Every marketer knows that today’s consumers want a personalized experience; that they’re no longer content with just being another number amongst thousands of invoicing records. In fact, the McKinsey research company estimates that creating a personalized shopping experience can boost revenue by up to 30%. However, while marketers may well be making the effort to customize their communications with their customers, many are failing to adopt the same approach for their email outreach prospects.
If customers are looking for personalization, it can reasonably be assumed that influencers, bloggers, and website owners will be looking for a similar experience. Personalization sounds like a simple solution to improve response rate, right? Sure. But personalization in email outreach is much different to personalization in consumer marketing, and this is why some marketers may not see clear successes.
In consumer marketing, marketers are likely to have segmented their contacts and created a small selection of emails to appeal to every recipient within that group. In outreach campaigns, however, group segmentation really isn’t enough. Pitches need to be personalized on a more individual level to have the desired and optimal effects and this, of course, means there’s a need for high level research.
The Importance of Research in Outreach
It can be pretty challenging — if not impossible — to successfully personalize a pitch without having done some in depth research first. Research is essential, especially at a time when Google’s former Head of Web Spam Matt Cutts is discussing guest blogging becoming ‘a more and more spammy practice’. Bloggers are looking for more; for people that have really put the effort into getting their ideas heard.
However, ‘research’, in this instance, isn’t just about knowing someone’s name and being able to recall the title of a recent blog post; it’s about delving into your recipient's online habits, their preferences, and their tastes in a bid to engage… without seeming too much like an internet stalker, of course!
4 Ways to Personalize Your Emails with Research
When it comes to outreach and making a strong and valuable first impression, it’s essential that marketers don’t fall into the trap of making common email marketing mistakes. Personalized pitches can be difficult to get right, but these 4 tips for customizing outreach emails can improve chances of success:
- Personalize Your Subject Line – The first place to start is with your email subject line. Research shows that a personalized subject line can increase open rates by 50%, but what is the best way to add a touch of personalization to your header? In this case, it’s more about emotive personalization than direct personalization. Simply adding your recipient's name to your subject line isn’t going to cut it. In fact, this can actually be a detrimental practice as it has fast become a common tactic used by companies sending unsolicited sales emails. Instead, try to focus on the emotive side of things; interest targeting. Spin content ideas to meet the recipient’s niche, and remember: the first two words of any subject line are the most important! Image source: Neil Patel
- Identify Other Possibilities for Personalization – The subject line is not the only place where it’s possible to add a touch of personalization to a pitch. Consider if there are any other opportunities to customize your pitch to better engage with the recipient. Now is the time to really get stuck in with the research. For example, there really is no universal preference on content type. While some prefer to see articles, others prefer infographics and other data visualizations, some prefer images and videos, others prefer a more press release format. What does the recipient like? Of course, any links included in the pitch to your own work should be relevant to the the recipient’s interests, and try to incorporate some of their own words and tone of voice in your content. Image Source: Criminally Prolific
- Go Above and Beyond – Sometimes, tips 1 and 2 alone simply aren’t enough to provide outreach prospects with a fully personalized experience. It may be necessary to go above and beyond in order to really stand out. Consider referring to relevant posts on blogs that the recipient has directly referred to in the past, or even referring to their own blog posts in an effort to relate their points of view to your ideas. Perhaps even make recommendations for other sources that they may be interested based on their online behaviours and actions. If the recipient uses a lot of visuals to get their point across, mimic this in the pitch. The use of relevant screenshots, for example, can force the recipient to pay greater attention.
- Make the Most of Available Tools – There’s no denying that personalization for each individual recipient — as opposed to the personalization for segmentented customer lists — takes a lot of effort that many marketers simply don’t have time for. This doesn’t mean that email pitches can’t be personalized. In fact, emails can be personalized using marketing tools that automate many aspects of the process. These tools can help to identify blogger interests through content analysis, as well as track both inbound and outbound communications to enable marketers to quickly and easily refer back to previous conversations. In some cases, it is necessary to make use of these available tools to ensure the outreach campaign continues to run smoothly.
Finding the Right Balance
The final helpful hint above, while being beneficial, does open up a big can of worms. Personalization is a very unique and individual thing, and forming a strong human-to-human relationship often cannot be successfully achieved through automation alone. Finding the right balance between manual input and supplementary automation is key to creating personalized pitches that inspire, engage, and convert.