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These days, personalization isn’t an option, it’s a marketing necessity. If your email content isn’t tailored to the wants, needs, and interests of your audience, you’re going to get lost in the shuffle.

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Unfortunately, 60 percent of marketers struggle when it comes to real-time personalization. But you don’t have to be one of them. Here are five pain-free ways to personalize your email content so it gets your customer’s attention every time.

1. Segment Your Audience

It’s hard to personalize your message when you’re treating every reader the same. Do they have interests in common? Sure, but it’s the subtle differences in each customer’s background, journey, and behavior that provide the building blocks for targeted buyer personas and list segmentation.

And it’s not as hard as you might think. In fact, everything you need should already be in your database: demographics, locations, service and product purchase dates, website viewing habits, and click-through and download behavior. These are all metrics that can be used to neatly categorize your audience and create a more personalized message.

Plus, list segmentation works. Companies that use it report 39 percent higher open rates and 28 percent lower opt-out or unsubscribe rates.

2. Personalize Email Subject Lines

Email subject lines can make or break a campaign in the blink of an eye. In three to four seconds, recipients decide whether or not to open your email, and 35 percent make this decision based solely on the subject line. In other words, you have to grab their attention fast.

Personalized email subject lines can do just that. In fact, a case study by MarketingSherpa found that personalized emails had open rates 5.13 percent higher than non-personalized emails, and click-through rates were 17.36 percent higher, on average. The personalization can be as simple as adding a “[First name]” token to the subject line.

Here’s an example from Guitar Center:

Guitar Center Email Example

3. Personalize Your Sender Name

This is less about personalizing the message and more about adding a human touch to your conversations. We inherently prefer connecting with other people, so using a real name in lieu of the company name can make a difference. In fact, HubSpot found that replacing a company name with an individual’s name increased both open and click-through rates.

HubSpot Graph

4. Personalize Your Content

According to Experian, personalized emails yield a 29 percent higher email open rate and a 41 percent higher unique click-through rate than run-of-the-mill, non-personalized emails. So it pays to get personal — from the subject line all the way to the final CTA and landing page.

The same data you used to create buyer personas, segment your email list and create valuable content can also be used to personalize individual emails. Personalized tokens can automatically add personal data, such as first and last names, business names, job titles, and locations, directly to the content.

Here’s an example of a personalized email from Fandango that makes use of the recipient’s first name, location and past theater search history to provide a more customized experience:

Fandango example

5. Automate the Process

Behavior-triggered emails allow you to engage with customers in around the clock and in real time. These emails are generated automatically using a template and user data. And they really work; triggered emails have a 152 percent higher open rate than traditional emails.

We’ve all received the obligatory “welcome” email from a triggered campaign, but they can be used for most anything: cross-selling, upselling, lead nurturing, customer satisfaction, re-engagement, you name it.

Here’s an example of a cart-abandonment email from Old Navy:


Email marketing is a competitive business, and if you want to get your customers’ attention, you have to get personal. But analyzing data and crafting personalized email content to improve your campaign results does take time. If you need help, don’t hesitate to ask. That’s what we’re here for!


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Last Updated 2/27/2018; Originally published 6/29/16.

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