“Have you ever been in a conversation at a party when someone across the room brings up your name?” writes Justin Williams at ClickZ . “You suddenly shift your attention to that person, evaluating whether or not more attention is required. Is someone asking for your attention, talking about you or merely discussing someone else with the same name?”
Incorporating effective personalization is an excellent way to increase engagement. But it’s more than just including a name. From subject line to the end of the email, here are four creative applications for incorporating high-impact personalization:
1. Personalize for familiarity. To Williams’ point, nothing grabs your attention as much as your own name. So in its simplest application, use the recipient’s name somewhere—as long as it’s as natural as you would use in conversation. In a salutation. As a point of emphasis. In a closing. At all costs, avoid looking like a memorization technique. (“Bill, I knew when I saw this I had to write you. I mean, Bill, this is right up your alley. You just can’t say ‘no,’ can you, Bill?”)
2. Personalize for warmth. More than simply using personalization to prove you know someone’s name, use it to soften the sell. Consider altering your salutation from Dear Bill to something more conversational, like Hello there, Bill or Hello again, Bill. The use of the words there and again makes the personalization much warmer. Where appropriate, include other tidbits (perhaps company name) to demonstrate that relationships exist. And by all means, use the name this person uses. Bill may refuse to read anything that addresses him as William.
3. Personalize for action. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways. Many audience behavior indicators are available. Collect and apply this information to your communication. If someone has visited your site before, note it. If someone has downloaded content before, note it. If someone has visited regularly, note it. Then, as you develop your efforts, refer to those interactions and tailor your call-to-action accordingly.
4. Personalize for re-engagement. Visitors come and go. They see your content and sometimes they download, bookmark or tag themselves in some way. Nothing says we care like acknowledging those tags. It’s been awhile since your last visit. Last year, you viewed 17 articles. Then, use that data to create personalized calls for re-engagement. What would you like to see that we’re not delivering? What are your hot topics this year?
Although personalization can be as simple as including one’s name or contact information, it can also be much more. Use what you know and be creative. Test. Evaluate. Score!
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