5 Simple Steps to Effective Email Personalization (Guest Post)

This is a guest post by Kimberly Maceda. Kimberly is a content writer for ActiveTrail. She writes for some top online marketing sites and blogging advice on email marketing and marketing automation.


Gone are the days when one-size-fits-all emails work. Customers today are more hooked on content and messages that appeal to their unique interests and individual needs. So if you are still blasting that one email to your entire list, it's time to stop and rethink your strategy.  

Personalization gives heart to your email. Because your email has a personal touch, customers won't feel like talking to a robot or an automated message.

Using customer data for email marketing personalization allows you to send relevant offers and content. This sends a message to your customers that you take time to know them on a deeper level, enabling you to establish a stronger relationship.

When this happens, everything else will follow. Your open rates, clicks, and sales will boost up. In fact, personalized emails can deliver up to 6 times higher transactional rates.

Level up your email marketing personalization with these best practices.

1. Understand your Customer Profile

It starts with how well you know your customers. Data helps you personalize your email marketing.

The problem here is that most email marketers stop gathering data after customers submit the sign-up form. If you want to up your personalization game, gather customer data in every chance you have and at every touchpoint.

For instance, you can send a survey email each time a customer purchases a product to know more about their interests and preferences. Purchase history can give you an idea of what product or service to offer them next time. You can also ask them to share their birthday with you so that you could send them gifts on their special day.

Your email marketing automation software can even help you identify which pages customers frequent on your website. This gives you a hint on what they are thinking of buying from you.

2. Use Data Analytics to Power Your Personalization Game

Wise marketers always look at data analytics to improve their email marketing campaigns. From time to time, check the analytics in your email automation software to see what your numbers have to say.

Your data can show you how well your email personalization tactics are performing. You can use it to determine which strategy is working and which is not. Once you see this, you would know which strategy to continue and which to stop.

3. Leverage your Email Marketing Automation Software

It's good to know all the features of your email automation software, so that you can maximize the opportunities from this technology.

Of course, you have your basics such as using the first name in the subject line and content. But since you are automating emails, setting up triggers should be one of the first things you must master.

Simply put, triggers are conditions that start automation when customers meet your pre-determined criteria. This way, you are sure that the emails you send are relevant and personalized as they are based on the actions of customers themselves.

In e-commerce, a trigger that sends an automated email reminder to customers who abandoned their shopping cart is basic. You can also set up a trigger that sends a welcome email to new subscribers or a thank you email each time a customer buys an item to confirm their purchase.

4. Innovate your List Segmentation Process

Personalization begins with proper email list segmentation. Compared to non-segmented campaigns, segmented emails can bring up to 14.32% higher open rate and 100.95% higher click-through rate.

Using your customer data, you can group contacts sharing similar characteristics, so you could send them targeted emails containing offers that appeal to their interests.

For instance, you can segment contacts such as gender and age to make it’s easier for you to send promos based on demographics. Segmenting contacts based on where they are on the buyer journey can help you warm up cold leads and push hot leads to finally make a purchase. Some businesses group their loyal customers in one email list to enable them to strengthen their loyalty program.

Your email list segmentation techniques are limitless. You just have to check your data to know how well you can create effective segmentation.

5. Continuously Test Your Email Campaigns

If you want your email marketing to keep on improving, then you must keep on testing.

To know how which email campaign can yield better open rates, test your email subject line. Test your CTAs for higher click-through rates. You can test almost anything in your email automation software. Just remember, always test with a goal in mind.

Testing can help you determine the personalization tactics that work to your contacts so that you can apply them to other email campaigns.

Email marketing personalization is a basic tactic, but many marketers still fail to do it. Follow these tips to give your email campaigns a personal touch that your customers deserve. But before you do, remember to pick the right email automation software that enables you to personalize your email marketing campaigns in advanced ways.

What’s Next in Personalization?

Personalization is an interesting topic in the marketing world. Strategies and techniques for personalizing products and messaging have been around for what seems now like forever. But still, it’s new enough that many consumers are not fully comfortable with the amount that businesses seem to know about them.

We personalize emails, direct mail pieces, display ads, and even websites. We use customer’s name, age, gender, physical location, and explicit preferences to dynamically show them different words, phrases, images, and offers.

The more we personalize a marketing message to an individual, instead of treating everyone the same, the more effective our marketing becomes. That’s what we’ve been told for the last five or ten years.

But is that always true? And will it continue to be true in the future?

Already, new technology can and will allow us to target new ads in new ways. Outdoor advertising will be able to change based on who is looking at it. Minority Report predicted that one. Television commercials will be directed at the person watching the TV.

We can imagine a limitless ability to personalize our messaging to every single person in the world. An infinite number of variables, an infinite number of messages, and even more sales for the companies that get it right.

But there has to be some diminishing return in these efforts. At some point, the money and time it will cost companies to become even more personalized will not be worth the number of new sales it creates.

The tech-savvy marketers out there are already experimenting to give us an answer, show us the way. Now it’s on you and your company to sit down and outline how you will use personalization to become better at marketing your products.

Because the overall truth still holds, some personalization works better than no personalization.

6 Ways to Personalize Your Marketing

Remember when “SoLoMo” was a thing? The passing trend of Social, Local, Mobile was really about companies trying to reach and serve a market of individuals.

At its core, the SoLoMo movement was about a shift from the idea of creating a great product designed for everyone, being everything to all people, to being everything for each person, or designing a unique experience to serve the needs of each unique customer or user.

And that’s where we pick up with personalization today. It’s not just using the person’s name in the subject line of your emails, although that is certainly a part of it. It’s about creating genuinely unique experiences designed to cater to each person and reach them more effectively and more directly.

Here are some examples of how we can use personalization in marketing:

  1. Customize your web pages to individual search terms, so that a visitor gets an experience on your site that caters to their needs or wants.
  2. Customize your email follow up based on the interests or needs of each user, ie. the product or category they have expressed interest in by adding it to their cart, visiting the product page, or expressly asked about in a form.
  3. Create two different website experiences, one for new visitors and one for people who are returning for a second or third time.
  4. Allow people to create customer accounts on your site and edit the way they interact with your site when they are logged in, ie. a custom dashboard.
  5. Direct mailers can use what we know about a prospect to customize the mailing, ie. name, geographic region, area of interest, age, gender, etc.
  6. Create retargeting campaigns that speak to prospects’ interests expressed by the pages they visited on your site or their interaction with other ads.

Keep the conversation going - share your personalization tips in the comments below.

Personalization Ideas for Direct Mail


Yesterday, we discussed personalization in marketing from the consumer standpoint. As technology continues to allow more customization, and big data allows us to learn more than we ever thought we wanted to know about our target customers, personalization opportunities abound.

Here are some personalization ideas for direct mailers.


  1. Name and address on the envelope, in the window
  2. Name on the letter


  1. Show products/features they’ve shown interest in
  2. Different graphics/messages for men and women


  1. Different graphics/messages for different geographical areas
  2. Talk about different benefits based on personal details: HHI income, professional, children, other interests


A piece of mail I recently designed was identical with one exception. We divided the country up into six regions and changed the graphics used in the letter based on where the recipient lived. The response rate increased 37%.

Personalization: How Much is Too Much?


Technology has made it much easier to get specific with our marketing messages. We can personalize and customize at will. But where do we draw the line? At what point is it just plain creep?

Is it creepy when your name is in an email, ie. Dear Zach? Is it creepy when your name is in the subject line, ie. “Zach, a special offer for you”? Is it creepy when you see an ad for a product you almost bought on a different site?

Those are all versions of personalization that have been around now for some time (measuring in internet years). And along with letters or direct mail pieces that have your name and address, these things are more or less commonplace by now.

But what’s coming next? What are the cutting edge marketers doing?

Soon almost every piece of marketing or advertisement that you see will be customized. You will be seeing it for a reason. From TV commercials to billboards, the ad will know who you are, it will know whether or not you saw it, and what you did next.

Creepy? Or brilliant?