Have you ever been a regular at a local diner? There’s something so comforting about the familiarity of being a regular. You’re greeted with friendly smiles, salutations by name, and a keen understanding of your habits.
There are times where that familiarity can get a little too close for comfort, though. Like, if your regular server is suddenly privy to your home address or habits outside of the diner that you didn’t disclose—yikes! Wave those red flags.
Personalization in sales emails is no different. Your customers and prospects will appreciate the fine attention to detail, understanding their needs, and use of their name. It’s when you overstep these boundaries that the alarm bells starts blaring.
So, let’s look at a few ways to make your emails familiar, without coming off like the paparazzi.
1. Write to a persona
Most likely, you’re marketing to clients that fall into similar categories, whether it be by job type, income, or interest. Instead of spending time mining information for a single person (and coming off as a little too interested in the process), think about the needs of your customers as groups.
Create personas for each major category of your sales list and write to their individual needs.
2. Segment your list
It’s difficult to make a one-size-fits-all message feel personal. Proper segmentation of your email list enables you to adjust your messaging for each unique group on your email list. For instance, you may have a different offer for someone who has never been a customer than for a former customer of your business.
Marketing automation makes segmentation a breeze. You can automatically update contact fields – like their status or their lead source. Tags can be automatically added based on a contact’s actions, like visiting a specific webpage or clicking a unique email link.
3. Focus on their problem
While it’s easy to spend a lot of time introducing yourself, your company, and your services—most people aren’t interested in that. They want to know what you can do for them.
Quickly and concisely delve into the problem you have perceived and will solve. Often, they may not realize it was a problem to begin with!
Of course, you’ll want to introduce yourself and your company, but understand that it is less important than problem-solving. Keep your introductions brief.
4. Use their name organically
Even if you’re a beginner to personalizing email content, you’ve probably used the automated content features on your marketing email service to add your customer’s name to the greeting of the email.
What can make things feel far more natural is to throw their name in a couple more times. Think about how you naturally speak to people. When we try to emphasize a point or show your sincerity, it’s not uncommon to make direct eye contact and say their name, right?
Well, we can use the automated content feature to create emails with a similar feel.
Try to pick two places (three if your content is lengthy) to emphasize their name throughout the copy. Don’t shoehorn it in, though, make sure the use is sincere.
5. Use key details but don’t make assumptions
This is a tricky one when using personas. You’ll want to use specific information that is related to your topic. Some marketers like to take it a step further and talk about things in broad generalizations—for example, if you’re talking to a segment of people from Saint Louis, you might mention a recent Blue’s win.
The thing is, that can derail the conversation for three different reasons:
- It’s jarring to have a stranger try to talk to you about your interests in a professional email—it comes off as too familiar.
- When you’re using personas, you have no idea if that person even likes baseball.
- It’s honestly a little cheesy, like talking to a cashier about the weather.
If you went to an event together, talk about that. If you know about a current event that is troubling their industry, talk about that. If you have noticed fantastic growth in their company, yes, talk about that.
Talk about the information that is related to their industry or your shared experiences. If it looks like you’ve snooped around on their social media for details, you’ll come off as a bit creepy.
6. Send the email at the best time
An aspect of personalization that a lot of people don’t think about is, when is the best time to send an email?
If you work with clients on both coasts, it’s best to determine when to send each email and set it up with your email management service. Right Inbox allows you to schedule emails to ensure your emails arrive in your clients inbox at the right time. Analyze the lists that you have sent to in the past that are in similar industries and geographic locations. Take a look at when your open rates were the most successful and use that as a guide to set your send times.
If you don’t have that past information, the consensus is 10 a.m. their local time. Try not to send it first thing on Monday morning, or you’ll get lost in the shuffle. Keep experimenting from there until you find the perfect send time.
7. Don’t overthink it
Finally, it’s easy to go a little overboard with personalization. Keep your personalized aspects short, sweet, and with purpose. If you craft your emails with careful planning, you should be able to customize a few key elements and still have a great sounding email.
The ideal personalized email is one that can be used as a boilerplate for automated sending but retain its human voice. It takes some experimentation, but with time and testing, you’ll find the special sauce that works for you.
****This is a guest post from Jonathan Herrick. Jonathan is the CEO, Co-Founder and Chief High-Fiver at Hatchbuck, an all-in-one sales and marketing automation platform based in St. Louis. ****