Understanding Email Personalisation

For all its simplicity, email marketing is still one of the most effective ways of communicating with, and selling to, your clients.  Modern email software systems make the automation and bulk sending of emails relatively simple, and they bring with them the ability to “personalise” your email.

For the majority of companies though, personalisation is limited to pulling the recipients first name out of the mailing list, and automatically adding it to the mail.  If you’re using your email marketing intelligently though, you need to understand that there’s more to personalising your emails than just including somebodies name.  In fact, sometimes you don’t even need to include their name to personalise effectively.

What Is Personalisation Really About?

I’m glad you asked.  Personalisation is about taking into account the reason that people should want your mails.  It’s about understanding that the way to engage your recipients isn’t about bombarding them with information, it’s about helping them out.

To use email marketing successfully, you have to focus on how you can help recipients solve their problems, or save them time or money in some way that encourages them to get involved.

If your email helps them in some way, you’re going to get a much better response than you would if you were simply sending them an advert.  Helping your clients is always a good tactic, and to be able to help them, you have to understand their needs and their problems.

And speaking to those needs and problems is far more personal than merely sending to a name.

Personalisation Is Hard Work

It’s very easy to add your recipients first name is in the email, but that’s not only the most simple form of personalisation, and arguably the least sincere.

Real personalisation takes work.  And if you really want to personalise in the best way, you need to look at the data.  Personalisation isn’t about personal details, it’s not about demographics or persona’s.  Real personalisation is about behaviour.

If you receive an email promotion, and one of the items interests you enough that you go and look at it on the site, but maybe it’s a bit too expensive, how much would you like it if the following month, you get sent a mail telling you about a discount on the item you were looking at?

Examining the behaviour of your recipients, and segmenting your list accordingly, gives you the opportunity to understand what various recipients are interested in, and then to cater to their interests by sending personalised mails specifically based on those interests.  Taking that knowledge of their behaviour into account lets you offer them solutions to problems you can deduce based on their reactions to other, less personalised content.

Using this data isn’t easy.  It’s time and resource intensive.  But if you commit to doing it properly, the returns are going to be a lot better than anything you get from just pulling somebodies name into your email.