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How To Create A Powerful & Personalised Email Marketing Journey for E-Commerce Businesses

Despite the constant presence of social media, email marketing remains one of the most powerful, direct, and influential tools in any ecommerce professional’s arsenal.

With great tools to help direct audiences’ attention and the power of robust data analytics, there’s no better time than now to get a grasp on how email marketing works, what works with most customers, and how these techniques can boost your business to new heights.

Let’s start with a simple primer on the basics of a personalized email marketing journey:

What Is Email Personalisation?

Personalised email marketing allows marketers to give their subscribers relevant and individualized content. This includes addressing subscribers personally and reaching out to them with content that they might find interesting.

By using subscriber data, marketers are able to tweak an email’s content to make it more suitable for each individual. Here are a few statistics regarding the effectiveness of personalised emails:

 The concept behind personalising emails for marketing is backed by psychology. Research shows that personalisation, among other techniques that leverage psychology, appeals to human emotion. In the case of personalised emails, marketers make subscribers feel like VIPs by using subscriber data to communicate in a more personal way instead of resorting to mass messaging.

For example, here are some types of data that can be leveraged for email campaigns:

  • Personal Info (like their first or last name): ‘Hi, Evan!’ or ‘Hope you’re doing well, Ms Smith.’
  • Last Purchased Product: Some drugstores, for example, send emails that remind their clients to repurchase the supplements they bought after a month. Retail stores can also send product recommendations based on what a customer last bought.
  • Location: Can be used for branch/store recommendations, new release reminders, and the like
  • Number of App Logins Daily: May be used for targeting app users for ads and pop-up promos or reminders

These are just some of the data points and ideas that marketers can use to personalise experiences for their clients. We’ll discuss these in more detail later on.

If you’re interested in learning how to personalise emails, keep reading—let’s get started on your email marketing journey!

Importance of Email Personalisation

People generally prefer personalised experiences because they elicit an emotional response. A study from the University of Texas reveals that people gravitate towards personalised experiences because of two things:

  • The Desire for Control: Because a personalised experience makes people feel like they are seen as individuals, it allows people to feel a sense of control when engaging with material that’s made specifically for them.
  • Helps Reduce Information Overload: Because we live in the digital age, so much content is fighting for our attention. Promotional emails are especially overabundant and it can be hard to go through everything. Being able to ‘focus’ on something tailor-made for us makes it easier to process information.

That being said, personalised emails are especially important if you’re considering  email marketing for eCommerce business, for the following reasons:

  • They stand out in clients’ inboxes because they’re tailor-made and relevant
  • They’re a way of strengthening relationships with customers by sending them content at the right time
  • They are more likely to be clicked on and read than mass messages
  • People have come to expect a certain level of personalisation from brands that they like
  • Personalisation appeals to human emotion in the same way that impulse buying does

Elements Of a Personalised Email

To understand how to personalise emails, you’ll want to keep the following elements in mind:

Human Element

One of the reasons why personalising marketing emails is so effective is because it humanises brands and businesses. Instead of being sent a message from a bot or organisation, a personalised email always comes from a person. People are naturally more trusting of emails that come from another person rather than a business. This is why it’s important to have a key figure in your business or organisation sign their name in the ‘from’ field of an email. If possible, use a photo as an email icon instead of a company logo.

Timely

A personalised email also has to be timely. It’s one of the key elements of an effective marketing email. By using subscriber data, you can gain insights into the type of content they need at a specific stage of their customer journey.

A great example of this is using customer searches on your website to gather ideas on what content to include in your emails to specific clients at that point in time. By doing this, you’re addressing a client’s need (or want) and providing them with a solution, which they will likely appreciate.

Relevant

Perhaps the most important element of a personalised email is relevance. Since most people’s inboxes are saturated with personal and promotional emails, you need to offer something that will grab your subscriber’s attention.

You need to be able to use existing data to show customers that you understand them and can add value to their lives by offering relevant content. Some tips for doing this are:

Read more about these tips in this blog post about understanding subscribers and potential customers.

Benefits Of Personalised Email Marketing

Email messaging has been around for a long time. In fact, it has outlived most forms of online communication like Yahoo Instant Messaging, MySpace, and Friendster. In fact, some of these might not be familiar to you anymore.

Email, on the other hand, has stood the test of time. Because it’s an effective form of communication used by everything from medical institutions to banks and governments, nearly everyone has an email account. However, there lies the catch, too. Because nearly everyone has an email account, this means that tons of companies and competitors are also going to be emailing your subscribers, fighting for their attention.

For you to succeed in an extremely saturated environment, you need to take advantage of what you know about your subscribers to get through to them. This is where personalised emails come in. Here are five benefits personalised emails can offer:

  1. Higher Sales Returns Compared to Regular Bulk Emails
  2. Lower Unsubscribe Rates
  3. No Operational Costs
  4. Flexible Approach
  5. Higher Conversion Rates

Email Personalization Tactics

The key thing about email personalisation is making sure that you first have enough relevant information about your subscribers. These are your existing customers and potential customers.

From this data, you can find out information about their profile, needs, and preferences. Then, you will have to divide your list into smaller groups. This is called segmenting email addresses. This will be very helpful in guiding you on the kinds of emails you can send to specific groups. Depending on what you find out, you can choose to segment them based on background, age, gender, location, or habits.

You can then come up with content ideas such as:

  • Fresh, Relevant news
  • Useful and Timely Information
  • Rewards for Prompt Action
  • Personal Invite
  • Behavioural Triggers

To make sure that your emails are successful, make sure to use the following tactics for email personalization:

‘From’ Name

An email’s ‘from’ field is one of its most prominent elements because it’s one of the first things a receiver sees. This field might display even bigger on certain desktop and mobile devices to help clients screen emails before opening them.

Unsurprisingly, a large percentage of people open emails based on the name they see in this field.

Depending on your type of business, you can change the name in this field to appeal to various clients and customer segments. For example:

  • The name of the sales representative or account manager that a client communicates with regularly
  • The business owner’s name or company CEO’s name
  • The name of a brand ambassador or influencer that the customer segment/s closely follow

Subject Line

Aside from the ‘from’ field, another prominent element of an email that heavily influences open rates is the subject line. Research from the Stanford Graduate School of Business shows that changing an email’s subject line to include the subscriber’s name improves an email’s performance significantly:

  • A 17% decrease in unsubscribe rates
  • Up to 31% increase in sales
  • Raise open rates by 20%

Subject lines also have a more prominent appearance on most devices, making it an even more significant part of an email personalisation campaign. In some cases, it can be as simple as saying ‘Hi, Grace!’ or ‘Grace, you wouldn’t want to miss this 20% off sitewide clearance sale!’ The main idea is that you want to grab a person’s attention within the first seconds of interaction with your email.

Adding A Subscriber’s First Name To The Email

This is probably one of the most common email personalisation tactics out there but it’s important nonetheless. Communicating with customers and potential customers with their names adds a personalised touch to most messages.

By addressing them personally in your salutation, you’re letting your reader know that you’re talking directly to them. To make it more effective, we suggest employing a few other tactics from this list, especially the ones related to the email’s content itself.

Make sure to not overuse their name, too. Make your message sound natural, almost as if they were just hearing from a friend. You want to invoke a sense of familiarity and wouldn’t want to come across as fake or trying too hard. Simply stuffing the message with their name in predetermined, templated places is bad practice, so ensure that you double-check your messages for good flow before sending them out!

Imagery

Using beautiful, on-brand, and customized images is also a powerful personalisation technique. They say ‘a picture paints a thousand words,’ so make sure you put your visuals to good use by being intentional in using graphics and images.

You’ll have to work with a designer and possibly conduct A/B testing to ensure what kind of imagery works for specific customer segments. This will allow you to tweak various elements of your artworks, like design layout, colour scheme, design elements, and overall messaging.

You can customize images based on location, for example, and send out messages with location-specific images. You can use popular landmarks, cultural attractions, and other markers of place to evoke a sense of familiarity and personalisation.

Dynamic Content Offers

A lot of big brands employ this tactic by using demographic data and geographic data to personalise offers for each customer. It’s called ‘dynamic’ because the principle behind it is that you can change the content of your email message to make it more appealing and relevant to the consumer you’re sending it to.

For example, an eCommerce business that sells all sorts of clothing can use data based on demographics and best-selling items to send the following to their subscribers:

  • For Female Subscribers: Women’s loungewear items and work-from-home outfit ideas
  • For Male Subscribers: Men’s loungewear and must-have tech accessories

As you can see from the example above, the content of the email adjusts based on the data gathered. The goal is for it to deliver the best possible message that will encourage conversion. By filtering by gender and best-sellers for that specific group, there’s a high chance of success that subscribers will be interested in looking at the options you’re offering.

Re-engagement

Email personalisation is also a very helpful tool for encouraging existing customers and already engaged readers to come back and repurchase. These can come in the form of emails that remind them to repurchase or re-subscribe.

This tactic can also work for subscription-based business models by sending re-engagement emails prior to subscription expiry or shortly thereafter. Depending on your product or service, you can employ a variety of methods to re-engage customers in your campaign:

  • Sending light-hearted ‘We miss you!’ or ‘We want you back!’ emails to appeal to their sense of attachment
  • Sending special offers like discounts, promos, or special vouchers exclusively to returning customers
  • Sending genuinely-worded ‘Thank You’ notes. This is perfect for small businesses or non-profit organisations that want to express gratitude to consumers for their support.
  • Asking them for feedback. This can also be helpful in gaining valuable insight into what worked or what didn’t work for that specific group of clients.

Product Recommendations

You can also send customers curated product recommendations based on data regarding what they recently searched, viewed, liked, added to a wishlist, or added to their cart. Customers are usually interested in items that are similar to what they’ve liked or search for, especially if product recommendations have added ‘perks’ like:

  • Better price point
  • More colour or size options
  • Just a different design

 

Good Reads Email Example

Goodreads regularly sends users personalised emails with recommendations based on authors, genres, and titles they’ve previously read or bookmarked.

 It gives them the liberty of choosing the best item based on their preferences. Again, this appeals to the customer’s ‘desire for control,’ the psychological trigger that we discussed earlier. By giving them options, you are also offering them a great user experience and this encourages them to trust and engage with your business further.

You can do this by tracking your site visitors’ clicks and search history. They can also be classified as either ‘not engaged,’ ‘moderately engaged,’ or ‘heavily engaged’ based on their site usage. Based on these, you can then craft individualized messages per customer or group.

Birthday Greetings and Perks and Other Milestone Markers

Another way to personalise emails and make sure your customers feel appreciated is by sending greetings exactly on their birthday or birthday month/week. You can also congratulate them on specific milestones achieved based on their website activity. Here are some examples:

  • Offer an exclusive freebie or discount voucher to celebrate their birthday
  • Send them an email on the week or month of their birthday with a discount voucher that they can use all week/month on all purchases made site-wide
  • Congratulate them for milestones and showcase data that helps them appreciate their achievements, such as:
    • Nike congratulates subscribers for achieving personal fitness goals such as reaching a total number of calories, miles, or steps by giving them a virtual medal or award.
    • Fitbit congratulates subscribers for physical fitness milestones like reaching the maximum number of steps walked or winning in an in-app competition against a friend.
    • Grammarly showcases data on a subscriber’s performance and shows improvements in terms of word count reached, accuracy, productivity, and uniqueness.

Fitbit - Email Example

Leveraging user data, such as usage data from apps, is a great way to congratulate people on their progress.

Conclusion

Personalising emails are a powerful marketing tool that can help eCommerce businesses increase their ROI and connect with existing and potential consumers. With the help of available data on subscribers’ activities, marketers should be able to pull valuable insights and utilize them in targeted email marketing campaigns.

Remember the following key pointers to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your email marketing efforts:

  • Use subscriber data to understand your customers and potential customers
  • Segment your email marketing list to facilitate further personalisation based on customers’ demographics and preferences
  • Make use of multiple email personalisation tactics to craft the best email campaigns that will surely engage readers
  • Use resources like images, copy, and promotional offers to make email marketing one of your most effective marketing channels
  • Remember to engage with consumers in a friendly, genuine manner
  • Get the message across that you’re not just a brand or company but a team composed of individuals who want to connect with their customers.
Author avatar
Rani Arsanios
Founder and Director of SAVV Digital, Rani has spent over 15 years working and consulting brands and businesses globally on how to improve and optimise their sales and marketing capabilities.

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