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What is Email Personalization and How to Leverage It Effectively

We are living in the era of personalization. Marketers have abundant data at their fingertips, but they don’t always make the most of the opportunity it provides.

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Less than three-quarters of marketers implement personalization in their email strategy, according to research by Digiday and Jeeng. And while 78% of those that do personalize emails with the subject’s name, just 51% personalized the body copy.

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It’s time to change. If you’re in the 49% of marketers who aren’t going all out with email personalization, I’m here to help.
When it comes to personalizing your email marketing, you don’t have to struggle. There are relatively easy ways to use personalization in your emails that go beyond just using a name. In this article, I’ll show you exactly what they are, as well as explaining what a personalized email is, what you can personalize, and why personalized email marketing is so effective.

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Ready? Then let’s begin.
What is a Personalized Email?
Email personalization is a marketing strategy that involves customizing email content to the specific preferences, interests, and behaviors of individual recipients. Truly personalized email marketing goes beyond addressing the recipient by their name in either the subject line or body content. It tailors almost the entire email based on the data you hold about each customer.

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For example, you could create personalized email blasts based on user data from your SaaS platform. Each customer would receive a personalized email showing how often they used each of your tool’s features and an estimate of the ROI they generated.It details how many weeks in a row you have used the software, how many words you have checked, your vocabulary choices, tone, and many more insights. Every part of the email is personalized based on your usage of the tool, while also showing how you compare to other users. It’s a great way to increase engagement and get you excited to use the tool again.
Email personalization doesn’t have to be this detailed. They can be as simple as an abandoned cart email that highlights products that users have left in their online shopping basket without checking out. Only two parts of the email are personalized (the user’s name and their products), but it’s still incredibly effective.

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What to Personalize in an Email
There is certainly no shortage of things you can personalize in customer emails. I’ll give a rundown of the most common elements below, but the world really is your oyster here. All of these elements can be personalized differently, and if there’s a strategy or approach you want to take, then go for it.
Subject lines: Subject lines are the first impression your email makes on the recipient, so make the most of them. You can personalize subject lines with the recipient’s name, a reference to their interests, or a recent interaction with your brand. Doing so can significantly increase the chances your email gets opened.

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Preview text: This is the snippet of text that appears next to the subject line in your inbox and serves as a brief introduction to the email’s content. You can customize the preview text to align with the recipient’s preferences or needs, further enticing them to open your email.

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Body content: The body of the email offers multiple opportunities for personalization. Obviously, you’ll want to include the recipient’s name. But don’t miss the opportunity to tailor the message to their interests, and use dynamic content to showcase relevant products, services, or articles based on their behavior. This is a great way for e-commerce brands to personalize emails based on a customer’s recent shopping history.

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Images and videos: You can tailor the images, videos, and other visual elements in the email to appeal to the recipient’s tastes, preferences, or demographic. This can include featuring products they’ve recently clicked on.

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Offers: If you are creating personalized emails, you should definitely be creating personalized offers to include. Targeted discounts, exclusive deals, or personalized product recommendations are incredibly effective ways to encourage users to take action.

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Timings: It’s not just the content of the email you can personalize. You can also tailor your sending schedule to personalize the delivery time based on each user’s past engagement patterns or time zone.

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Why Personalize Emails?
Personalized email marketing has become essential to successful marketing strategies, and for good reason. Here are some of their biggest benefits:
Increased Engagement

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Email personalization has a much higher chance of capturing your recipient’s attention. When they receive an email that speaks directly to their interests, needs, or preferences, they are way more likely to open it, interact with the content, and, possibly, make a purchase.

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Enhanced Customer Experience
Personalized email marketing creates better, more positive experiences for your customers. By delivering content that is specifically relevant to each recipient, businesses show they understand their customers on an individual level. This level of personalization leads to significantly higher customer satisfaction levels.

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Improved Conversion Rates
Email personalization has a positive impact on conversion rates. By delivering the right message to the right person at the right time, businesses can significantly increase the likelihood of users taking action. In particular, personalized offers can be very effective at encouraging users to make a purchase — especially if customers understand the offer has been created for them and them alone. Exclusivity sells.

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Higher ROI
Personalized emails offer a higher return on investment (ROI) compared to generic, mass-marketing emails. By focusing on individual recipients and delivering tailored content, you increase the relevance and effectiveness of your personalized email campaigns.

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Does Email Personalization Work?
The short answer is a resounding “Yes.” According to HubSpot’s State of Marketing report, segmentation and personalization are the two most effective email strategies.

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Email personalization offers multiple other benefits, too, such as:
Increased open and click-through rates
Decreased unsubscribe rates
Higher customer satisfaction
Opportunities to re-engage customers
Email personalization is also easy to implement. For instance, you could:
Send an offer only if a recipient has recently brought an item.
Change wording based on location or time zone.
Personalize language and images.
However, like any other area of marketing, email personalization has its limitations. For example, some techniques, like customer recommendations, may not work for everyone.

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You can also over-personalize and sound too familiar, which can, frankly, freak people out. Stick to critical areas, which we detail later.
Now you’ve got a picture of email personalization and its benefits, let’s discuss my 15 best practices to ensure you’re personalizing emails effectively.
Steps to Ensuring Effective Email Personalization

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Do you want to increase your personalized emails’ chances of being clicked on, read and drive conversions? Then read my 15 best practices to follow below.
1. Collect the Right Data
If you’re not collecting the right kinds of information, you won’t have a good starting point for personalization.
That sounds simple enough, but where do you start? By collecting information from readers using sign-up forms.
When subscribers sign up to your email list, you can ask them some additional questions beyond their email address or name.
For instance, you could ask for their:

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location
birthday
interests
occupation
Integrations are perfect if you don’t have internal resources to collect information. You probably have a lot of data stored on third-party platforms (like your Shopify store) that you can use to personalize emails.

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Finally, you should create a subscriber preference center to find out what your readers want.
Once you’ve started collecting the right kinds of data, you can personalize your subject lines.
2. Use Personalized Subject Lines

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Subject lines have always been important in the world of email marketing, but they must be specific for the best results.
For example, they should differ from industry to industry, audience to audience, and so on.

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You can run tests to find the most effective ones. For example, you can modify the content of your subject lines based on all the data you’ve already collected about a subscriber’s wants, interests, age, location, and more.

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Open rates and conversion rates are only up from there.
Once you’ve got subject lines down, you should focus on triggered emails.
3. Use Behavior-Triggered Emails
Behavior-triggered emails are real-time reactions to how your customers are using your product. This is where the future of email marketing is heading — and triggered emails have a good open rate to boot.

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