personalized emails

How to Increase Engagement with Personalized Emails

More than 205 billion emails are sent and received each day, and the average person receives more than 400 commercial emails each month. With so much action going on inside inboxes these days, have you ever stopped to consider how people decide which emails to open first?

Messages from friends, family, and coworkers clearly rise to the top. But beyond that, research shows that personalized emails have much higher open rates and engagement rates than generic messages.

The concept for sending personalized email marketing messages was pioneered by retailers and brand marketers. The retail industry has spent years honing in on the best email marketing strategies, with well-crafting pitches sent to consumers at optimal times. According to data from Forrester Research, 70% of the “top email clutter generators” are retailers. Just because retailers have the most experience with email marketing, though, doesn’t mean they have a monopoly on using the latest strategies to encourage customer engagement.

Digital publishers can easily use many of the same strategies pioneered by retail marketers to boost engagement rates with their own email newsletters.

Personalized emails are one of the easiest email marketing strategies to replicate. A personalized email is a message sent by a business using subscriber data to generate more relevant offers or deliver more positive communication experiences. The concept here can be more or less sophisticated, depending on the publisher’s interest and type of information they have at hand. At its most basic level, sending personalized emails might mean sending an email with the recipient’s name in the subject line. Or, a publisher might send a newsletter with content that’s based on the recipient’s personal interests. At the other end of the spectrum, advanced marketing tactics involve changing the content of an email message based on a subscriber’s age, gender, or location.

Consumer researchers have found that people prefer emails that are personalized over impersonal messages by a large margin. According to a recent study by Formation, 81% of consumers say they will share personal information to get more personalized emails, and 50% will pay a premium to get that experience.

If you’re a digital publisher with a subscription program, you probably already have all the information you need about your subscribers to start sending personalized emails. A few examples of the types of information that’s useful here are:

  • Subscriber’s name
  • Subscriber’s birthdate
  • Subscriber’s favorite topics or subject areas

With this information, you can easily start including the subscriber’s name in the subject line of emails you send out. You could also send a special birthday message on your subscribers’ birthdays.

Publishers who send weekly email newsletters or email digests have even more options for sending personalized emails. For example, publishers can ask subscribers to opt-in to section-specific newsletters, highlighting the best stories from a certain section of the publication (like sports or breaking news) each week.

The best time to obtain the information needed to send personalized emails is during the initial sign-up process. Ask readers a few basic questions when they are subscribing as a way to get to know them better, like which topics they are most interested in or what time of day they’d prefer to receive your publication’s newsletters.

Most email marketing automation platforms include features for collecting and storing additional information about subscribers. Mailchimp, Constant Contact, and Campaign Monitor are a few of the popular email marketing platforms used by digital publishers, but there are dozens of great options out there. In addition to opening the door to new types of personalization, the right email automation platform can improve efficiency for publishers who don’t have the time to manually develop segmented mailing lists and personalized email content.

Publishers who send personalized emails are richly rewarded for their efforts. Personalized campaigns are a proven way to increase open rates, click-through rates, and email engagement. Research has shown that emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened than those without. If you’re a publisher who is concerned about churn, it’s also worth noting that 33% of people say personalized emails cause them to stick with a brand (or publisher) for longer.

As a best practice, publishers should be looking for opportunities to cater to their subscribers’ interests through audience segmentation. One-size-fits-all email campaigns just don’t work in a day and age where people expect highly targeted content.

If you would like to learn more about developing the kind of email marketing program that drives engagement, reach out to our team at Web Publisher PRO.