Personalizing your emails

With so much content being distributed daily via email, it can be a struggle to ensure yours is the most engaging to recipients. What can you do to set your communications apart from the rest and maintain or even improve engagement rates over time?

Email personalization is a simple and effective way to catch your readers’ attention and distinguish your content from the other emails filling up their inbox. Personalization can mean a number of things - from identifying the recipient themselves, to sending from a familiar name (or face). Pieces of content can be made dynamic to adjust to a particular readers interests. Utilizing one or a combination of these methods can improve your readership and keep your contacts interested in content customized just for them.


While small pieces of personalization may seem trivial at first glance, it has been shown in comparing personalized vs. generic content that emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be open than those without. In spite of the obvious benefits, many marketers have a difficult time implementing personalization into their own communications. One study showed that during the holiday season, when 80% of marketers placed promotion in their top three email marketing strategies, only 56% of those also noted segmentation-based targeting as a top strategy. Additionally, only 21% were utilizing personalization or A/B testing.


Though many marketers appear to be aware of the benefits of email personalization, it can be difficult to put it into practice. Segmenting an existing database and incorporating personalization into a marketing strategy can seem like a formidable task. In reality, a few simple steps can have a big impact on the way you market your content.


First, it’s crucial to come up with a plan. Share data with your team to get them behind the benefits of personalization and how it can help get your content in front of more readers, or keep existing readers coming back for more. It is also essential that as much data be collected around your contacts as possible – you cannot tailor content to a recipient if there is nothing unique to them in your database in order to generate the personalization. The more data you have on file for a contact, the more successful you can be in targeting their interests, or utilizing dynamic content and merge functionality to have emails appear customized for them.


Sign Up forms, Preference Management sites, and other questionnaires are one good way to gather this type of information. Try to gather not only the basics, but also personal details, topics of interest, and more. Ask questions – what brought a subscriber to your site? What are they interested in? Simple information like this can make a huge difference in how you are able to target your communications after someone has subscribed to your content.


Segmenting your lists is another simple way to get started with personalization – by separating and consolidating contacts based on particular criteria that you have gathered about them in the past, you can continue to send mailings that target them moving forward. What communications have your contacts viewed the most in the past? What type of links have been clicked? Utilize this information to target your mailings to the right people and improve your engagement rates.


While personalization and dynamic content may seem tricky at first, incorporating small changes into your marketing strategy over time can make all the difference in improving your engagement rates and readership. Using whatever tools you have at your disposal, put a plan in place to actively get the right content in front of the right people – it may not be as daunting as you expected.