eMarketing Tips: Personalization

Personalizing your emarketing items, such as newsletters, broadcasts, etc. is not new; most people who use email regularly are used to seeing their first names in email subject lines or within an email newsletter. And, if you regularly send out emails to your subscribers, you probably have remembered the “first name” merge code by heart.

But many of you may be wondering, “What is the effectiveness of personalizing my emails?” “Does it really work?” “What else can I do besides add a name to the subject line?”

According to emailstatcenter.com, “Inserting a person’s name into an email increases open rates by as much as 10%. – Jupiter Research (2006).” So it does seem that personalizing emails does have an impact, even just a little bit. But the trick is to personalize correctly.

I would bet that you have received at least one or two emails that read like the following: “For {FIRST_NAME} , free ebook covers this weekend only.”

Um, that there should be something else before that comma. Yuck.

There are a couple of instances when I recommend NOT personalizing the subject line. 1) You DO NOT require that the name field is a “required” field on your sign-up box on your website, and 2) you already have a cramped subject line slot and adding a first and/or last name or two would just be a bit too much (stick to a subject line of 56 characters or less).

By default, most programs require an email address, but you normally have to manually define other fields, including the name field, as being a “required” field in which a subscriber must enter information or they will get a reminder to input something into that particular field.

If you feel like getting fancy with personalization, there are many personalization fields to choose from and many ways to liven up your broadcasts. You can add merge codes that contain names, dates, geographic location, email address, ad categories, URL where subscriber signed up, to name a few.

Here is one example of one way you can personalize your newsletters:

One of my clients (hi Felicia!) asked that I attach a subscription management reminder at the bottom of her newsletter. Basically it reads something like, “[name], you subscribed to this publication on this [date] using this [email address].” Great idea – lends credibility and reminds your readers that you aren’t spamming them. In fact, I really liked this idea so I tried it out on my own newsletter!

Check with your shopping cart or list management program to see what other merge fields or variables you can add to liven up your publications. You can search the FAQ or support pages or do a search on their site for keywords such as “personalization” or “merge fields.” I bet you’ll get a lot of ideas just by looking!

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