4 Tips to Boost Engagement With Email Personalization
Marketers within the publishing industry are well aware that audiences want to read content that is relevant to their unique, individual interests and needs. The more successfully publishers tap into this expectation, the higher and more engaged readership will be. The same thought process should apply to e-newsletters and email marketing campaigns, as well; yet all too often, emails are treated as batch and blast, mass distribution marketing. How can publishers use email to better connect with subscribers? The key is in personalization.
Subscription emails and e-newsletters are a powerful way to engage readers when they aren’t on your website. As an influential tool for brands in any industry, email typically has a return on investment of 40-50%, helping you connect with audiences, drive website sessions and keep your company top of mind. But with the countless email notifications that individuals encounter each day, it’s essential to strategically disrupt your subscribers’ inboxes with valuable ideas and offers that will resonate with them.
In my last article, I shared some tips to increase subscribers, optimize delivery, and improve performance based on past campaigns. Now, let’s take a deeper dive into making emails more effective and engaging with personalization. Tailoring content, subject lines, format, and even delivery times can be the key components that make your emails a must-read and keep your subscribers reading.
Tools That Help You Become More Personal
First thing’s first. It’s important to remember that email personalization doesn’t stop at the greeting. Giving your audience the impression that the email they received was tailored just for them requires a bit more effort than saying “Hi, [insert your name here].” To increase the relevance of a loyalty-driving newsletter or email campaign, you have to understand your audience members -- not just their demographic data, but their behaviors and preferences as well.
Which subscribers prefer imagery over long copy? Which are more likely to click on links to articles with tips than full-length interviews? Building a rock solid database with subscribers’ contact information, interests, and behavioral patterns allows better segmenting and targeting. Marketing automation software and CRM systems that collect data are the perfect tools to help with this, keeping your processes efficient and your data up-to-date. An ideal marketing automation solution will pull information about your subscribers directly from your CRM and will make it easy to send customized emails to hyper-targeted lists.
Keeping track of which web pages your contact has viewed, which emails they’ve opened, which links they’ve clicked, and more, gives you insight into their personal preferences. Armed with that information, publishers have the opportunity to create better subscriber segments with similar interests and target subscribers with tailored content.
To help you get more personal with your subscribers, here are four ways to take advantage of personalization within email:
1. Customize content for each target segment. Data collected from surveys and polls, as well as previous behaviors, offer great insight into topics of interest, preferred formats, and other preferences that can be helpful in building out your email newsletters. On average, 56% of subscribers opt-out of emails because the content is irrelevant. To avoid this, fine tune each email so subscribers feel the articles included were hand-picked just for them. For example, a business news website might have segments for marketing, finance, and leadership based on what type of article subscribers read just before signing up for the newsletter
2. Get them to click. Good news -- your reader opened your email. Now what? The real power behind email marketing is to bring subscribers deeper into your content and company. With a strong database, you can cater your calls-to-action (what you want your reader to do next) based on how the subscriber has interacted with your website in the past. If they’ve been reading science fiction pieces for the past month, for example, provide a one-click button that leads them to read the latest sci-fi piece.
3. Test for success. From subject lines and sender name to layout and content, everything in an email can be personalized, tested, and optimized to improve response rates. Sending variations of one component, while leaving all other aspects of the email the same, to two small groups can show which variation works best. For example, two subject lines a food and beverage magazine can test are: “Top 10 Holiday Party Recipes” versus “Our Mouth-Watering Holiday Recipes.” As a best practice, eye-grabbing subject lines lure recipients, and, those that are catchy or elicit a sense of urgency get opened more often. In this scenario, using insights you’ve gathered on individual subscribers, you could know which readers have been searching for holiday recipes on your website, and you can send a compelling email based on their interests.
4. Integrate your email marketing with all marketing activities. When an email is opened, what do subscribers click on? Where do they go from there? Tracking email campaigns from distribution to final destination gives you visibility into how your content is used full-circle. Installing tracking codes on your website and following subscribers’ behavior provides insight into exactly what content the reader is looking for and which ads they are clicking on.With this data, your marketing team knows which winning content to create more of and which readers to target with which types of information.
Tracking Personalization Effectiveness
Setting goals and monitoring email metrics will help you recognize performance improvements with each campaign and compare the results. Here’s a look at what would be considered a successful email initiative for most marketers strive to achieve:
- High deliverability (ideally above 95%)
- High open and click-through rates (an open rate between 15-25% and a click-through rate of at least 2-3%)
- Low unsubscribe rates (less than 1%)
- High conversion rates (clicks that lead to a purchase or form completion)
- High return on investment (revenue generated by the email)
Working with many digital publishing companies, I’ve seen firsthand just how an email personalization strategy helps grow subscribers exponentially. Collecting behavioral data on your subscribers, customizing content for each type of persona, and getting a little personal enables emails to feel like they were hand-curated. After all, the secret to subscription success is keeping audiences satisfied and engaged.
Nate Kristy’s B2B, SaaS, and services marketing expertise stems from over 15 years of industry experience in leadership and marketing development. As vice president of marketing for Automational, Kristy manages the marketing strategy, messaging and lead generation initiatives for the small business marketing and sales solution.