As easy as it is to automate email marketing, it's just as easy to seem cold and remote. A great email marketing program makes customers feel like you're emailing them personally and care about their individual needs more than making the sale.
How Cisco Got Personal
Cisco's web conferencing service, WebEx, discovered the value of personalized emails. Using data-driven metrics, they noticed huge spikes in engagement when customers were offered free webinars. A little digging revealed they responded particularly well to e-learning webinars.
At that point, WebEx decided to plan e-learning seminars around the release of new training programs. Using targeted and personalized email marketing, WebEx saw a 30 percent increase in its email response rate and an 8 percent increase in e-learning application sales (Tweet This!).
You're probably thinking that Cisco is a huge company with the time and resources to develop such a campaign, but it's not difficult or expensive to apply these techniques to your business, no matter how big or small.
My company recently began targeting leaders within organizations with content tailored to their industry and role. We've seen increased responses and close rates, and you can, too. It just requires a little personalization.
Personalizing your company's emails will increase every measurable metric because personal emails provide real value to customers. The more valuable your message, the more they will want to engage. Here are a few easy ways to personalize your email campaigns:
1. Give away free stuff
But not just any free stuff. Share a relevant whitepaper or webinar. Provide a tool that will help customers accomplish their goals. This isn't the time for direct selling. That comes later.
2. Find the perfect time to send
There's no greater email sin than sending a message at the wrong time (Tweet This!). Mid-week and mid-afternoon tend to get great response rates. On Mondays, people are focused. On Fridays, they're headed to the beach. Make sure you track this for yourself, though. Every industry is different, and it's possible your customers like emails on Sunday afternoons. Once you find your optimal time, you'll be amazed at how your response rates improve.
3. Keep it short
Your customers are busy. When was the last time you devoured an inbound email from a company? A few paragraphs can get your point across without losing their attention.
4. Keep it simple
Not every email has to be part of a big campaign. A simple message from the CEO goes a long way toward creating a personal connection that will keep the customer coming back after initially signing up. Tools like the autoresponder feature in MailChimp can completely automate this step, but it will still feel personal to the customer (Tweet This!).
5. Measure everything
Tools like Signals let you see forwards, opens, responses, and clicks. You can specifically see what people respond to and adjust your campaigns accordingly. This is what Cisco did, and it saw a significant increase in sales.
Email is the go-to form of marketing for many companies because it's affordable, scalable, and measurable. And, best of all, you don't have to be a huge corporation to see huge returns. But to see a return on investment, your campaign must be highly personalized so the customer feels a strong connection to your company.
Author Bio: Rob Biederman is the co-founder and CEO of HourlyNerd, a service that connects businesses to top MBA students and alumni to solve critical business problems at affordable prices. Throughout his career, he's consulted with companies such as Omaha Steaks, American Apparel, and Michael's Craft Stores on their retail marketing projects. Connect with Rob on Twitter and Google+.