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Personalize for Profit

  |  August 9, 2004   |  Comments

Take personalization to the next level, in ways consumers will appreciate.

E-mail marketers have a powerful tool to increase conversions and profits, yet it’s grossly underutilized. In a recent Jupiter Research (a Jupitermedia Corp. division) Webinar, analyst David Daniels presented statistics that show personalization is in its infancy:

  • Only 4 percent of marketers personalized messages.

  • Of marketers who do personalize, 76 percent use five data points or less in the personalization process.

Further, Daniels said, "Personalizing and segmenting email initiatives will help email marketers stand out from the clutter and ultimately drive sales."

This suggests personalization is potentially email marketing’s Holy Grail. Remember -- personalization doesn’t refer to simple tactics, such as displaying a person’s first name in the message. It refers to a strategy of really integrating personalization to drive response.

Let’s discuss how to correctly implement personalization in email.

In tests we’ve conducted, simply inserting a person’s first name into an email shows a lift in open rates and CTRs by as much as 10 percent, but after that it’s all downhill. Conversion rates for name-only personalization actually drop when tested against control email without personalization. Why?

When recipients see their name in an email, they expect more. They expect additional personalization, perhaps a customized offer, or the name and address of a local store or dealer. When there’s nothing else, they’re disappointed. They feel perhaps you were misleading them, causing conversions to drop.

Good personalization involves more than just a name. It can also include references to:

  • Recent purchases

  • Past purchases

  • Hometown or region name

  • People who are like the recipient

  • Services about to expire

Let’s examine such higher-level personalization techniques can be used to increase profits by as much as 50 to 500 percent.

Recent Purchases

You recently purchased a comforter at Domestications.com. After you received and enjoyed it for a week or so, wouldn’t it be nifty to get a personalized email that references the purchase and suggests related items? How about including a photo of your new purchase with color-matching items and offering a coupon to redeem online or at the store? Perhaps include the recipient’s name right on the coupon.

Past Purchases

Two months ago, you purchased a case of printer paper at Staples.com. Figuring typical usage, wouldn’t it be nice to get a personalized email along these lines:

You purchased printer paper from us about two months ago. We figured you might be running low. We’re happy to deliver two more cases this week at a special low price of $19.95 per case, and we won’t charge for shipping.

We also have on file the fact you own an HP LaserJet 5p printer. Here’s a coupon for one free toner cartridge when you buy two. Simply click below if you want to add this to your order.

Finally, perhaps you can give us the names and email addresses of others in your company who order office supplies. We’d love to offer them the same level of service we give you.

Need something in person? Our store at 94th and 4th is open from 7:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Have a great, productive day.

Hometown or Region Name

Let’s say you’re enrolled in your pharmacy’s program. It not only has your email and name but also knows your prescriptions. Wouldn’t it be great to get an email like this:

We just received next week’s allergy report for the St. Petersburg area. Pollen and mold are expected to be off the charts. So you’re prepared, we have specials this week on several of the most popular allergy remedies. Click the prescription below you want, and we’ll have it ready for you -- just let us know below when you plan to stop by.

Also, we realize you may be running low on the meds listed below. We have an auto-fill program so you don’t have to remember to order refills. Click here to learn more.

You can pick up the allergy medication at your local store on Ocean Parkway at 32nd Avenue.

Have a great, allergy free day.

People Like the Recipient

Amazon.com is the king of this, but I wonder why more folks haven’t imitated its legendary "Customers who bought [X” also bought [Y”." Certainly, if your database is robust enough, this is avenue has been proven to work.

Services About to Expire

Every year, my colleague up north has to remember to call the local sprinkler company to have his sprinkler system flushed out and turned on. Wouldn’t it be nice if he received an email reminding him of this, and that helped set an appointment? We all have seasonal and annual services we forget about; vendors who don’t follow up are leaving money on the table.

Another related area is services we should avail ourselves of, based on purchases or other services. Having just purchased deck-building materials, would I be receptive to an email offering deck cleaning and sealing services a year from now? You bet I would.

There you have it. Lots of ways to take personalization to the next level, in meaningful ways consumers will appreciate.

Keep reading...

Want more email marketing information? ClickZ E-Mail Reference is an archive of all our email columns, organized by topic.

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Paul Soltoff

Paul Soltoff is the chief executive officer of SendTec, Inc., a direct marketing services company specializing in customer acquisition. SendTec combines extensive direct response experience with proprietary technologies to produce scalable results. Principal services include performance-based online marketing, offline direct response marketing and direct response television. SendTec represents advertising agencies and advertisers such as RealNetworks, AARP, Monster.com, AAA, Punch Software, MyPoints, Grey Worldwide, CosmetÍque Cosmetics, Columbia House, and Euro-Pro. Prior to starting SendTec, Paul was a founder and EVP of Saatchi and Saatchi's DRTV division in New York and has over 25 years of advertising, media and direct marketing experience.

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