4 brands taking email personalization to the next level

March 3, 2016 McKenzie Gregory


In the mad chaos that is the modern inbox, you’re not just competing against other brands – you’re also competing against real people your subscribers know, like, and trust.

You’re competing against their boss, who they have to pay attention to if they want to keep their job.
You’re competing against their husband, who wants to nail down tonight’s dinner plans and make sure they've called the babysitter.  
You’re competing against their mother, who’ll get mad if they don’t respond to the 17th e-card she’s sent them this week.

So every time your recipients invest the time to open your email, they’re expecting the same kind personal experience they’d get from someone they actually know. And if they don’t get it, they’re gone – 56% of people unsubscribe from emails due to content that’s no longer relevant to them (Chadwick Martin Bailey). But when you get that subscriber experience right, it leads to major results. Relevant emails drive 18x more revenue than broadcast emails (Juniper Research).

That’s why the smartest brands out there are finding ways to get extra personal with their email marketing (without being creepy about it) by mimicking the interactions individuals have with their friends and family. And these four? They’re knocking it out of the park. Check out their smart strategies below!



1. Harry's

Talk about the power of social proof – not only does this special offer from Harry's come highly recommended, it comes highly recommended from someone Joey actually knows. They used his friend’s name in both the subject line and the body of the email (with his permission), bridging the gap between Joey’s interactions on a brand level and his interactions on a personal level. It’s part of the whole refer-a-friend marketing trend many brands are using these days, and it’s incredibly effective. After all, are you more likely to listen to recommendation from a brand or from someone you know and trust?





2. Bandsintown

This email uses a similar strategy, only Bandsintown doesn’t have to get Greg to volunteer information about himself or Lee to utilize information about him as social proof. You see, when you opt into Bandsintown, it’s with the caveat that they have permission to use information like this from Facebook. So when Greg expresses interest in going to see this concert on social media, Bandsintown has free reign to email his friends about it.

That way, it feels as if Greg is recommending the show to Lee personally, rather than Bandsintown interceding on his behalf. He might as well have texted Lee about it or sent him a link to the concert directly – effectively marketing for them in a way that doesn’t feel like marketing at all. That’s powerful stuff.




3. David’s Bridal

Here’s a look at some smart, smart segmenting from David’s Bridal. A few months ago, I opted into their email list by signing up for a free bridal giveaway. And when I did so, I was asked to provide my wedding date.

They used that information to put me in a segment of August brides. So now, every month, they can send me content that’s super relevant to where I’m at in the wedding planning process. It’s an incredibly savvy personalization tactic, especially for a retail brand; not only are they serving me content instead of special offers or discounts, but that content shows that they’re paying attention and care about my individual experience as both a buyer and as a bride. Well played, David.




4. Loft

If you aren’t already sending re-engagement emails, it’s time to consider it. According to a study by Salesforce, 63% of marketers surveyed said that re-engagement campaigns are “very effective.” And a study by Return Path found that 45% of recipients who received win-back emails read subsequent messages.

And this one feels especially personal. The language itself is warm-and-fuzzy: The overall message is “We miss you,” “You’re important to us,” “Here’s something special just for you.”  Loft used my name both in the subject line and twice within the body of the email. Plus, they provided a list of the three closest brick-and-mortar locations to me in the footer of the email in case I’m looking to shop in-store rather than online.

How do they know all of this about me? Customer data. I’ve ordered from them before, and they saved that transaction along with other information, like my shipping address, to be utilized in their email marketing. (And it totally worked – I happily used my coupon on my next purchase!)




The takeaway here? Use customer data to recreate the kind of personal, one-on-one interactions your subscribers have with their friends and loved ones and watch your success rates soar. It’s next-level stuff that will push your email marketing far ahead of the competition.


About the Author

McKenzie Gregory

McKenzie Gregory is a content writer on Emma’s marketing team. A Nashville native, she can be found covering all things email on the Emma blog, debating hyphenation rules, and watching obscene amounts of Netflix without a trace of shame.

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