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How to Personalize Email Marketing

01/12/2017
As competition in today’s noisy, technology driven world gives way to constant disruption and disintermediation, brands find themselves vying for hospitality and travel market share. Within this volatile landscape, marketers remain loyal to email. The reasoning is clear —email delivers better ROI than any other channel. According to a Mckinsey study, email is 40 times more effective than Facebook and Twitter combined when it comes to acquiring customers. Heinz Tschabitscher and Lifewire completed a study that showed more than 205 billion emails are sent daily. In an oversaturated digital world, personalization has become a well-recognized and highly discussed term in the hospitality industry. Only the savviest marketers will understand that digital media is no longer static. While personalization is not a new idea in the marketing arena, it is key in order to drive business value and strategically market to the vast and eclectic market of online consumers. This involves a dynamic use of customizable content matched with each customer’s unique preferences. Many marketers shy away from personalization, assuming a complete re-organization of the brand’s database is required. In reality, integrating the following personalization strategies into any brand’s email marketing campaigns will ultimately drive increased customer-satisfaction, interaction, awareness and overall brand loyalty.
 
If emails aren't relevant to its receivers, it's no surprise they'll end up in the trash. Today's consumers are bombarded with information as marketers look for ways to cut through the clutter in order to reach audiences. In the age of personalization and hyper-targeting, consumers expect brands to know who they are and provide them with content that they care about. Mass-market campaigns are a thing of the past. Larger-than-life billboards, mass mailings and blanket digital ads are no longer effective business strategies. One size fits all content should be avoided to allow content to address the specific needs and concerns of consumers. A Janrain study reported that 74 percent of online consumers feel frustrated with digital content that appears to have nothing to do with their interests. (Remember, consumers like feeling as though the brand knows who they are!) Segmenting marketing personas in email campaigns has shown to generate 58 percent of all revenue according to the National Client Email Report from DMA. Consider gender, age, interests, transactional data, rewards members, loyalists... Today's marketers need an efficient way to group customers by demographic information, purchase history, and even browsing activity. From this information, it’s possible to tailor email messaging to specific groups. As businesses grow, it becomes increasingly difficult to give one-to-one attention to each consumer. This is where email automation comes into play. Marketers can easily create workflows to send personalized, relevant emails to customers at the right time. Accessible, modern email platforms enable digital marketers to do this.
 
At its core, personalization means connecting with a human voice. But when it comes to email marketing, it's a bit of a paradox, as the purpose of automation is to communicate with customers at scale. Emails must be "from" an actual human or employee, not a company. Instead of having the email be from "Company X", "The Company X Team", make it the name of a current member of your team. By humanizing the brand and focusing on individualized interactions, personalization efforts through humanizing have proven to be an effective method to developing brand reputation and loyalty. Personalized email marketing improves click-through rates by an average of 14 percent and conversions by 10 percent, according to Kim Stiglitz’s Campignmonitor.com study. The first step is to use the recipient's real name in the message. A name is the easiest and simplest way to gather intelligence (when an email list form is filled out, a name and email address is already enough to get started on personalization). A step further, email subject lines that are personalized with a recipient's first name can increase open rates by 16 percent. Being on a first name basis will resonate with an individual, and provide a feeling that the company is paying attention.
 
Sending the right emails to the right people at the right time is simply not the end game. The layout of an HTML email is critical for where consumers’ focus is directed. Emails must have a degree of 'usability', meaning the quality of the user experience. This includes email architecture, navigation structure, footer navigation, the logical flow of information, call to action and quick links.
 
Brands must drive consumers down the funnel to a call to action, resulting in a purchase. Email marketers must work hand in hand with conversion rate optimizers to create dedicated landing pages for specific email marketing campaigns. Links in emails may directly lead to the content page of a brand’s website, but what if the link leads to a landing page developed specifically for the product, promotion or special offer mentioned in the email? These links are call-to-action strategies. There are a few things to think about when implementing call-to-action functions into email marketing campaigns. The placement, design and language are all crucial to drive success. Where is the best place to put a call to action? Think about the audience. Will they quickly understand the purpose of the email? If yes, place a call to action above the fold so they do not have scroll through the email to see the call to action. If the email requires some explanation, a call to action at the end of the email would make the most sense. Regardless, the call to action must stand out. Design decisions must be made to encourage consumers to click. Stiglitz also tells us that hyperlinks are an email marketing turnoff — using a button rather than a hyperlink can increase conversion rates by 28 percent. Knowing your particular segment will help when customizing the language of a call to action, one that encourages purchase should have copy such as, "Book your winter getaway now!" Calls to action encouraging content engagement, may sound like "read more" or "Get The App!" It is also essential to push social if they add value to your brand, like "Follow Us!" or "Like us on Facebook".
 
Landing pages must pass what is commonly known as the 3 second scan. Most users will decide whether to stay on a page or abandon it in less than 5 seconds. What does that mean for email marketing? First, it means the page must load quickly. Users also need to be able to know what the offer is and what message is being conveyed within seconds of opening the email. How can this be done? By keeping it simple.
About The Author
Boston University




Tal Chesed, Celina Friedman, Natalie Mazouz, Vivian Wu, Andrea Soto

Special thanks to Leora Lanz's Digital Marketing for Hospitality class at the Boston University School of Hospitality Administration for providing this series for our readers.

This is the first article in a total of five articles in this series.

 
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