On a regular old Tuesday afternoon, two emails show up in Drew’s inbox, both from a software developer, and both to deliver an update on a popular graphic design tool. The first email, sent to an entire email list, starts off:
The second email, sent only to a portion of the same email list, goes like this:
After reading both emails, which one do you think Drew’s most likely to click through and read more about – possibly even purchase – the update? Which one would make you want to click through and continue reading?
(We’d pick the second email, too.)
The two emails have clear distinctions in tone and text, although they’re both saying the same thing.
We just updated a product. We want to tell you about this update. We want you to purchase the update.”
Two emails, same underlying message, yet two very different ways of making it happen.
What’s the difference?
In short, personalization. But how did the second email become so personalized? Tagging.
The second email’s sender used tagging to segment subscribers to send targeted, personalized emails as opposed to sending a generalized email to an entire email list.
What is subscriber tagging?
Don’t get any crazy ideas – we’re not spraying paint on anything here! This form of tagging is attaching specific information to a subscriber during signup or as a result of an action-based response by a subscriber.
The information gathered is a tag. Sometimes referred to as a custom field, tags can be simple such as a name or a date, or they can be complex to note certain interests, habits or purchases.
How tagging makes your emails more personable, detailed and just plain better.
Let’s break down the two email snippets sent to Drew. Email one is very straightforward, direct and general. It’s your basic sales or product announcement email. There’s nothing technically wrong with the first email, but we want you to stand out in the inbox!
And that brings us to the second email.
Email two calls Drew by his name, opening with a friendly, relaxed tone. This is your first big step in personalizing emails. But how did the sender know Drew’s name? He gave it to them when signing up through the subscription form. That’s a tag.
You’ll notice this email doesn’t use the phrase “graphic designer” anywhere in it. Why? Because the sender already knows Drew’s a graphic designer. He doesn’t need to say it.
There’s a few different ways this sender could have known what Drew does for a living.
For example, the subscription form Drew used to sign up tagged him with a silent tag (a hidden custom field), or maybe Drew answered a question on the form itself or in a follow up funnel (something like I Am a ___ or I would call myself a ____) . For all we know, Drew purchased the original graphic design app from this developer previously, and a tag was added to him from that purchase.
*There are many ways to apply tags to a subscriber on your list, throughout their journey. We show you four ideas to get started down below.
When you know all this extra information about subscribers on your list, you can tailor your content to match their interest and occupation. This is where personalization is born.
Take the information you’ve gathered, use it with email segmentation, and you’re no longer speaking to a master list in general terms. You’re speaking directly to those most likely to be interested in what you have to say and offer.
These extra steps create a stronger connection with your readers, and a stronger connection leads to increased engagement (opens, clicks, shares, conversions). You’ll begin sending emails and posts you know your subscribers will find interesting as opposed to mailing everything, hoping they take time and energy to find what will be most beneficial.
And your subscribers? Well, they’ll appreciate you not cluttering up their inbox with mass-mailed generalizations.
Tagging Your Email Subscribers
Many email marketing platforms offer tagging and custom field capabilities, but keep an eye out for limitations in their application. FeedBlitz clients enjoy the perks of unlimited tagging and custom fields. (You know how much we dislike limits around here.)
In your FeedBlitz dashboard, scroll over to Subscribers – Tags & Custom Fields – Manage Tags & Custom Fields from your main menu to begin.
We dive into the hows of FeedBlitz’s custom fields and tagging capabilities a little more in this post.
First Comes Subscriber Tags, Then Comes Email Segmentation
Once you have tags and custom fields in place, then you can begin working with email segmentation. Segmentation is creating smaller groups from a larger whole. This allows you to take the data you’ve collected with tags and custom fields, and use it to shape the emails sent to your subscribers.
Taking it a step further, you can begin creating groups based on certain tags, separating mailing lists for specific tags, or working through the audience inclusion tab to shape and segment your mailings based on tags.
While many of the largest online retailers and bloggers use this practice it can also easily be used by anyone using tagging, at any stage, to personalize the emails you send.
After sending a few emails using this process, you’ll want to check your open rates and click through metrics. If these numbers have increased from previous mailings, you can rest-assured knowing this new process is working successfully.
Get Started with these 4 Tags
If you’re new to tagging, email segmentation, or personalization, getting started can feel overwhelming. There’s a lot of options to choose from. To cut through the clutter, we’ve listed four starting points for your tagging and segmentation journey.
- The First Name Tag – It’s small and simple, but it’s significant! You would be surprised at how many bloggers and site owners skip asking subscribers for their name. With a first name, you speak to that person on a relaxed, one-on-one level.
“Hey, Drew!” … “Hello Drew,” … “¡Hola Drew!”
Another great idea is to use their first name in other places throughout the mailing. Halfway through reading your content, the subscriber may come across “So Drew, what I’m talking about is….” This added touch of in-email personalization reinforces the relationship you have with your reader and re-engages their attention. Win, win.
*Only have names for some subscribers, but not all of them? Check with your email platform on how to work with the information you have so you won’t end up with “ Hey, !” in your emails. FeedBlitz users, we’ve already got you covered.
- A Subscription Form Tag – Using a silent tag (hidden custom field) shows which subscription form a person used to join your mailing list. This will highlight which of your forms are most effective, show what incentive offers are most enticing, and which landing pages are the most active.
With this tag, you’re creating a foundation for future A/B testing when it comes to the subscription form’s headlines, colors, placement, incentive offered, images, and content. Tracking the success of your subscription forms in this way guides you along the path to designing high-converting subscription forms for you website.
PS: Zooming out to the bigger picture of subscription form tags, where the form lives on your site (landing page, blog post, etc.) gives you an idea the type of content your new subscriber is interested in. This information sets you up to send targeted follow-up emails and related content.
- The Post or Product Category Tag – This tag makes sorting and targeting your subscribers as simple as a few clicks of the mouse. Not only will you able to tell which posts or products are the most popular, but also you’ll be able to identify which group of subscribers to retarget when sending complementary post or product emails. If someone has purchased from you before, they’re more likely to purchase from you again. The same goes for being interested in a particular post.
This tag can be applied based on subscription forms attached to particular posts, or transactional emails associated with a purchased product. Similar to the subscription form tag, starting this practice now will reap greater benefits as your email marketing campaigns grow.
Bonus tip: A signup form offering multiple choice categories is a great idea if you have clear, specific categories for your site and want to tag by post category!
- The Main Interest or Focus Tag – We recommend reaching out to new subscribers shortly after they join your list to ask what their main interest or area of focus is. Give options for your subscribers to choose, and when they click their answer, the click automatically adds the tag of the interest/focus to their email address.
This is an action-based tag that does require a small amount of automation, but once in place, it will run on its own with little to no maintenance required on your part.
And that’s just a few to jump-start your tagging journey. Revisiting the two emails sent to Drew above, can you spot which tags were likely used in the second email example?
If you look closely, it’s actually a combination of tags we just went over. The first name tag, paired with the main interest/focus tag or even a purchased product tag provided more than enough information to craft a personalized, targeted email for Drew and other graphic designers on the mailing list.
All of this through basic, proper tagging and email segmentation.
Building a Solid Tagging Foundation
These four tags are merely a starting point for your journey into tagging and custom fields. As you expand your email marketing, you’ll be in a position to collect more data and add more tags. A subscriber can have unlimited tags in FeedBlitz, so the possibilities of what you can do and the combinations you can create are endless.
The important thing is to have a strong foundation of information you can use to create emails that speak directly to your subscribers and stand out in their inbox. Why? Because we want all the Drews in the world to look forward to receiving, sharing and engaging with your emails.
TL;DR Using tags to create and send high-quality, personalized content that speaks to a subscriber’s interests, uses their language, and even calls them by name, leads to happier subscribers who are more likely to convert to lifelong, engaged subscribers and loyal, paying customers.
We just gave you four of those tags, which ones will you use? Any questions? Send our team an email at email@example.com. You can also chat, check out our Help Forum, or give us a call at 1.877.692.5489. Our Support and Sales Desk is available Monday – Friday from 9 am to 5 pm EST.