eCommerce Insiders

Email Personalization: How to Transform Your Stale Email Campaigns

Email marketing.

In eCommerce circles, email marketing is a crucial top-of-funnel marketing tool, so it’s important to make sure that every subscriber email is produced correctly.

Some say that email is a dying media, but others say that it’s here to stay. It’s interesting to note that those who say that it’s a dying form of marketing media are usually those who have failed in realizing good ROI from email.

Having said this, brands who notice poor or non-existent ROIs are those who haven’t mastered email personalization, clinging on to out-dated practices that aren’t working anymore!

Here’s three solid reasons why advertising-style emails don’t work, and more to the point, why your prospective customers are deleting your emails before they bother to open them.

People Want to be Talked-To, Not Talked-At:

Retail emails are usually jammed-packed full of calls-to-action, hyperbole, and over-the-top features that are all designed to grab the reader’s attention.

But people don’t want to be patronized into making a decision. They want to read communication that speaks others aspects of their senses beyond sight (Look at this! Pay attention to this! Have you seen this? Tell your friends to look at this!).

Ginny Soskey of Hubspot writes about how bothersome these type of emails are:

Chances are, your email newsletter subscribers don’t want to hear about your products and services 100% of the time. While they may love you and want to hear from you, there’s only so much shilling you can do before they tune out.

We Live in a Relationship-Based Society

In the advertising-driven days (think of the Mad Men era and 20 years beyond), consumers took their cues from advertisers, and they didn’t ask very many questions.

This created a very sterile buying environment for advertisers who as an industry didn’t have to bother with building relationships with consumers. They simply steered the consumer with their advertising copy in the right direction, then told the consumer what to do.

The entire process was very cold, efficient, and for a time, it worked!

But then, as the century changed, sensibilities changed with it.

Suddenly, we found ourselves in a world where consumers want to feel connection. They want to feel connected and emotionally invested in the brands they financially support.

And more to the point, consumers want to feel that the brands that they support actually care about their well-being, their lifestyle, and how the brand’s offerings play a part in a consumers lifestyle.

The brands who get this and understand this create story-rich content in their emails, and their emails convert very well. The brands who still use advertising-era tactics will find that their emails will be deleted, and the email subscriber will quickly unsubscribe from receiving any messages at all!

Consumers Need to Realize a Clearly Beneficial Motivator, and Quickly!

One of the primary questions that burns in the mind of any consumer is this:

What’s in this for me?

Again, retail brands not only have to identify how their product or service offerings will benefit the consumer’s lifestyle, but their marketing teams (via their copywriters) need to highlight these factors quickly.

Can you get this done immediately? If so, then all the better!

When the email subscriber looks at the subject line of the email, they need to be able to immediately discern that the email copy contains life-enhancing information. Leading with coy or confusing subject lines isn’t going to cut it.

And the body of the marketing email had better deliver on the promise of the subject line, too!

How to Compose Emails That Actually Get Opened

Now that you have some insight why your email subscribers aren’t responding to your message, here’s an anatomy of how to get your marketing team to compose a friendly email that will get opened, just about every time:

1. The Subject Line is Inviting and Drives the Email Objective

“You won’t want to miss it!”

This isn’t good enough. How about creating a subject line that reads like it’s being sent from the recipient’s friend or family member?

When a marketing email subject line is compared to a personal subject line, the personal email will be opened every time. Why? Because it contains:

  • Messaging that is perceived as important to the recipient,
  • It answers a question or it resolves a problem,
  • It creates warm and fuzzy feelings in the heart of the email recipient.

In other words, there’s a natural flow of emotion between personal contacts, and this is why their exchanged emails are perceived as a priority (and marketing emails aren’t).

2. The Email Offers a Gimme as a Thank-You Offering

Note that there are plenty of ways to offer a gimme that goes beyond anything tangible or financial.

For example, producing email copy that educates or stimulates ideas are wonderful gimmes. Consumers are always looking for creative ways to integrate your products (or services) into their lives in a way that’s practical, easy to implement, and makes sense.

Ginny speaks about why she appreciates and enjoys educational copy:

I have a thing for shoes, and I especially love this one shoe site. I willingly opted in to the company’s email list, but it now sends me emails 2-3 times a day to buy, buy, buy … and when I see it’s sender name pop up in my inbox, I want to scream.

If they sent me educational content — maybe about the latest styles of shoes, or how to pair certain styles with certain outfits — I might be more inclined to buy from them, or at least start opening their emails again.

…In your email newsletters, get rid of the self-promotion (most of the time) and focus on sending your subscribers educational, relevant, timely information. Unless you actually have an exciting, big piece of news about your product, service, or company, leave out the promotional parts.

But if you’d like to offer your email subscribers discounts, coupons, upgrades, or referral bonuses, then these never hurt, either. Just be sure to share your offerings in a way that’s warm.

Your offerings should feel like a thank-you gift (instead of yet another incentivized marketing function on your to-do list).

3. The Email Copy Matches the Brand’s Demographic

This goes back to investing in great relationship building with your audience. If you’ve done a good job in building a relationship, then your marketing team has developed a keen sense of who your demographic audience is.

And if your marketing team is properly armed with this information, then they should have no problem with crafting email copy that’s relatable and easily digested by the target audience.

It’s easy for people to say that email marketing is dead if they don’t understand how to make it work!

Your brand can become the smart company that invests time into the type of personalization that will render the results you’re looking for.

Terri Scott

Terri is a content marketing storyteller and strategist. She teaches marketing and entrepreneurship through stories for marketers of all stripes. Her specialty is creating narrative and she writes essays and memoir in her spare time.

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