In this weekly masterclass our ‘Five Ways to Master’ experts dive deep into the realms of performance marketing, with advice on how to hone specific areas of your campaigns.

It is also the final week to enter the Performance Marketing Awards Best Email Marketing Campaign – so if you feel like your email marketing ticks these five boxes then let us know and enter today!

This week SmartFocus’s Az Ahmed explores five ways to master email marketing.  

Email personalisation took a leap forward when we started to see the words ‘Hello {FirstName}’ appear at the start of an email, but that sort of personalisation has gone a bit stale with the passage of time. Now email personalisation is in the next stage of its evolution with real-time adaptable content that changes due to environmental and location based factors and uses elements such as device used, purchase history, social recommendations and preferences to deliver a truly personalised email.

1. Data, data and more data

The basis of personalisation rests on a company’s ability to gather better data in a larger quantity than ever before about its customers and potential customers. We have moved on from just collecting people’s names, now companies have the ability to collect numerous pieces of information about their customers and use that information in their email marketing.

Data should cover all marketing touchpoints across the entire customer lifecycle. Companies should be tracking this data all the time; from the first time someone comes to the website to when someone signs up to the newsletter to what pages they spent the longest time on and even which products they looked at.

2. Contextualisation

Moving on beyond newsletter signup information and gender the next level of email personalisation comes from collecting information such as past purchases and preferences and tailoring your emails using this information. Sometimes all it takes is upgrading your CRM platform to be able to start gathering this information and integrating it with your email platform so that before any email to an individual customer is sent out, the system automatically scans past purchases and preferences then changes the content of the email to show products that closely relate to the products the customer has already bought.

There is nothing more frustrating from a customer point of view in getting recommended products that they have already bought from the same company or being recommended products that they will never buy. Higher levels of contextualisation can lead to higher sales and more revenue overall. According to a study done by Econsultancy, personalisation can lead to a 14% uplift in sales.

3. Segments of one

In the early days of personalisation companies segmented their customers into groups which showed similarities such as being male or female, living in the same city or having children for example. This worked for a while until conversion rates started to drop and marketers had to find a new way to engage with their email audience.

Recently the concept of segments of one instead of segments of groups has emerged. Customers are individuals with differing needs and preferences and appreciate personal marketing. The uplift in conversion is phenomenal with sources saying that “right time marketing to the segment of one — using context, data and analytics — comes in at a 40 percent success rate”.

4. Lead nurturing

The next thing to look at after implementing contextualised segmentation of one is lead nurturing; email marketing to customers at the right time in their sales cycle. Customers get ready to buy at different times from each other. Some deliberate for a long while before taking the plunge, while others buy a product on their first visit.

With personalised email marketing now targeting individuals it is essential to find out what stage they are at. If someone receives a message about leasing a car when they haven’t even had a test drive yet, they will go somewhere else and that’ll be a lost sale. If however someone receives a timely email that pushes them to take the step they are thinking about, they will be more likely to convert. One of the ways to do this is by offering something of value at each stage instead of a hard sales pitch.

5. Real-time email personalisation

According to Experian’s 2013 Email Marketing Study, personalized promotional emails were shown to lift transaction rates and revenue per email six times higher than non-personalized emails.

Building on from this, we are now moving into the realm of real-time personalised emails where an email is personalised when it is opened, not when it is sent. So for example if an email was sent at 8am promoting umbrellas when it was overcast but the email was opened at 2pm when it was glorious sunshine, the content of the email will change to show shorts and flip flops.

Personalising emails is a must do for any company that uses email marketing. It is sometimes as simple as implementing new software or working with a leading email provider to create personalised emails that will resonate with customers and increase revenue.