Tuesday, August 11, 2009

August 11th "Autoresponders In Your World" Series, Part 25.

Autoresponder Personalization: How Intelligent Wild-card Use puts the Wal-Mart Smile Back into your E-mails

In the real world, everyone appreciates the personal touch. Nothing puts a smile on a customer’s face faster than a warm greeting in their favorite store. Whether it be the grocery store, corner gas station, or local watering hole, what’s better than a friendly ‘Hello’ from the owner or his employees? Size is irrelevant – Wal-Mart has turned ‘Meet and Greet’ tactics into an art form. This is classical customer support: proprietors nurture personal relationships and cater to your needs and desires in order to build business loyalty.

The Internet presents unique challenges to entrepreneurs looking to connect with prospects and customers. Autoresponders can play a big role in this respect. Most third party services and software are built with a rich set of “wildcards” that allow you to personalize your e-mail communication. You can use wildcard code to address your subscribers by name, date your correspondence, and even add geographical references.

Incorporating wildcards into your autoresponders is simple. Within your message, insert appropriate wildcards in the positions you want. For example, many e-mail marketers start their letters with a “Hello John” salutation. In this case, you would insert the first name (or full name) wildcard to replace John. In aweber, for example, {!firstname_fix} is the code used. Therefore, your salutation would be:

Hello {!firstname_fix},

If your subscriber’s first name is Mary, then she would see ‘Hello Mary’ at the start of her email, not ‘Hello {!firstname_fix}’.

Not surprisingly, most research indicates that e-mail open and response rates improve with autoresponder personalization. Think about it – if a letter addresses you by name, wouldn’t you be the least bit curious to find out what the letter is about? Just use the ‘first name’ wildcard in a few strategic locations, perhaps even the Subject: line, and each individual subscriber will see their name in your correspondence.

Your ability to personalize e-mail marketing with autoresponders depends on the contact information collected while building your list. Therefore, make sure your opt-in forms include fields for the prospect’s first name and e-mail address at a minimum. This way, you can send instructions for list confirmation, ‘Thank You’ offers, or e-book download messages even before starting your regular autoresponder sequence. It goes without saying that having no contact information takes away your ability to personalize e-mails.

Autoresponder personalization is the best way for Internet entrepreneurs to capture the essence of relationship-based online marketing. On the surface, it may not put money in your pocket, but it is the first step towards building a responsive list of subscribers. Everyone likes to be called by their name; with the rapid growth of social media, e-mail marketers must demonstrate that they are still capable of personal contact and taking their subscribers’ problems to heart.
and putting smile on their faces…

Rahul Majumdar is an Information Marketer specializing in article marketing, list-building, and digital product creation. Sign up for more of his insights here

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