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Email Personalization Is the Secret Sauce to Digital Marketing

Updated: May 23, 2023
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In the ever-evolving world of digital marketing, email personalization has become the secret sauce for standing out in crowded inboxes and fostering meaningful connections with your audience. Gone are the days of generic, one-size-fits-all emails that fail to engage subscribers on a deeper level. Today’s savvy marketers understand the power of crafting tailored content that speaks directly to their audience’s unique needs and desires. And with the power of digital automation, you can do so quickly and easily. There’s no reason not to personalize!

In this blog, we’ll guide you through the ins and outs of email personalization. We’ll give actionable insights and best practices for personalizing email. Next, we’ll show you a few examples of what personalized emails might look like. Then, you’ll be able to craft compelling campaigns that captivate your subscribers and yield impressive results.

Understanding How Personalization Works in Email Marketing

Personalization is key to creating effective email marketing campaigns. It’s all too easy for businesses to mass-produce one-off messages that feel less personal than a visit to the DMV. With personalization, your company’s messages can help you engage with your customers, build relationships, and drive conversions. By understanding what motivates each customer, you can deliver content that resonates with the individual—resulting in more engaged leads and better sales.

Personalized emails also have higher open and click-through rates. Plus, if you take another step and segment your audience, you can ensure each recipient receives emails tailored to their specific interests. In essence, the process of personalizing your emails actually builds on itself. This leads to improved engagement, which then translates into higher conversions and increased sales—and the cycle repeats. Additionally, personalized emails are more likely to be shared by the recipient. More shares turns into more hot leads. 

The Price of Loyalty

Finally, personalization helps build trust and loyalty among subscribers. Customers want to feel appreciated and valued—and personalized emails make them feel heard and understood. In turn, this can help generate more customer loyalty, which leads to higher lifetime value for your business.

Strategies to Personalize Emails

There are countless ways to start employing email personalization. In fact, the sky’s the limit! You can turn any of your customer data into personalization—even if it’s just a name and email address. To get you started, here are a few common (and powerful) ways to add personal touches to your email marketing.


Firstly, to use email personalization, you need to have an understanding of the people reading your messages. Get as much information as you can on your target audience—and then segment that audience into groups. Those segment groups can be based on any number of popular metrics. Customer needs, interests, purchase history, demographics, and more can suggest popular segments of your audience. Then, armed with that data, you can customize your messages to send to those specific segments. That way, readers will receive emails that are highly relevant to them… and they’ll be more likely to make a purchase.

Voice & Style

An essential part of email personalization is the voice and style of your content writing. Not only do you need to convey your business and value proposition, but you also need to show the readers that you value them, understand their needs, and can make their lives better. After all, we’re in the business of helping customers—and solving the reader’s problem is a winning sales pitch. However, It’s easy to write blanket marketing content that sounds like an old TV commercial. “But wait, there’s more!” Instead, craft copywriting that sounds more like a personal letter. Understand that there’s a human being on the other side of the computer screen. It might seem strange at first, but this strategy has been proven to yield impressive results.

Dynamic Content

Dynamic content, or content that appears only under certain circumstances, is a powerful tool for email personalization. It allows you to tailor emails based on individual user data. For example, your message may include an article that’s related to the reader’s own purchase history. Did they buy a toy that runs on AAA batteries? Send a note that suggests they add batteries to their next order. This ensures recipients receive relevant emails that resonate with them personally.

Merge Tags & Personalization Tokens

One of the easiest ways to use email personalization is to leverage merge tags. Merge tags, or personalization tokens, are simple snippets of code that can be filled in automatically with each individual’s own data. For example, a “first name” merge tag will appear with the person’s name instead of a piece of code or a generic greeting. Readers will naturally see themselves in the message. In turn, that will make the email feel intimately personal. Other merge tags include last names, locations, dates, interests, and even pet names. It all comes down to the data you have… and how you can turn it into something useful.

Subject Lines

Now that you know more about your audience, you can also use that information to create subject lines for your personalized emails. What age range do your readers typically fall into? How tech-savvy are they? Do they respond well to emojis? Research your audience to see what subject lines work well for those data points. Additionally, consider creating subject lines that are especially enticing. For example, use demographic-specific keywords, promote a discount, or mention content or products that may be of interest to them. Above all, however, keep your subject lines short and to the point. It only takes a few seconds for a person to decide to open your message… or delete it unread.

Measuring the Success of Email Personalization

Email personalization can involve a lot of effort on your part… so how do you know if your strategies work? Dig into the data! Like with any other type of marketing, success is best determined by how many opens and clicks your emails are getting. If you’re seeing a general increase in those numbers, you’re bound to see increased sales too.

However, the best way to determine which types of personalizations work for your email audience is by using A/B split testing. For example, try testing two nearly identical subject lines against each other—one with a first name merge tag, and one without. By narrowing down your testing to a single variable, you’ll see which resonates with your readers best. Then, you can continue leveraging that data in future campaigns. 

Examples of Successful Personalized Email Campaigns

Although every business is different, there are a few classic templates for email personalization that almost anyone can use. Take a look at the basic examples below to see the personalization strategies we discussed in action. Then, take inspiration from here and apply it to your own audience.

Example 1: Abandoned Cart Message

Subject line: Did you forget something, [Customer Name]? Body text: Hey there, [Customer Name]. We noticed you left your [Product Name] in your cart. Don’t worry—we saved it for you. Use the button below to reopen your cart, and you’ll be right where you left off.

Thanks for shopping with us! We hope to see you in the virtual shop again soon. 

Example 2: Win-Back Offer Message

Subject line: It’s a DEAL! Get $25 Off When You Buy Today Body text: [Customer Name], it’s been a while since you’ve purchased [Product Name]… and we miss you. So here’s a little deal to get you back in business. Get $25 off your purchase of $100 or more—but only for the next 24 hours! Use the code below to gear up for less with us. It’s a steal you don’t want to miss. 

Example 3: Conditional Content Message

Subject line: How do you like your [Product Name], [Customer Name]? Body text: Thanks for your recent purchase of [Product Name]. Thousands of happy customers have experienced an easier, healthier lifestyle thanks to this system—and we hope you feel the same. If you do, leave us a review! 

[Conditional content: only show the following paragraph to customers who purchased Product Name AND haven’t purchased Suggested Product]

Now that you have [Product Name], have you considered upgrading to [Suggested Product]? With better benefits, faster results, and even less effort required, it’s a remedy many are calling “remarkable.” Learn more about [Suggested Product] on our website or book a consultation with one of our professionals now. For as much as this could improve your life, [Customer Name], it’s well worth your time.

Make Email Personalization Your Secret Sauce

Email is an indispensable tool for any modern business—and email personalization is like the chocolate sauce on top. With personalization, you can create emails that feel one-to-one, even when you’re sending thousands per day. By segmenting your massive audience into sub-groups, you can address different types of target customers and send them messaging that resonates with their needs and interests. You can also build customer loyalty and relationships. Plus, by carefully testing and analyzing your data, you can apply new information to your future messaging… and build a comprehensive email strategy that makes your audience members feel seen, heard, and answered.

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