Email is where it’s at for national brands and retailers. The marketing channel took first place — ranking well above social media and search engine optimization — in Street Fight’s 2016 National-to-Local Marketers survey. But what separates the good campaigns from the best seems to be localization.
Going local with an email campaign can be as simple as segmenting lists by city and including the addresses of local stores or as involved as editing the copy to reflect regional purchasing trends and language dialects. The end goal remains the same—to ground the business in the local community and give customers a sense of trust.
“Localized email campaigns can help can turn a big corporate brand into a community favorite,” says Pamela Starr, director of product training at Constant Contact. “They allow customers to see the national brand as represented by their friends and neighbors, rather than anonymous corporate employees, and a genuine connection can be created.”
Here are seven examples of ways that national brands can localize their email marketing campaigns.
1. Include pictures of local employees. “Whenever possible, use pictures of local employees participating in local events. A picture of the local staff working the concession stand at a high school football game can really help email subscribers see that brand’s employee team as a true neighborhood partner. If the brand doesn’t have staff in every community, something as simple as a graphic in emails saying ‘We support the Winter Springs High School Huskies’ can have almost the same effect.” (Pamela Starr, Constant Contact)
2. Engage around geo-specific events. “Geolocation data can help retailers effectively drive in-store foot traffic, attribute online sales to email efforts and redirect customers to dynamic landing pages designed for specific locations. As marketers localize their campaigns, they should consider nearby happenings—whether that’s an upcoming weather storm or a celebrity in town that can be used as a trigger for a local campaign. These geo-specific events can provide a timely and fun opportunity to engage and can significantly boost open and click-through rates. Brand marketers should, however, exercise caution when using geolocation data and avoid getting too local. Campaigns shouldn’t mention a location more specific than a customer’s neighborhood, regardless of how detailed the data is.” (Seamas Egan, Campaigner)
3. Invite customers to submit their own photos. “Showcasing local customers can also turn a big, national brand into a community resource. Use email campaigns to invite customers to submit their own pictures, then share the best in future emails. Something as simple as ‘this is how our Orlando-area customers prepare for Thanksgiving’ can be very meaningful.” (Pamela Starr, Constant Contact)
4. Test targeted emails by city. “Segmenting your lists by state or even city will allow you to also test targeted emails to understand the popularity of certain products. If you blast out an email to all of your subscribers, you may miss valuable information. As an example, if a restaurant sends an email nationally, they will receive a report showing the stats for the whole country. If they segmented their list by state or city, they could see other results that may give them insights into how they can improve their menu and overall specials by local restaurant. I’m sure extra avocado is requested more in California than in Louisiana.” (Daniel Miller, Benchmark Email)
5. Address consumers’ interests and needs. “Consumers typically respond best to localized messages that address not just their location, but also their interests and needs. Marketers should use additional data points they have on customers—like past purchase data or browsing behavior to craft an email message that’s localized and offers a personalized incentive to visit their website and make a purchase. For example, if a subscriber browses a product online but doesn’t buy it, an offer highlighting that product and a local store will help encourage an in-store visit.” (Seamas Egan, Campaigner)
6. Use phrases like “near you” instead of specific cities. “Because people are constantly moving, it’s best to craft localized messages that resonate the most if the person is where you think they are, but do not fall flat if you got the location wrong. For example, saying ‘On Sale in Bloomington’ simply isn’t relevant if the recipient moved to Indianapolis, but saying ‘On Sale Near You’ with a Bloomington address may annoy the consumer who’s no longer there.” (Tom Burke, TowerData)
7. Respond to weather events with targeted offers. “By responding to a local weather event, like an impending blizzard, with an email to local customers offering a discount on snow blowers, a brand can create timely sales opportunities that also enhance customer relationships. If a brand hasn’t already collected geographical data about their email subscribers, survey, polls or special links can be embedded in the emails to encourage existing subscribers to share their location. Something as simple as a survey asking subscribers to share their state in order to get special local content can get fast and easy results.” (Pamela Starr, Constant Contact)
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.