3-finger sustainability symbolAre you using B2C email marketing to its fullest capacity? If you’re still doing batch-and-blast email – sending everyone in your database the same email – there’s a better way. As a matter of fact, here are three better ways:

You can personalize your email messages, calling each and every subscriber by name.

You can use segmentation in your database to support personalizing email beyond just the name, to address buying history, interests, and other factors.

You can use trigger emails to build engagement with individual subscribers at scale, automatically.

1. Personalization

Your goal is to build long-term and trust-based relationships with your buyers. Repeat buyers spend more and don’t incur acquisition costs, so they’re more profitable. You definitely don’t want to spam. By “spam” we mean obtrusive, unasked for, unwanted email advertising to those who haven’t requested to receive your emails. Life is too short; those emails get ignored or worse, get marked as spam, which will harm your deliverability. Your emails need to show your understanding of the buyer, which helps enhance customer loyalty and repeat sales.

To achieve a high level of email personalization, you need to:

  • Analyze your client base. Look at the customer’s personal data and purchase history.
  • Perform customer research. Get a detailed picture of preferred goods, average bill, frequency of purchases, etc.
  • Analyze the efficiency of previous email campaign (opens, clickthroughs, conversion, etc.).

2. Segmentation

Once you’ve analyzed your database, it’s time to segment it according to the factors that count. This has long been known as a B2B tactic, but it works even better for B2C. As the DMA reports in its “National Client Email Report” (2013), “B2C organizations have been particularly successful at moving beyond generic, broadcast email, with less than 20% of email revenue coming from unsegmented email to the whole list.” What you want to build are segments that are specific enough so you can send email that feels personal, but large enough and profitable enough that they warrant the resources to send email to them as a target group.

As an example, if you’re in women’s fashion, you could segment your mailing list by size (plus or petite), interest (athletic wear, resort wear, lingerie, bridal, maternity, etc.), frequency of purchase, average order size, and so on.

3. Triggered email messages

Triggered emails are automated response messages sent in response to an action taken by a person. Examples include “Thank you” messages after a purchase and “Welcome” messages sent to new subscribers as soon as they join your list. Such emails position your company as being caring and responsible, and help engender engagement and loyalty. Transactional messages sent to customers for any monetary transaction on a site (e.g. checkout completed, purchase is made, delivery transaction effected, etc.) are also automated messages triggered by an action.

Trigger email open rates were 70.5% higher than business as usual (BAU), and triggered click rates are reported as 101.8% higher than BAU, indicating significant customer response. Most significantly, trigger emails can produce a significant return: Activity- and lifecycle-based triggers produced 22% of total email marketing revenue, says the DMA report.

Despite being so powerful, trigger emails are underused. As MarketingSherpa research reveals, companies are using automated response for welcome, thank you, and transactional emails (such as receipts). However, only 24% use them for date-activated trigger messages (such as renewal dates or birthdays), and only 18% use them to acknowledge website behaviors. This is clearly an opportunity to differentiate yourself from your competitors.

Trigger emails always go to known people, so they’re a prime opportunity to personalize the message.

For example –

  • “Thank you for registering! We’ll send your first newsletter…”


  • “Dear Esmerelda, thank you for registering! We’ll send your first newsletter…”

Remember that old saying that the sweetest sound to anyone is his or her own name? It also applies to seeing their name in print. See how much friendlier a name makes this email opener?

Opportunities to send triggered messages:

  • Your customer has a birthday or anniversary, or there is a significant holiday
  • Your customer has a life event, such as when they change their status from “Single” to “Married” in social media (if you have the ability to track such activities)
  • Your customer has been upgraded to VIP, participated in a customer loyalty program, or received a bonus card
  • When you ask a customer to leave feedback or to share a link in social media
  • When you want to thank a customer for leaving feedback or being active in social media
  • When you want to thank a customer for placing a 5th or 10th order
  • When you want to send a reply to a price-cutting query on certain goods
  • When a customer regularly checks a specific product page but doesn’t complete the order
  • When a customer hasn’t visited your site for a long period of time

You can also use trigger marketing for upselling; your goal would be to increase the average bill. For example, after the payment clears when a user makes a purchase, he or she receives an email confirmation. This could include standard information about the product purchased; it could also offer complementary or additional goods that may be of interest. Someone who just bought a bicycle online might decide to get a new air pump for bicycle tires. You might use language such as:

  • “People who bought (personalize this with the item they purchased) also bought (item). Buy this today, and we’ll ship it with your (item they purchased) for free!”
  • “What other VIP clients choose”
  • “You’re almost there! Just one more order, and you’ll have Platinum status”

If you decide to do upsell in your transaction trigger messages, test it before deploying widely. There is a risk of being a bit annoying, but when well-done, this is a quite simple and cost-effective way to increase the order size.

Tell me: What B2C email personalization strategy has worked best for you? Have you tried putting the name in the subject line?

Photo of the three-finger sustainability symbol (www.sustainabilitysymbol.com) by Philip McMaster, used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.