With more choices than ever, customers today have the power to not just want but expect a level of personalization from the companies they do business with. At the same time, most businesses seek to acquire several types of customers, each having different motivations, backgrounds, interests, characteristics and buying behaviors. And with so many variables to deal with, combined with the need to give customers the personalized experiences they demand, the days of one-size-fits-all marketing emails are long gone.
Thankfully, email personalization is a win-win, as the results can be dramatic for businesses. As reported by Social Media Today, “82% of marketers reported an increase in open rates through email personalization, while 75% believe it yields higher click-through rates.” In my experience as a provider of email marketing data and services, basic elements like adding a prospect’s name to the email represent a good start, but customers today expect truly targeted messaging that speaks to and addresses their specific needs. And the fact is, you can’t deliver personalized emails if you don’t know the person on the receiving end.
Throughout my two-decade career, I’ve seen firsthand the success that can come when businesses take the time to know their prospects and customers. Knowing them well enables you to attract more through audience mirroring, a process of identifying prospects who share similar traits — essentially, targeting prospects who “mirror” your existing customers.
Get To Know Your Audience
To start, get to know your customers. Look at your database and consider things like the types of companies they work for, industry, location, and size of the business, as well as their individual roles, job titles, age and gender. Are there similarities or any obvious groupings?
Next, use that insight to develop personas — archetypal representations of your most prevalent customers. Personas can be based on demographic factors like age, job industry and income level, but also include qualitative information such as interests, personalities, behaviors and motivations.
Segment Your Audience For Email Personalization
It’s important to segment your audience by common traits so you can develop and test messaging specific to those groups and their interests. There are many ways you can do this, from broad to very granular. Here are four ways I’ve found most successful:
Demographics: Factors such as age, gender, income level, job title, experience level and geographic location can be used to narrow down audiences and develop targeted messages to similar prospects.
Sales Cycle: Prospects and customers have different needs and interests depending on their stage in the customer life cycle. For example, prospective customers may appreciate more information about a product or service and its benefits. Meanwhile, a campaign could be developed for current customers with information about other product offerings, service renewals or warranties.
Survey: One of the most straightforward ways to segment your audience is to ask them directly. Send a survey or add it as a field when you collect their email address on your website to organize your audience by their interests, the types of emails they would like to receive or the products/services they are most interested in.
Previous Engagement: Segment your audience based on their engagement with previous email campaigns, such as opens, clicks and A/B testing, and integrate your customer data platform (CDP) or customer relationship management (CRM) to send follow-up campaigns based on that engagement.
Once you’ve identified the common traits or behaviors, then you can speak directly to those interests and test specific words, phrases, images, colors, and more. Message testing lets you know what resonates with each audience. And with customer personas in mind, you can tailor your campaigns for each segment to address those relevant touch points to increase engagement and conversions.
Using Audience Mirroring To Grow Your Customer Base
A thorough understanding of current prospects and customers positions you for success with your acquisition email campaigns. Using results from message testing, you can attempt to mirror each segment and target new prospects with the creative messages that have performed successfully with your initial audience. This also enables you to add new marketing channels to your media mix and grow your lead generation.
I personally think it’s important to work with a trusted third-party provider for acquisition email data. Most companies simply don’t have the expertise and resources to compile and maintain data accuracy at scale. That’s why they should consider focusing on what they do best and leaving data to the experts. If you decide to go this route, I recommend choosing an email data provider that licenses data (instead of selling a one-time use list) to ensure the data is valid and consistently cleansed of hard-bounced email addresses. Not only does this enable you to grow your own email list as prospects engage with your emails over time, but it protects you from ending up on email blacklists. Look for a provider that guarantees their email validity in writing.
When setting parameters for acquisition data, make selections based on prospect data that is similar to your current customers and personas. By mirroring your existing audience, you’ll be able to jumpstart your efforts to attract like-minded prospects.
Reaching The Right Audience
In my experience, email personalization is a necessity in today’s technology-driven world. But it only works if you know your audience and are able to reach them specifically with the right message. Email segmentation enables you to do just that and achieve better results because you can deliver content that resonates. In combination, email segmentation and audience mirroring can supercharge your email marketing with stronger campaign performance that allows you to find new customers — and faster.