Email personalization is what everyone is talking about but few are implementing in practice. The reason for it may be that there are many myths surrounding personalization and how it’s represented in emails.
In the article below, you’ll take a look at what personalized emails really are and how they are created. Knowing the technique behind the process, it will be easier for you to send customer-tailored messages in case you’ve been missing on it so far.
What Is Personalization in Emails
Many think that personalization equals saying “Hi, Tom” in your emails. It’s actually not. Modern customers know you’re a business willing to sell them something and don’t expect extra friendliness on your side, much less in direct ads and promos. What they expect is valuable, entertaining or at least distracting content picked based on their preferences and sent to the channel they expect it in.
But how do you send personalized content to each customer if you have thousands or millions of them? No brand, even ecommerce giants, can afford huge teams of marketers crafting each email manually. With modern email automation tools, they don’t need to.
Cookies, web tracking and email analytics allow you to track and collect customer data and then use it for segmentation. Segmentation, in its turn, allows to split your contact base into smaller groups and send each group relevant offers.
More importantly, personalization enables to respond instantly to any customer action or inaction and run effective retention strategies. For example, you can send timely welcome emails, onboarding emails, order and shipment confirmations, surveys, retargeting and reactivation email campaigns.
Onboarding email by Medium sent to users who have bought a membership
Personalization through Dynamic Content
A way to supplement segmentation in creating personalized emails is dynamic content. Dynamic content is the type of content that changes in every email depending on the recipient it’s sent to. It’s added to emails via dynamic variables that are substituted by personal customer data taken at the moment of the email launch.
Dynamic personalization isn’t suitable for all emails. Bulk promos, newsletters and digests are impersonal by default and people don’t look for anything personal in them. If you have enough browsing history on the customer, you can use it for personalized product recommendations, but that will be it. However, if you’re an ecommerce doing most sales online, you most likely send a big number of transactional emails and this is where using dynamic content can be crucial.
A transactional email is an email sent in response to the action (or inaction) of the customer. Such actions include subscription, account creation, webinar registration, order, payment, feedback, cart abandonment, etc. By sending the corresponding emails, you confirm that the customer has performed the successful action and you’re processing it.
When you send a transactional email, it’s better to include in it all the details on the trigger action. For example, if you send a subscription payment confirmation, add the name of the pricing plan a person has subscribed to, its expiration or renewal date, payment method, and total price. When you send an order confirmation, add the order ID, quantity of bought items, their photos, total price, payment and shipment methods, etc.
Look at the two emails below. The email on the left is how an order confirmation template with dynamic variables looks before sending. It features parameters that will be substituted by the data of a particular recipient upon being sent.
The email on the right is how the recipient, say Ken, sees the order confirmation in his Inbox. It has info on his particular order. Other customers who have placed orders on your site will receive the same template filled with their data. All substitutions are automated.
How to Create a Personalized Email
The advice that comes before the rest is to select the proper service provider with fast event management and data processing. It should receive data from your site and add it to emails in seconds after the target action because timely sending is as important as personalization itself. The customer expects a confirmation straight after the order is placed and not hours later.
- Track customer data.
You don’t need to follow every customer’s move. Decide what data you need for your emails and focus on it. Since you’ll be sending it to your ESP for substitution in emails, make sure the data transfer is set properly and all parameters are assigned with values.
- Segment your contact list.
Split your base into segments based on certain conditions. Provided you’re using a professional CDP, any parameter can be a condition for segmentation: order placement, day of the last order placement, average order price, bought products, location, shipment method, etc. The more precise segments, the more relevant offers you’ll be able to send.
Customers with an average check of $50 require different approaches than the customers who pay over $150 per order. India-based customers may not need your Super Bowl discounts as Super Bowl is a big shopping event in the USA only. Customers who haven’t bought from you for over 3 months may need a reactivation campaign, and last-week customers don’t need reminders about your existence.
- Set triggers.
Set triggers, actions that will trigger the email launch. Every time the target action is performed, the person will receive the corresponding email.
- Create emails with dynamic content.
Create email templates with dynamic variables for each trigger. When adding variables for text elements, mind that substituted text won’t equal the variable in length: some will be longer, some will be shorter. Design your template in a way that will adapt to text of any size and won’t distort it.
- Test your campaigns.
Once all technical issues are settled, test your campaigns. Perform the complete customer journey, from, say, order placement on the site to receiving the confirmation email. Check how fast triggers are processed and emails are sent, whether they contain the right information, whether all variables are substituted as intended and how the layout looks in general.
To Sum Up
Email personalization is an important step toward building long-time relationships with your customers. With the rise of technologies enabling to collect and analyze big data, you have more options to lead personal conversations and build a loyal audience around your brand. Select the proper tools, build applicable email strategies and regularly revise them to detect the most effective solutions.
Iuliia Nesterenko is a technical writer at eSputnik. Her focus is on exploring current digital marketing trends and describing new strategies for email marketers.