Email Marketing

What The Queen Can Teach You About Email Marketing

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In the UK there’s a quaint tradition of relatives applying for a congratulatory card from the Queen when family members reach their 100th birthday or diamond wedding anniversary.

Even though tens of thousands of these cards are sent out every year – the cards use recipients’ full names and birthdays/anniversaries, so they really do look like the Queen sat down and wrote them herself.

I’ve never seen such a card up close so I can’t say for sure whether Her Royal Highness’s John Hancock is authentic or pre-printed, but I can say this: I’m willing to bet that recipients keep and display these cards for years after receiving them.

queen 100th birthday card

The greetings card industry is very much a disposable one, so the fact that these cards are filed away for years to come is pretty impressive.

True, you’re probably not a member of the Royal Family, but there’s still a lesson to be learned here: [tweet_dis]a little personalization goes a long way[/tweet_dis].

Personalization doesn’t have to mean more work

Personalized marketing can sound intimidating because, if you have more than a handful of customers, it feels like it will be a massive undertaking for an unknown amount of reward.

In reality, you’re probably already using some personalized marketing techniques without consciously realizing that’s what they are.

In this post I wanted to put together three common techniques:

  1. Email personalization
  2. Shopping cart abandonment
  3. Personalizing on YOUR side, rather than the customer’s

I also wanted to get down some thoughts about easy applications for each of these ideas and back up with some hard evidence why each of them is at least worth testing.

Disclaimer: these examples are very simplistic – obviously, there’s much more to email personalization than just sticking a name in the subject line – but they’re designed to give you a taste of easy things to try.

So, without further ado, let’s get down to it, shall we?

Personalized Marketing Emails

fname marketing email fail

Using personalization in email campaigns isn’t particularly novel. Marketers have been using first names in emails ever since they started collecting them during their respective signup processes.

However, as recently as 2012, Marketing Sherpa found something no more complicated than using names in subject lines improved CTR by up to 25%. Think using names in subject lines is passé? Maybe, but it works.

An email addressed to <<fname>> or quiegwuw isn’t likely to inspire many opens, so it’s wise to comb though lists and exclude entries with missing fields. Admittedly, this can become a bit arduous for companies with thousands of addresses on their list…

I’ve written previously about gimmicks like using emojis in email subject lines, recommending caution, but with proven results from studies like the above as recently as 2012 – it’s difficult not to recommend giving subject line names a try.

Basket/Shopping Cart Abandonment

shopping cart abandoned

You may be thinking “hey, does cart abandonment really count as email personalization?”

Valid question but since shopping cart abandonment emails include a personalized range of products—albeit based on what visitors have added themselves—I think it fits here.

As a consumer, I have to say that I’m not a huge fan of cart abandonment emails and targeted advertising because they always seem to show me products I’ve already ordered at full price (grr).

As a marketer, I can absolutely see how they’re valuable in converting skittish customers.

When I decide I want something, I pretty much know I want it. But even I will admit that, if I can’t find a discount code online, I’ll sometimes leave a product in my basket in the hopes that a brand will send me a discount code.

Clearly, I’m not the only one. SaleCycle found that 44% of abandonment emails are opened and over 10% are clicked. A hair less than 30% of those clicks led to recovered purchases on the sites in question.

If you have a smart system in place, putting measures in action to combat cart abandonment can be one of the easiest (and most lucrative) ways to dabble in personalized marketing.

And, if you want to get creative, the sky’s the limit—just check out these great examples for inspiration.

Personalization Works Both Ways

Businesswoman Surrounded by Robots

Showing customers and potential customers that you understand they’re human beings is one thing, but reminding them that you’re human is a good idea as well.

There’s little worse than trying to send an email to a company and getting halfway through writing out your reply only to see that the email address they sent the mailer from is [email protected].

noreply@ email addresses should be avoided for a few different reasons. Using ‘Name @ Company Name’ is a) more friendly and b) makes it much easier for potential customers to contact you with questions.

I’ve even known companies who have several different employees answering customer support queries invent a single persona to replace their old noreply@ address to make their services seem more consistent, as opposed to passing people from rep to rep.

You could even choose to go one step further and manually send emails at key points in the funnel. For example, a CEO I worked with recently manually sent out personalized emails to lapsed users asking what the company could do differently.

The open and click rates of these very personal emails were absurdly high and suggest that people still react well to the personal touch.

Final Thoughts

A lot of marketers get frightened when you mention personalized marketing. I think they envision hours spent writing letters to every single potential customer out there and licking the stamps themselves.

As long as you have a modern CRM, e-commerce and/or email system in place, you probably already have most of the tools and data you need to start experimenting with personalized marketing.

If your competitors are big corporate behemoths, a bit of savvy email personalization and/or cart abandonment promotions could be an excellent way to bump up sales and build brand loyalty in the process.

Even if you’re not the Queen!

Had any success, or a complete nightmare, experimenting with personalized marketing? Please let us know in the comments – I’d love to hear your stories.

Art is a freelance copywriter/content marketer based in the UK. He's worked with both startups and large corporations on topics ranging from fitness to tech and business issues.

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