Personalization is a double-edged sword, especially when it comes to email marketing. In more cases than we’d like to admit, it’s known for its clunky (and somewhat basic) use of displaying the <First Name> in the subject line, paired with other less than engaging ad-libs throughout the copy. In fact, some marketing efforts remind me of those old ‘ad-lib story books’, where you’d randomly input nouns or adjectives which in turn would generate comical and nonsensical stories. Funny? Yes. Good practice for a high performing email campaign? No.

Outside of the fact this approach seems lazy and irrelevant, it turns out that 75% of consumers find personalization “somewhat” creepy, according to the latest InMoment study. Even worse, 1 in 5 people surveyed said they’d tell a friend about a bad experience, and 10% said they’d share these experiences on social media. In a world where over 4.74 billion people use social media, that’s without doubt something marketers should be concerned about.

The good news is that marketers are evolving, and many companies are turning their attention to their deep bank of first-party data in order to deliver more consumer-friendly marketing. Now, this is all good and well, but it’s what you do with this data that really matters. While most consumers understand the trade-offs necessary for targeted marketing, they also demand (and deserve) the right kind.

If you’re looking to find out how to execute a personalization strategy in 2023, you need to focus on exclusively collecting first-party data attributes that subtly adds hyper relevance to your activation campaigns. Want to know how? Then read on.

1 | Going Beyond the <First-Name> Subject Line with Personalized Imagery

I’m not saying the use of first names is bad, quite the contrary. This can still be a vital part of your email strategy moving forward. The question is, how can you add a more empathetic touch? The secret lies within carefully thought out imagery. Let’s say we’re a Pet Insurance company sending a marketing email to our existing customers. By adjusting the hero image to a picture of a dog vs a cat (if you know what type of pet owner they are), you will instantly draw the customer in.

Is that not creepy? No. We’re not directly telling the consumer we know they have a dog, nor are we being stalkerish by showing them the exact breed. We’re simply peaking their interest with a subtle yet empathetic level of personalization to ensure the content is relevant to them.

2 | Providing the Right Value Exchange with Tailored Incentives

Think carefully about the incentives you want to provide within your email campaign and create a sense of desire. By changing the incentive based on what we know about a consumer segment, we can deliver higher engagement across the campaign. For example, perhaps we know that some of our audience prefers a percentage discount offering, versus a specific dollar-value voucher. Or, if we go even more granular than that, we may be targeting a sports fanatic who often watches sports at home and would rather win a TV in a sweepstakes instead of the chance to win tickets to a live event. We can tweak a single campaign with multiple value exchanges to ensure that it is relevant and enticing to the entire audience, not just a segment.

Is that not creepy? Not at all. The sophistication in tailoring an incentive to a desire means we’re tapping into an emotion. We aren’t telling the sports fanatic that we’re watching them and know how they consume sports at home (Big Brother vibes), however, we’re subtly ensuring what we have to offer is in line with what they find valuable.

3 | Speak Their Language (and their Values)

It’s one of the golden rules of digital marketing: speak like your audience and feed into their beliefs. Whether this is in the subject line or the email copy itself, it is good practice to subtly adjust the messaging of a campaign based on a myriad of attributes. For example, a clothing brand may know its consumers who reside on the west coast will be more likely to engage with sustainability and climate change messaging. What’s more, we may also consider that the younger consumers will respond better to emoji’s within the subject line – to either compliment the message, or add a bit of humor. With the average office worker receiving around 121 emails every single day, you want to make sure your subject line stands out from the crowd. A single campaign or touchpoint can be relevant to the entire audience simply by tweaking the content order or language.

Is that not creepy? Not at all. By layering in themes such as consumer values alongside relevant language, we can generate a message that resonates with the individual. It’s a great way of showing that your brand truly cares about the relationship with your audience, instead of just wanting their data. Again, it’s all about the value exchange.

Here are just three simple tweaks you can make to your existing (and new) email campaigns. By adding these dynamic rules to generate smart personalization, you will be certain to serve your consumers with hyper-relevant and empathetic content that steers from “creepy” and moves to a more “pleasing” sentiment.

Want to find out how we can help you with your marketing strategy? Contact me today!