Personalized newsletters: get closer to your customers

Newsletter and e-mails are very effective marketing tools as they provide the perfect opportunity to personally address customers and present them with customized content. Most marketers personalize their content since it’s difficult to compete with the number of newsletters that land in customers’ inboxes daily. Many of these won’t even be opened let alone read. If you want to get a reader’s attention, you need to customize your campaign to them. We have some tips for how to perfect your personalization.

Why should I personalize my newsletter?

Most people are exposed to huge amounts of advertisements, both online and offline, on a daily basis. This tidal wave of information proves to be strong competition for every marketing campaign. The advantage of e-mail marketing: you’ve already made it into the user’s inbox! Although this doesn’t necessarily mean anything since people ignore information that isn’t relevant to them. But if you address someone personally, the probability of catching their attention is much higher. By using information you know about the user, you can personalize the content and provide them with added value.

The aim of personalized e-mails is to:

  • Provide relevance
  • Increase click-through rate
  • Increase the probability of a conversion
  • Improve the performance of an e-mail marketing campaign
  • Improve the customer relationship on a long-term basis

Start at the registration

The first step is to actually get the customer to subscribe to the newsletter and add them to your e-mail list. In order to clear the first hurdle, you should try to communicate value to the customer as early on as the registration. You have to make it crystal clear as to what the benefits and advantages are of registering and receiving the newsletter.

But how do you actually achieve this? First of all, you should only promise what you can deliver. If you promise the user special offers and campaigns, you can’t then send out newsletters with empty content. To be able to deliver the right offers and incentives, you should let the subscriber decide for themselves what kind of e-mails and the content they want to receive when they register. The best option is to provide various topics and newsletter types to choose from. Having an idea of what the user wants is especially valuable when no information about their previous purchases is known.

Personalized subject lines

Once you make it into the user’s inbox, the next hurdle is the subject line. This is the deciding factor for whether the user opens the e-mail or not. Marketers don’t have a very big character allowance to win their customers over. Users typically open what they consider trustworthy and what arouses their curiosity. A very simple way to get their attention is to use their name since this will grab them faster than any other kind of content. In addition to personalized e-mails or personalized subject lines, you should combine the e-mail with a user action – like our examples show.

Action Example
Shopping in-store Thank you for your order, Mrs. Smith
Request (e.g. submit a rating) Thomas, we need you!
Special offers Maria, you can now save 77%!
Congratulations Happy birthday, Mr. Wilson!
Reactivation Mike, your $20 coupon is waiting for you!

What’s important here is reliable subscriber information. If their name is written incorrectly, is missing, or they’ve been given the wrong title, they won’t read the e-mail. The sender address is also an integral part in attracting attention and creating trust as it’s one of the first things the user lays their eyes on. No matter how interesting and personalized the newsletter is, if the sender name or address look untrustworthy, the e-mail will be binned.

Appropriate customer approach

What about when it comes to addressing the readers? The personal approach is now commonplace and the phrase ‘it’s not what you say, but how you say it’ has never been more apt. The topic and target group determine how the e-mail should be addressed. The safest option is ‘Mr. / Mrs. + surname’ since using first names is not always appropriate and is usually reserved for long-term and close customer relationships.

But what happens when contact details are incomplete? Missing or incorrect information can usually be filtered out by most newsletter software solutions and these recipients will receive the impersonal ‘Dear Sir/Madam’ greeting. You should avoid parentheses (e.g. Dear customer(s)) as they interrupt the reading flow.

Ways to address personalized newsletters:

Type of address Information available Example
Formal, impersonal title Missing/incomplete contact details Dear Sir/Madam
Nouns Missing/incomplete contact details Shopper, traveler
Surname Name known Good morning, Mrs. Smith
First name Name known, long-term customer relationship Hello Maria

Appropriate content and CTAs

You should adapt content as much as possible to your pre-defined recipient groups. In addition to the text and appropriate choice of article, you need to choose your images and graphics wisely. The aesthetics of a newsletter have a huge impact on how well it performs overall. Not all designs are perceived the same; they vary based on factors like age, gender, and interests. A positive impact on click-through rate has been noted when businesses decide to make a newsletter for women and another one for men.

CTAs (Call-to-Actions) are another way of personalizing newsletters. They help to obtain more information and data so that future e-mails can be more accurately personalized since they’re ideally connected with an active request. How the user reacts (whether they like a Facebook page or participate in a survey or giveaway) can give you valuable information about their motives and goals.

Trigger e-mails

Trigger e-mails are based on events and play a big part when it comes to e-mail personalization. These primarily include e-mails that are sent out on special occasions such as birthdays or holidays like Christmas. These newsletters are connected with different modes of acquisition depending on the subscriber. They can be individually customized through the address, content, and even at what times they’re sent out.

Trigger e-mails can be sent out when new products are available that are similar to what a user has purchased in the past. Trigger e-mails are also used during retargeting and are always sent at specific moments, i.e. when an order hasn’t been completed, or the customer hasn’t shopped for a certain number of days. The aim is to reactivate the customer and these messages are often sent automatically according to a predetermined time pattern. A good example is consumable items, where it’s easy to predict when there’s a need for supply.

You can find more information on the right time to send out newsletters in our Digital Guide article.

Segmentation is essential

In an ideal world, each user would receive a completely individual and personalized newsletter. But this is difficult to achieve, especially when it comes to content. Even the most established team of editors would find it a challenge to provide that many different versions of content. So it’s a better idea to form groups of customers and to segment recipients.

The basis for this is your database, which should hold different information about your different subscribers. The data obtained can be used to see patterns and then form typical types of customers based on these findings. Segmentation can range from simple classifications such as gender, age, and place of residence, to more detailed grading. The information that is especially important for marketers with anything to do with e-mail, web-related behavior, and shopping behavior. If you have data regarding what the customer has already purchased or what’s on their wish list, you’re well on your way to personalizing their newsletter.

Conclusion: personalization is key

Data and facts give marketers important clues on how to personalize a newsletter, but you should always create yours with the target group in mind. With the correct strategy and the right content and themes, personalized e-mail marketing should improve your customer relationship by providing your readership with more value.

In addition to personal touch, there are also other factors that determine the success or failure of a campaign. You can read more details in our guide to successful e-mail marketing.

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