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How to Increase Revenue and Engagement with Email Personalization

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The following post originally appeared as a chapter in MailCharts‘ 2016 Holiday Email Marketing Report. Download your copy here to see the full report!

Imagine this: You walk into your favorite neighborhood boutique and the sales clerk approaches you exclaiming “Bree! It’s so nice to see you again. Come on right this way, I have the perfect pair of boots to go with those jeans you bought last week.”

Now compare that intro with the all-too-common, “Can I help you with anything?”

I think it’s a safe bet that the first option is more likely to engage you.

Online shopping is very similar. After all, it’s nice to feel a connection with the company you’re about to give money to. During the holiday period, it’s easy for email marketers to feel pressured into sending emails that are unrelatable and sales-y because they need to reach revenue quota.

To work around this, and ensure your emails feel as special as the approaching sales clerk does, email personalization is your new best friend. By spending the resources needed to personalize your emails you get to stand out in an inbox full of generic holiday promotions. Not only do you get to show that you care about each one of your subscribers, you also get to maximize revenue.

73% of online shoppers prefer to do business with brands that make their shopping more relevant and 45% are more likely to shop on a website that gives customers personal recommendations. If that’s not enough to get you thinking about email personalization, you should know that 91% of marketers are either already personalizing content, or plan to within the next year. Put in the effort today and focus on personalization this holiday period.

Personalizing Your Email Marketing Campaigns

If you’re just beginning to dip your toes in the personalization waters, you need to remember that any personalization is better than nothing.

Personalized emails receive 2.5X higher click-through rates and 6X more sales than those without. Let’s say that during the months leading up to Christmas your company traditionally sells $200,000 worth of products through email marketing. If we were to extrapolate the above stats, personalizing your emails could help you turn $200,000 into $1.2 million. Your milage may vary, true, but personalization is one of the best ways to optimize your email program.

If you’re worried about obtaining enough relevant information to start your personalization efforts, don’t be. You actually need very little information to get started. Details such as name, gender, location, and shopping history is often available in your CRM or ESP.

Personalization Strategies

Creating a personalized subject line is one of the first things marketers implement, mainly due to the ease of obtaining a subscriber’s first name, and the significant impact it can have on email open rates. A study performed by Experian found that a personalized subject line increased open rates by 29.3% across all industries.

During the holidays, when email frequency is increased and shoppers are looking for sales and promotions, an extra 29% of opened emails can be a game changer. And this is just the beginning!

While adding your subscriber’s first name can have a significant impact, email personalization needs to go much further than this.

Most online shoppers, even unknowingly, will give you information you can use to personalize emails. A customer’s shopping behavior, such as purchasing history, products abandoned in their cart, and category searches can all be used to send relevant emails. To put it bluntly: a male customer is very unlikely to purchase a sporting bra—don’t send him an email advertising your women’s activewear sale. If you don’t know someone’s gender, focus on unisex products instead (e.g. running shoes) or include products for both genders.

Segmenting your subscriber by geolocation is another effective way to ensure your emails are relevant. For example, subscribers living outside of the U.S. might not be as eager to celebrate Halloween, or Thanksgiving, as U.S. subscribers.

Contextual Email Marketing

Within the next few years, 89% of companies will be competing mainly on customer experience. This is where contextual marketing comes into play. It involves using your customer’s past actions and interests to send them targeted marketing.

Demographic data is often readily available. You might, for example, use gender to tailor which products to promote to whom and use each subscriber’s birthday to send them happy wishes or a one-off discount on their special day. That being said, demographics data doesn’t tell you about the current mission of the shopper.

When you layer on behavioral data—such as previous purchases and search history—you can personalize emails further by targeting each customer’s specific interests. Someone that recently purchased a Christmas tree from you might, for example, be interested in Christmas decorations. Behavioral data allows you to get tremendous insights on your customer’s current needs—like how a good sales assistant in a store can pick up visual clues and react in real-time.

Finally, you can incorporate real-time context to make the email experience relevant at the time of open. Let’s say you’re promoting concert tickets, by using open-time context your email is able to only show tickets that remain available when each subscriber opens the email.

Learn Tons from Your Audience

Progressive profiling is another technique you can use to learn more about your subscribers. It allows you to collect personal information over time, instead of asking for too much information during the signup process.

Another creative option is email poling to understand your subscribers. You can, for example, use Movable Ink to send an email asking subscribers to select which outfit best suits them. From there, all follow up emails will feature products that match that style.

Pretty neat, right?

Email personalization is crucial when it comes to increasing revenue during the holidays. Not only will you see more email engagement, but a personal and relevant email will help foster a relationship between consumers and retailers while building trust.

And remember, personalization does not need to be a monumental task. Use the information you have already gathered to tailor your holiday emails. It’s all about taking gradual steps in order to provide a better email experience.

Want to learn more about adding contextual elements to your emails to create highly-personalized experiences? Download our eBook: Everything You Need to Know About Contextual Marketing.

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