Ask the Expert

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Question: Should I personalize my e-mail marketing messages?

Answer: The idea behind personalized, or one-to-one, e-mail is to provide subscribers custom e-mails that appeal to their interests and, in turn, develop that customer's loyalty to your company.

Studies show the main reason people opt out of e-mail communications is irrelevant content. Conversely, personalized e-mail can increase click-through rates dramatically. The more personalized the e-mail, the higher the click-through rate. A Jupiter Research test found that simply inserting a person's name into an e-mail increases open rates by as much as 10%.

But savvy marketers know that name-only personalization isn't enough. The same Jupiter test showed that once subscribers opened e-mails with their names, if the e-mail wasn't further personalized, conversions dropped. Readers expected more and were disappointed.

Marketers, therefore, should strive for e-mail messages that deliver a high level of personalization. The higher the level of personalization, the more valuable and relevant the content is to each subscriber.

You can personalize e-mails by providing readers with customized, dynamic content. One way to do so is to create a single e-mail template and then choose different content pieces according to what various recipients might find relevant. To determine the best content for individual recipients, marketers should rely heavily on their customer database, using data collected over time through surveys, opt-in forms, user profile pages, etc.

Chris Baggott is co-founder of ExactTarget (, an e-mail software provider.

Have a question for "Ask the Expert"? Send e-mail to Mary Morrison at [email protected]

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