization is that many marketers think that by simply inserting our subscribers’ first names we’ve “personalized” our emails.
Once upon a time just including a name in an email salutation might have wowed your audience, but now 63% of people receive so many messages using their name that it, “no longer makes any difference to them.” (Janrain)
Marketers recognize how important personalized content is: 77% report that real-time personalization is “highly important,” and 80% cite it as the top real-time marketing channel. But despite the acknowledgement from marketers, there is a high level of discontent among their email recipients:
70% of consumers feel that attempts at personalization are superficial: the result of irrelevant product suggestions, impersonalized service offers, and nonstop email solicitations that can cause consumers to grow numb to heedless brands.
Clearly, we need to do a better job of getting to the next level of personalization with our email automations.
Personalizing Email Automations With List Segments
It’s pretty obvious that just greeting people with, “Hi, FirstName!” isn’t going to cut it anymore. We need to create email campaigns that are meaningful to subscribers, but we also can’t manually send out emails all day long.
What we need are targeted automations based on highly specific segments of our email lists.
If a subscriber clicks on an ad about sectional sofas, they should be notified every time your furniture is having a special on that type of couch. But if they buy one they should automatically be removed from that automation.
It sounds complex, but if you have email software in place that treats each address like what it really is — a person with interests and needs — this type of hyper-personalization becomes possible.
You can initially create segments of your email lists based on traditional demographics, previous purchases, geographic location, and so on, but the real power of personalized email automations comes from campaigns that are responsive to current behavior.
If someone takes an action, that action should impact the emails they receive from you in the future.
This type of relevancy is what consumers are increasingly coming to expect, and with the right software it’s just a matter of choosing the various paths down which you want to direct your subscribers.
Recognizing the People Behind the Email Addresses
When we start really recognizing the people behind the email addresses on our lists, we’ll be taking a huge first step into making email campaigns that offer the best of both worlds.
Our subscribers get the real-time personalization that they crave, and we can get the power and convenience of preset automations that require minimal interventions.
Just like content marketing has changed the way consumers expect to interact with brand-produced content, email personalization has changed they way they want to engage with brands in their inbox.
As Patrick Tripp points out, “When you can demonstrate how your product solves customers’ specific problem or meets their unique need, your email will become something valuable in your customer’s inbox.”
The Race to Personalization is On
As of now, as little as 5% of companies are personalizing emails “at a sophisticated level” according to Econsultancy. That means there are huge opportunities for companies who take the time to set up truly engaging, hyper-personalized email automations.
Software that makes this possible is more affordable than ever, meaning that it’s not just the largest companies who can compete to be the most valuable resource in someone’s inbox.
Simply by understanding our customers and working to use our email campaigns to meet their unique needs, any brand can create these kinds of connections.
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