People get too many emails. Their second complaint about email marketing? The email content isn’t relevant to the recipient.

You need to personalize your emails, and data helps you do that. That’s the theme of the ClickZ New York session by Allison Kell, marketing manager at the Credit Union of New Jersey.

There are three stages of email marketing you need to know.

Stage 1: Ice Breaker

DON’T SELL. This first stage is about getting to know them, and listening. Have a two-way conversation. Have them tell you what they like, so when you build a relationship, you know how to communicate with them.

Stage 2: First Date
Not that you have listened to them, you know where you want to go on your date. You know what they’re in the market for (and what they’re not). So you know what to send them an email about.

Stage 3: Long-term Relationship
You’ll start personalizing these emails with specific demographic information. You know things about them. Their age. Their interests. Their location. If you’re not connecting with them and showing them you understand what they’re interested in, they’re going to opt out (“break up”).

At the Credit Union of New Jersey, they need their members to stay on the email list, as they send very important information – like new regulations and policies. So they have to make sure people stay on that list.

How do you keep their interest? Continue to listen. Keep sending them surveys. Keep asking them questions. You need to continuously know who they are, so you can keep providing tailored, relevant content.

The Value of Real-Time Data

This is updated data as soon as it happens. We’re not going to send you an email about buying a car if we know you just bought a car yesterday. She gets emails and mailers from a service that wants her to buy their service.

But… she’s been a customer for 7 years. How do they not know that?

If you have that real-time data and your systems is communicating with that data, it’s going to do a lot for you.

  • 67% increase to customer service
  • 39% improvement to customer retention
  • 57% improvement to conversion rates
  • 22% improvement to brand perception

How do you collect that data?

Do you have a CRM? This collects the data for you.
Do you have transactional data? You know what customers buy. Use it to inform what they’re likely to buy in the future.
Do you have personalization data? Name, address, email, marital status. Use this to personalize email communication.

If you don’t have this information, or want more in-depth information you can purchase through 3rd-party services.

You can incorporate surveys into stage 1 (first date) to learn more about your prospects. You can provide content and/or contest that require visitors to opt-in. Use tactics like this to gather information like “Name”; “Address”; “Are you a member”; “Are you in the market for…”

You can also track behavioral results. What did they open and read before? What did they click on?

Integrate that Data

Data is great, but you can’t just collect it. You have to be able to use that data.

Find an email solution that has many integration options. Your systems have to talk to each other. Your CRM, your forms, your surveys, your other output solutions (such as direct mail). Find a solution that allows for A/B testing. And make sure your solution can drive additional emails through click-through behavior.

The Credit Union of New Jersey implements all of these to personalize emails, from sender information, to name, dynamic content blocks, recipient-specific barcodes, location references, etc.

Email Marketing Is About Creating the Consumer Journey

Email marketing is not the destination. Emails keep them on that consumer journey, driving them to your end goals (purchase, membership, etc.).

Let’s talk Generic vs. Personalized. There’s three types of car offers the Credit Union of New Jersey could send out there:

  • New car
  • Time for a new car
  • Recapturing a car loan

But they can also personalize based on what they know. For instance, Loan On-Boarding:

  • You bought a car, you need insurance
  • Would you like to borrow against your equity?

Or, encouraging people to use their credit card more often:

  • Here is your current status
  • Here are the rewards

Creating a campaign library will help you have all the assets created and mapped out to reach these various customers (or buyer personas) at the various points along the journey.

Three Success Measures

For Credit Union of New Jersey:

  • We want to be quick.
  • We want to personalize.
  • We want to make money.

Member gets an email, they click, they complete (eom).
Member gets an email, they don’t click, we (may) try again.
Member does not open email, we try again with a different subject line, switch to direct mail.

Be strategic. Don’t keep sending the same email out and assume bothering them enough will work eventually.