6 Email Personalization Tactics You Should Avoid

September 1, 2016
By Phil Davis

email-personalization-tactics.jpgEvery marketer wants to appeal to their target audience with the most relevant and personalized experience possible. After all, that’s how brands create a unique and memorable buyer experience; one that makes your customer feel valued. But some marketers aren’t seeing great results from their personalization efforts. And if your strategies aren’t yielding the healthy results you’d expected, there’s likely a good reason.

To help save you from wasting your time and marketing budget on faulty strategies, today we’re going to share six personalization tactics you should definitely avoid:

1. Personalizing Based on Low-Frequency Searches

A single search or several related searches within a small time frame is not grounds for marketers to wage a full-fledged personalization campaign on someone, especially long term. For example, if a woman buys college-themed merchandise as a gift for her niece, who just graduated from high school, it’s likely she doesn’t want to continue receiving promotions for college gear all year long. Context is key.

2. Sending Context-Less Promotions

Speaking of context … Have you ever carefully priced an item and patiently waited for the best sale before making a purchase? Have you ever received a promotion after the fact that beats the price you paid? Nothing is more frustrating for a budget-driven shopper, and this mistake will undoubtedly cost you repeat business.

Considering the context in your personalization strategy will ensure the offers you push are relevant to the buyer’s behavior. (Check out our blog post How to Master Contextual Marketing in 3 Easy Steps to learn more about using context to your benefit.)

3. Depending Solely on Location Targeting

Let’s say you’re on vacation in Hawaii, and you Google “best seafood restaurant, Honolulu.” You receive a listing, read a few reviews, pick a place and enjoy. It was a great experience, but that doesn’t mean you want to continue receiving information on the best seafood restaurants in Honolulu. In fact, you may resent receiving this information if you are particularly bitter about returning home from your much-deserved vacation.

Location-based targeting is an effective approach, but it should be just the beginning of your targeting strategy. There are dozens of ways to segment your lists, including age and basic demographic information. Dig deeper and consider your customer’s purchase history or their activity level with your promotions and other marketing campaigns. These data-based insights will radically strengthen the relevance of your messaging.

Pro tip: If after 30 days your retargeting efforts fail to convert a customer, then stop. Continuing outreach could damage the customer’s perception of your brand.

4. Being Over-Personal

Even if you know everything possible about a subscriber, only use two or three points at a time in your personalized messaging. Any more than that and your contact may feel like you know way too much, which could creep them out.

5. Getting Too Personal, Too Soon

Don’t introduce yourself to a new contact already showing that you know exactly who they are. That’s an ultimate stalker move. Instead, start by just using their name. On the next correspondence, you can try a different personalized detail. As a general rule of thumb, don’t personalize around actions until a relationship between your brand and the subscriber is firmly established.

6. Using Personal Information That Hasn’t Been Vetted

Using information collected on only one lead-generation form is a dangerous move. What if a subscriber accidentally mistyped their name? All your personalized messages will refer to them incorrectly, which is annoying and strips your brand of its attempt to be “genuine.”

Data is powerful, but it also comes with a unique set of responsibilities. If you’re going to use data to drive your marketing strategy (which you absolutely should), respect people’s boundaries. There’s a fine line between caring and creeping.

Can’t get enough personalization tips? Stay tuned for next week’s blog post, where we’ll share exactly how you can personalize in a way that won’t have your prospects contemplating a restraining order!

Get Age, Gender, Income and More Data with InstantData