How to Leverage Personalization in Email Marketing

With new marketing solutions and artificial intelligence bombarding us at every turn, personalization in email marketing has emerged as must-have. It’s not just a fleeting trend but a value-adding strategy that enhances communication and engagement with clients. Leveraging personalization correctly can lead to increased open rates and stronger customer relationships. However, it’s not without challenges, including complexity of integration, data silos, and legacy systems. Yet, if you’re using email marketing, you need to develop effective strategies for implementing email personalization and methods to overcome inherent obstacles.

The Necessity of Email Personalization

Email personalization goes beyond merely incorporating a recipient’s name in the subject line or body of the email. It involves understanding the recipient’s needs, interests, industry, and stage in the buyer’s journey. Creating an email marketing strategy that aligns with these factors significantly boosts the chances of engagement.

Personalization isn’t binary; it’s a spectrum, with a range of possibilities that can be explored based on demographic, geographic, psychographic, and firmographic information. In essence, the more attributes you incorporate for personalization and segmentation, the higher the chances of creating more individually relevant campaigns.

Strategies for Effective Personalization

  1. Segmentation: Breaking down your email list into different categories based on demographics, industries, contact type, or services allows for highly targeted communications. For instance, a client in Ohio might receive different information compared to a client in California. Just as a tax client should likely receive different email communications from an audit client in certain instances. Tailoring your content to the recipient’s interests strengthens the likelihood of engagement.
  2. Trigger Emails: These are automated responses to specific user actions, such as sign-ups or reminders for deadlines. They play a crucial role in keeping the communication open and timely. Trigger emails can also help push a prospect that is near making a decision towards your firm, by keeping you top of mind.
  3. Personalized Content: Keeping content short, sweet, and relevant is vital. The use of relevant industry trends, news, client case studies, and other thought leadership content demonstrates a deep understanding of your client’s needs, thereby adding value to your emails.
  4. Sender Identity: Having personalized emails originate from an individual rather than the firm increases the likelihood of the recipient opening the email, as it adds a personal touch and builds trust. Templates and other triggered emails can be implemented to work alongside your centralized marketing emails.

Challenges and Overcoming Them

Despite the evident benefits of personalization, executing it effectively can be challenging due to complexity of integration, data silos, and legacy systems. However, overcoming these hurdles is crucial for marketing success.

Effective policies for data management are essential. Often, data is siloed in different systems across organizations, making it challenging to create personalized content. Implementing integrations across your time and billing platforms, your CRM, and your marketing automation platform is the most direct way to handle this, however it comes with significant technological complexity and cost. Enacting policies to control quality when data is first added to your marketing system and assigning someone to manage and aggregate all customer data, clean it, and make it available in real-time to all connected systems, can be a more cost effective strategy in overcoming this challenge.

Of course, the technological aspect cannot be ignored. Advanced personalization requires new technology, process changes, and greater access to data. While it might seem overwhelming, remember that personalization is not about achieving the highest level of sophistication but about continual improvement.

How are AAM Members using Email Personalization in their Emails?

As a certified HubSpot partner, our firm leverages personalization in our email marketing for both clients and internal communications. While subject lines and body copy offer simple ways to personalize, more advanced systems allow for deeper customization. Incorporating personalization has significantly increased our open rates.

Trigger emails, such as reminders for deadlines or sign-ups, play a crucial role. For instance, we worked with a CPA client to send tax submission reminders to those who hadn’t submitted information, resulting in a substantial increase in data submissions.

Segmentation by industry, role, or client type is another effective approach. Construction industry clients receive different emails than retail clients, and in retirement situations, relationships are transferred to specific individuals within the firm.

Christine M. Hollinden
Hollinden

 

Everyone wants to be seen and understood; our clients are no different. Email marketing, when done right, is a powerful tool for accounting marketers to engage with their audience and build meaningful relationships. Adding prospects to an ongoing nurture campaign is one common best practice, but personalization can be challenging when your audience is large, diverse, and at different stages of the buyer’s journey. Industry-focused campaigns are typically more effective. When using segmentation, you can include industry trends, news, client case studies, and other value-add thought leadership which demonstrates a deep understanding of and commitment to your client’s industry. I believe this specific type of personalization adds the most value, not just including their <first name>!

Alyson Fieldman
Rockit Results

 

For those who are starting this process at your firm, we suggest beginning with a basic segmentation of your email list(s) based on demographics, industries, contact type (client, COI, or prospect), or services. Since a successful email campaign revolves around education and awareness, tailoring your content to the recipient’s interests strengthens the likelihood of them engaging with the email. Another recommendation is to have your emails originate from an individual rather than the firm because it increases the likelihood of the recipient opening the email.

Finally, keep your email content short and sweet. Simplicity, conciseness, and relevancy are key.  This takes strategy, consistency, and perseverance, but if you keep at it, it can lead to increased open rates and recipient engagement.

Kristy Gusick
Align Marketing Group

Summing it All Up

Personalization in email marketing is a powerful tool that, when used effectively, can lead to increased engagement and stronger client relationships. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach but a journey of incremental progress. With strategy, consistency, and perseverance, firms can leverage the power of personalization to enhance their email marketing efforts. Despite the challenges faced, the rewards of personalized email marketing are well worth the effort you tell to your firm’s leadership, and can help build the case for increased investment in marketing resources and technology.