Personalize e-mail communications for better open rates

By Steve Outing

In yesterday’s tip I talked about e-mail sub-lists as a marketing tool. Here’s another bit of e-mail advice: Personalize your e-mails to improve open rates.

It’s been demonstrated that inserting personalization variables into outgoing e-mails’ subject lines significantly increases the number of people who open an e-mail. We all get so many messages — many of them spam that slip through our spam filters — so it’s important to have strong and relevant subject lines that entice recipients to open your messages. You may have a brilliantly thought-out e-mail communications program for your audience or member base, but if they don’t open your messages, that’s a lot of wasted effort.

Aweber.com, an e-mail service provider that I use for some of my web projects, offers a long list of personalization variables that you can insert into the messages you send out to your lists: full name, first name, last name, date, geographic information, and custom fields. You just insert a code snippet into your e-mail’s subject line or body. Very easy.

Here’s what Aweber reports as results of using personalization:

“Subject line personalization using the date generated an average open rate of 51.4% compared to personalization using the subscriber’s first name generating 40.9% open rate. Newsletters sent without personalization of any type in the subject line generated average open rates of 28.9%.

“17% of newsletter subject lines sent in the last 30 days (by Aweber.com clients) contained date personalization while 19% used the subscriber’s first name. 56.3% of subject lines did not contain any type of personalization. Interestingly, using the subscriber’s full name or last name generated lower average open rates.”

Keep in mind that spammers also understand this and use personalization. So subject lines should not only include personal information, but also the wording must be relevant to your audience and not sound like spam.

For e-mail to be relevant, your e-mail lists need to be well targeted. Which again takes us back to the importance of sub-lists, the subject of yesterday’s tip.

Sending e-mail is easy. Getting recipients to open it is not.

(If you’d like to learn more about e-mail open rates and e-mail optimization, there’s a wealth of information available online. Here’s a start from Email Marketing Reports: Email Open Rates Guide.)

Author: Steve Outing Steve Outing is a Boulder, Colorado-based media futurist, digital-news innovator, consultant, journalist, and educator. ... Need assistance with media-company future strategy? Get in touch with Steve!