96% of marketing emails are obviously templates (or is it 100%?).
I know why companies don’t send personalized messages; it’s too damn expensive.
If you think sending personalized emails is too expensive you’re asking the wrong question. The right question is:
How can we communicate with our mailing list of X thousand in a profitable way?
Just because no retailer is doing this doesn’t mean it can’t be done. Most companies are basing their marketing on what others are doing. The blind are following the blind.
I’m not saying this is easy. It’s definitely not, which is why no one is doing it.
But, if a retailer can find a creative way to have a profitable pen pal relationship with their customers it
could would transform their business.
This isn’t for all types of businesses.
If you’re a business like LifeSource Water (lifesourcewater.com) where people buy just once this idea might not be for you. Though I’d argue lifesourcewater.com could still develop a strategy around my idea. But if you are a site like missouriquiltco.com this idea is a slam dunk.
How does one operationalize such a strategy?
— First, let’s identify a pen pal size. I think 2 hours a day sending 10 personalized emails is doable. I’d recommend the business owner take the lead on this experiment. Once we calculate ROI you can have a junior employee do it.
— The next step is identifying conversation topics. Here are some templates:
>> You can create a welcome email to new buyers.
>> You can recommend item Y to a customer who previously bought X.
>> You can contact a customer who last purchased a year ago. To this person, you can talk about all the things that happened with the site in the last year.
>> You can contact a customer who just posted a review.
… you get the idea. Just identify a communication strategy that fits your brand.
— Do this for a month. The goal is to send out 200 emails. Make note of replies. Are people happy to receive your emails? Are people wanting to continue with the conversation?
— Wait 6 months and compare the productivity of these 200 contacts against your larger list. Don’t look at the cost of sending out the emails at this point. The reason we’re ignoring the input cost is that over time it will go down 70%. You’ll get more efficient. At this point, we’re only interested in seeing if personalized communications drive profitable action.
Update: After writing this post I received this amazing comment from Chris:
This has made a big impact on me. This is precisely how I send emails to my mailing list. I believe the results speak for themselves. My average open rate is right at 50% (quite a bit better than the 10-11% industry average.) The click rate varies depending on the subject and just how much emphasis I put on it but I have seen click rates of over 40%. And if I send a strong recommendation for something to the list I’d BETTER put a bunch of it in stock because they are going to buy.
In the body of my emails I ask questions of my readers and encourage them to reply. When they do reply they will get a personal reply from me. I certainly don’t spend quite as much time as your suggestion implies but the time I do spend is richly rewarded.