Since the ProFlowers family of brands started getting a little too personal in their email communications, I’ve been a little personalization shy.
But Chili’s got it right last week, with a simple message that was right on the money. “Found: Kids East Free Coupon for Beth!” read the subject line. Inside, the offer was just that. It was simple personalization—my first name and an offer targeting my specific interests (feeding my hungry kids)—but it was effective in getting my attention and making me feel like Chili’s knew who I was.
(The only thing I didn’t like about the offer was that I was out of town during the period it was valid, but I can’t expect Chili’s to know my business travel schedule. Again, that’s a little too personal.)
In a recent conversation with Mark Simpson, president/founder, Maxymiser, we discussed the right and wrong ways to do personalization.
“The focus should be on targeting the right content and the right offer, in addition to personalizing with the [recipient’s] name,” he says. “You need to be affecting the whole customer experience.”
Simpson offered some basic personalization tips for email marketers, including make sure you are testing and measuring the results of personalization results, and stop if something isn’t working. “Without that sort of benchmarking, you can get a whole load of errors and turn off your customer base,” he says. “That continual learning is essential.”
And don’t just set up automated personalization rules and let them run amok. “Use self learning algorithms and put human controls around them,” Simpson says. “Make sure people are getting served the right content, and don’t just rely on technology to provide all the answers.”
Because of the detailed information they have on their customers, the more sophisticated banks are leaders in email personalization, he notes. As an example, Simpson notes that his bank HSBC is using a recent inquiry on his part regarding mortgage rates to offer up emails with content such as mortgage calculators, closing cost information and other data of interest to home buyers. “That’s a good personalized experience,” he says.