In today’s world, email marketing and personalization go hand-in-hand, just like peanut butter and jelly, Burt and Ernie, and bacon and eggs. You’ll be hard-pressed to find ideas about the future of email marketing without a focus on personalization.

Personalization is a vital part of email marketing as well as one of the top ways to help your emails convert. In fact, personalized emails deliver 6x higher transaction rates, increase open rates by 26%, and revenue is 5.7 times higher.

It’s no secret that personalization is key to creating a winning marketing strategy, and 77% of marketers agree. However, 70% of brands fail to personalize their messages.

In this post, let’s take a look at the top 3 email marketing personalization fails and what you can do to correct them.

1. The “Hey {First_Name}” Fail

Has the “first name fail” ever happened to you in real life? You recognize someone. They come up to you and warmly greet you using your first name, and you either can’t remember their name or call them by the wrong name. It’s the worst.

When this happens in real life, it’s awkward. When it happens with an email, it creates a distance between your brand and its subscribers. You never want to use the wrong name, forget to add fallback text or use the wrong information.

Email Personalization First Name Fail

Why does this error even happen in email marketing? When you collect email subscriber data from multiple sources, it’s possible for data to get mixed up, be completely missing, forget to add default text, or for {First_Name} to import instead of an empty space.

How to fix the problem

Thankfully, there is a way to avoid the tragic “first name” fail. With the help of an email service provider (ESP), you can set a fallback personalization tag such as “friend,” “traveler,” “fashionista,” or anything else that matches your brand more accurately.

Personalized Email Fallback Personalization Tag

If the subscriber’s name is missing, they will see the fallback name you listed in your fallback tag such as “Hey Fashionista,” instead of “Hey {First_Name}.”

Email Personalization Fallback name

If the subscriber’s name is in the proper field, your subscriber will see their first name.

Email Personalization Email Subscriber Name

2. The Incorrect Congratulatory Email Snafu

Remember that time Pinterest accidentally sent single women an email congratulating them on getting married? It caused quite a stir on social media with comments from customers who felt it poured salt on an open wound.

Pinterest Personalization Congratulatory Email

What about the time Shutterfly congratulated women on babies they didn’t have, which had an even more intense reaction across social media?

Shutterfly Personalization Congratulatory Email

Getting personalization right can help you gain lifelong customers, but when you fail to use it correctly, you risk alienating subscribers.

How to fix the problem

Integrating and cross-referencing information from all data-sources (company profile, Facebook, Pinterest, purchasing history, etc.) is the best bet for verifying current subscriber information. This is especially important when dealing with huge and emotional life-changing events like marriage, pregnancy, and birth. It also you well with less emotionally impactful information like a location change, graduation, or purchasing habits.

In the event you accidentally send out an incorrect email to the wrong subscriber group, take the time to own up to your mistake, apologize, and do what you can to make things right. Everyone makes mistakes, even top brands like Pinterest and Shutterfly. If you acknowledge your mistake, it shows your sincerity and gives you an opportunity to re-engage with subscribers.

3. The Sin of Missed Opportunity

The next personalization fail is not a sin of commission, but a sin of omission. With all the data you gather from customers, you’re sitting on a landmine of information you can leverage to send timely, relevant, and valuable messages to subscribers.

If you don’t use this information to target your customers in relevant ways, you’re not only a part of the 70% of people who are failing to personalize messages, but you’re also depriving customers of what they want.

Customers are asking for personalized information and are more than willing to give up data in return. In fact, Salesforce found 63% of Millennial consumers and 58% of GenX consumers were willing to give up data in return for personalized offers and discounts.

How to fix the problem

The best way to use customer data is to first use a variety of big data tools to collect information on your subscribers. When it comes to email marketing, there are a few strategic ways you can then use this data to connect with your subscribers in more meaningful ways.

How to Use Data for Smarter Personalization

1. Customer profiles and personas

Use the data you gather from social media, CRMs, purchasing history, and past behaviors to build out different customer profiles and personas. These customer profiles can be complex and exclusive or simple and broad, depending on how much data you have, and how much you need to accomplish your personalization goals. The important thing is to create different, relevant personas you can use to create list segments.

2. List Segmentation

Adidas is an example of a brand who uses data to create simple, yet useful customer personas. Then, they use those customer personas to segment their email lists.

Rather than sending out a mass email to all their customers with all their new shoe collections, they use gender data to create two different email segments based on the personas “male” and “female.”

Then, Adidas uses dynamic content to send out the men’s shoe collection to customers that fit in the “male” segment, and the women’s shoe collection to individuals that fit in the “female” segment.

Adidas Dynamic Content by Email List Segmentation

It’s simple to segment lists based on customer profile, gender, location, age, status, and more, and it’s the perfect way to send more relevant content.

3. Email Automation

Just think how awesome it would be to send perfectly relevant emails to customers right when they want them. That’s the power of automation.

Using the automation tools in your email service provider, you can set up emails to send out automatically after a subscriber has completed an action. This action acts as a “trigger” and sends an appropriate email automatically.

For example, when someone subscribes to your list, that can trigger an automatic welcome email. When a customer purchases a product from your website, that can trigger an automatic send a thank you note with an order number. You could also set up a trigger to send an email when customers abandon their carts that remind them to purchase and even sends them a discount to incentivize them to complete the order. There are so many different ways to automate based on real-time customer actions, and it keeps your email marketing game sharp.

4. Predictive Analysis

If you have strong enough data collection tools and a solid marketing team, you can use predictive analysis to search for trends in previous behaviors and purchasing history. Then, email marketers can use this information to fine-tune their email marketing strategy.

For example, you can use past purchasing history around the holidays to help you gear up for next year. Find data that answers the questions like:

  • How successful were your previous offers?
  • What offers did customers respond to most?
  • Which offers had the highest conversion rates in previous years?
  • How much did customers spend on certain holidays vs other holidays in the market and at your company?

Data can help you answer these types of questions and lead to a more successful email marketing campaign.

Wrap up

Personalization is a huge player in the marketing game. Without it, you’ll be sending mass messages that may not reach the hearts of your subscribers. Even so, brands make personalization mistakes all the time. Use the tools provided by your email provider to avoid personalization snafus and create marketing content that customers crave.