Sales & Marketing

How to make your online advertising more personalised

Personalised marketing helps to drive sales but you don’t need a huge advertising budget to target your customers with tailored correspondence

Personalisation is key when it comes to marketing: a direct mail or an email with your name on will be more effective than a general direct mail or email. A 2012 survey by email marketers Adestra found that emails with personalised subjects are (on average) 22.2% more likely to be opened, and more than one-third (35%) of internet users said they would welcome personalised ads or recommendations online.
Creating a strategy
A personalised marketing strategy can take many different forms. For example, you can personalise an email with your customers’ names: “Hi Martin, this week we have an offer just for you.” Or you can use the information you know about customers to create a targeted email: if you’re know the customer is male, you would only include relevant products, or if it’s near their birthday, offer them a discount. Lastly, you can personalise based on behaviour patterns. For example, if you operate a music website and the customer last visited the easy listening section, you can target the email with easy listening products.
Back to basics
Personalisation doesn’t have to be complicated; if you have traded online or have an existing mailing list, you are likely to already have all the data you need. A very basic system involves sending a personalised email using Word’s mail merge function and Outlook. 

  1. In Word go to the Mailings tab in the toolbar at the top, click on Start Mail Merge then choose Email Messages from the dropdown menu.
  2. Click on Select Recipients in the menu bar, in order to select the contacts you want to receive the email. You can type a new list, use an existing list, or choose Outlook contacts.
  3. Next, insert the appropriate fields that you want to place in the email – this would normally be the greeting line at the top. Click on Greeting Line in the menu bar and set up the format you want to use – full name, first name etc. You can also choose what to enter if you don’t have the name for all your recipients. Click OK and you will see the greeting line field appear.
  4. Now check that the fields appear in the correct place by clicking on Preview Results in the menu bar. Click the forward arrow button to go through the recipient list. Save the document.
  5. Finally, click on Finish and Merge in the menu bar, and select Send Email Messages. Choose a subject line for your message, select the format then select the recipients. Once everything is set up, click OK and your email messages will be sent.

"Personalisation doesn’t have to be complicated; if you have traded online or have a mailing list you are likely to already have all the data you need.”

Upgrade your software
This system is ideal for a small mailing list but not advisable if you intend to send more than 50 emails. Your account is likely to be suspended, as Outlook will try and send all the emails at once. If you’re going to regularly send personalised emails, you need to look at a more powerful dedicated cloud-based email system like MailChimp, Aweber or GetResponse. Alternatively, you could move to a customer relationship management (CRM) system like Zoho or SugarCRM, which offer more scope to personalise and refine your emails. 
Video content
One of the latest additions to marketing personalisation is tailored video. The technology now exists to create videos that contain users’ names, and images can be changed to reflect the types of products or services the customer likes. Facebook recently produced personalised ‘Look Back’ videos for its tenth birthday that showed users highlights from their Facebook accounts. 
The companies producing personalised videos – such as Impossible Software, SundaySky and Idomoo – are still too costly for the average SME, but the technology is coming down in price and it should be accessible to everyone within a few years. Until then, there are cheap ways to create videos that look professional: services like Stupeflix allow you to produce videos using drag and drop, and you can add interactivity to make your videos personalised.
With the range of options constantly growing and evolving, we are likely to see a huge increase in personalised marketing, and even with limited resources, it is possible to create campaigns that target customers and translate into sales. 

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John Carroll - Helping businesses achieve International success. Head of Product Management & International Business, Santander UK