Email Personalization: 3 Tactics That Maximize Results
What happens when you combine all the case studies about personalization and customization from two research facilities focused on marketing? In addition to acquiring more than 100 creative samples and 300 pages of data, you get to determine where the sweet spot is for personalization based on return on investment and the amount of effort/ability to personalize, with or without automated systems.
Let me back up and talk to you about the two companies. Meclabs Institute is the largest independent research facility focused on how people make choices. MarketingSherpa is a research institute specializing in tracking what works in all aspects of marketing. They wanted to answer the questions of what aspects of personalization have the strongest ROI, and, perhaps of even greater importance, must a company have an automated marketing system to achieve the strongest ROI.
Simply put, the answer is that there are three aspects of personalization that, when combined in an e-marketing campaign, achieve the greatest ROI. And, for all the organizations out there that do not have an automated-marketing system at their fingertips, there’s evidence that they can still achieve this maximized ROI.
If you want to watch the video of them discussing the study, click here. But for those of you not into “interview videos,” here is the key graphic (that shows the “sweet spot”) and the highlights of the study:
- The goal was to find the personalization that drove the highest amount of ROI at the least “potential energy investment” (aka automated-marketing technology).
- The companies found three tactics for personalization that, when present, created increased ROI.
- Furthermore, they found that organizations could double or even triple the ROI by combining the tactics into a single campaign.
- Relative to automated-marketing technology, they found that companies that used multiple personalization tactics in a single campaign were just as successful, even with “simple segmentation” versus complex technology.
Now, if you are thinking they have uncovered something earth shattering that no one has considered—well, you are wrong. But, what this tells me is that the basics are so important and cannot be overlooked. Plus, since I watched this video a few weeks ago, I have been monitoring my email communication from the organizations I support.
What kills me is that as much as I say these are the “basics,” very few of the email communications I received used these tactics. Clearly that is going to be a topic for another blog—why aren’t we doing the basics in e-marketing.
Here are the three tactics they found:
- There is a very simple acknowledgement of a recent relationship between the individual and the brand. This included the acknowledgement of the status of the relationship—new customer, lapsed customer (yes, you read that correctly) or recent customer.
- There is an acknowledgment of a recent area of interest or preference. And, listen up, nonprofits: Some of the case studies actually had Web experiences that “forced” the individual to provide pertinent information (two to three items, with one being an email address) before he or she could enter the site. I know some of you are rolling your eyes right now, and others are saying, “Oh no, we can’t do that because we are here to provide information.” Well, there is a lot of insight out there that says this is not a problem for people as long as the information being asked for is relevant to the overall brand experience. One of the case studies was a dog website where the company required an email address and the size of the dog (small, medium, large or extra large) before entering the site. This created an opportunity to provide information that was specific to each individual’s animal’s size needs. This can play out in so many ways for nonprofits with varying missions, and clearly when asked and used the right way, it is successful.
- There is an acknowledgement of a recent event. In the commercial world, this could be a cart-abandonment, recent purchase, etc. In the nonprofit world, there are just as many options—a recent gift, volunteer experience, event registration, e-newsletter sign-up. The key here is to make this simple, fast and not “creepy.” Again, this is a simple acknowledgement and not something that gets drawn into a deep conversation.
“Why in the world is this so basic and so easy and it gets such great results?” Jon Powell, senior manager of executive research and development for Meclabs Institute, asked in the video. His answer—consumers are “hungry” for personalization. My answer—we are not capturing some of this simple data, and even if we are, we are not using it to maximum advantage in our emails. I can tell you from my email inbox, which gets flooded with communications from my nonprofit relationships—this is not happening.
Vice President, Strategy & Development
Eleventy Marketing Group
Angie is ridiculously passionate about EVERYTHING she’s involved in — including the future and success of our nonprofit industry.
Angie is a senior exec with 25 years of experience in direct and relationship marketing. She is a C-suite consultant with experience over the years at both nonprofits and agencies. She currently leads strategy and development for marketing intelligence agency Eleventy Marketing Group. Previously she has worked at the innovative startup DonorVoice and as general manager of Merkle’s Nonprofit Group, as well as serving as that firm’s CRM officer charged with driving change within the industry. She also spent more 14 years leading the marketing, fundraising and CRM areas for two nationwide charities, The Arthritis Foundation and the American Cancer Society. Angie is a thought leader in the industry and is frequent speaker at events, and author of articles and whitepapers on the nonprofit industry. She also has received recognition for innovation and influence over the years.