Email MarketingWhat’s the difference between email marketing and spam? Proper email marketing is permission-based, which means your customers have provided you with their email address and have indicated that they want to receive your emails. You’re making an effort to provide them with content they can use, be it special offers, helpful articles, or entertaining videos. And should they ever decide they no longer want to participate, you’ve provided your customers with a clear and simple method for opting out.

Spammers are the goateed evil twins of email marketers. They pollute the email channels with their unsolicited and highly-dubious offers for weight loss programs, online degrees, and generic pharmaceuticals. They create so much email noise that your legitimate message stands a good chance of being ignored, filtered out, or dragged to the virtual trash bin by mistake. The key to being heard above the din is to personalize your email marketing efforts. Using the information in your customer database, you can tailor your emails to individual recipients. And once you set yourself apart from the spam and form letters in your customers’ inboxes, you’ll see those response rates start climbing.

Here are some tips on making your email marketing more personal.

Send Your Email from a Human

Probably the easiest way to make your emails more personal is to have them come from a living, breathing human being instead of XYZ Company. If you’re a business owner, give your customers the opportunity to interact with you directly. If you have a marketing team, have an individual member sign and send the email. You can even add a photo to drive home the fact that your customers are dealing with people rather than a faceless business.

Grab ‘Em with the Subject Line

The subject line may very well be the most important component of an email, as it provides your customers with their first and only hint as to what the message is about. Make it too generic, and they’ll delete it. Make it too spammy, and their filters will wipe it out before they ever see it. Rather than being coy about the message, try to let your customers know up front what they can expect when they open your email. Be specific, and do your best to grab their attention.

Address Your Customers by Name

As flattering as it is to be referred to as a “Valued Customer,” most of us simply respond better when referred to by name. Take advantage of your customer database and greet your customers personally. However, it’s important to separate business names from personal names, otherwise you could end up with salutations like “Dear XYZ” or “Hello, Mr. Company.”

Be Conversational, but Professional

Email, by its very nature, is an informal means of communication. It’s important to come across as professional in your emails, but you can do this without being stilted and dull. Be personable and try to strike a friendly tone. Concentrate less on selling to your customers and try instead to address their needs and acknowledge their pain points. In short, try to treat each email as a small piece in a larger, ongoing conversation with your customers.

Segment Your Data

It makes sense to divide your list of email recipients into logical groups. That way, instead of sending out one single mass-mailing, you can tailor your email to each customer’s business type, areas of interest, pain points, etc. The more specific you can be, the better your chances of marketing to each individual. For example:

  • Segmenting by social data is pretty easy and straightforward. You can use this strategy to send out personal birthday greetings to your customers, or to address those who share common interests.
  • Segmenting by past purchase history is a great way to demonstrate to your customers that you remember them. In addition, it lets you personalize your offers to products or services that will complement their previous purchases.
  • Segmenting by website activity can be a great strategy for engaging those leads who might be perusing your online content and marketing collateral, but haven’t made the leap to customer yet. Rather than make a product recommendation, you would probably want to nurture them with additional content, demos, and eventually offers before moving on to the hard sell.

Don’t Be Creepy

Consider this the corollary to data segmentation. The line between personalizing your email and stalking your customers is pretty broad, but a lot of email marketers still tend to stampede over it without a second thought. The idea is to tailor your marketing to your customers, not creep them out by breaking the kayfabe of internet anonymity.

Good: “Based on your previous purchases, I thought you might be interested in this product.”

Bad: “I noticed you spent seven minutes looking at this brochure in April, and since you have three daughters, I thought this product might be something that would appeal to you. By the way, love the tattoo!”

I don’t have the exact figures at the moment, but I think it’s pretty safe to say that your chances of making a sale decrease significantly once your customer files a restraining order against you.

If you’re looking for help personalizing your email marketing, hopefully you’ll find this advice useful. Just remember, there’s more to the process than simply plugging somebody’s name into a form letter. Your customers won’t care how personal your emails are if you’re not providing them with anything useful. But if used correctly, email personalization will help you connect with your customers while tailoring the right content and offers to them.

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