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20 February

Personalization in email marketing: Tailoring your newsletters to audience personalities

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Table of contents
  1. What is personalization in email marketing?
  2. Benefits of adopting personalized emails
  3. Personalized email marketing applications
  4. Tips for adopting personalization in email marketing
  5. Concerns about personalization in email marketing
  6. Wrapping up
1.
What is personalization in email marketing?

I believe that tailoring content to individual preferences through personalization enhances relevance and engagement. In my opinion, all marketers should embrace it for better customer connection and response rates. Nowadays, I think it's no longer the exception for those who use it, but for those who don't.

Bruno De Figueredo

Bruno De Figueredo,

Marketing Automation Strategist.

Nothing can better describe today’s subject than these wise words. Indeed, email personalization is rapidly gaining momentum and being accepted by more and more businesses. According to statistics, 9 out of 10 marketers have witnessed increased ROI by implementing personalization strategies.

In this article, we will analyze in detail what email personalization is, what benefits it brings, what concerns should be kept in mind, as well as some tips from industry experts on adopting this trend.

What is personalization in email marketing?

First, it’s worth exploring the concept of personalization as a whole. 

Personalization is the holy grail of email marketing. And when I say personalization, I mean much more than just leveraging someone's first name. I'm talking about making sure each individual subscriber receives the right email, at the right time, in the right language.

Chase Dimond

Chase Dimond,

Co-Founder of Structured Agency.

Email personalization is an approach to email marketing where each subscriber receives an email based on their personal information. It includes all the data subscribers shared with you or you can collect via third-party cookies: name, gender, age, country of residence, preferences, and so on.

Think of it like choosing a special gift for a close friend. Just as you think about choosing a gift that suits their preferences, companies can tailor experiences or messages based on the unique information they have collected about their prospects and loyal customers.

Forever21 Email Personalization Example

(Source: Email from Forever21)

Benefits of adopting personalized emails

Personalization in email marketing offers a number of benefits to businesses and consumers. By tailoring content to individual or group preferences, you can increase relevance to the consumer, which leads to increased brand loyalty and satisfaction. Beyond the immediate impact on metrics, personalization fosters a sense of connection between the brand and the customer, contributing to a positive brand image. Integrating personalization into email marketing strategies empowers businesses to forge stronger relationships with their audience.

Matthew Vernhout

Matthew Vernhout,

Netcore's Vice President Deliverability.

Like any other email marketing trend, personalization must bring something to the table so businesses can consider it valuable for their newsletters. Let’s quickly review the most important boosts your emails can receive with email personalization:

  • you can raise your open rate to up to 18.3% with personalized subject lines;
  • with email personalization, you can expect boosted engagement with a six times higher transaction rate;
  • you can retain your audience more effectively, with a 56% better retention rate;
  • with email personalization, you can establish deeper audience relationships, as 45% of Americans are likely to answer emails that look like they were created specifically for them;
  • email localization, as part of personalization, is another way to boost your open rates and raise them by up to 1000%.

Personalized email marketing applications

When it comes to email marketing, personalization practices play a pivotal role in capturing attention and raising audience engagement. In this section, we discuss essential strategies and techniques for effective email personalization.

Audience segmentation by customer data

Email segmentation, also called list segmentation, is the practice of dividing email recipients into smaller target groups and then sending them the most relevant information.

It’s crucial to start with accurate data; that’s fundamental. Then, segment audiences effectively and test different personalization strategies. Focus on relevance and value addition, not just on superficially impressive elements.

Bruno De Figueredo

Bruno De Figueredo,

Marketing Automation Strategist.

You can create these smaller groups by using different criteria like:

  • age;
  • place of residence;
  • gender;
  • life cycle (just registered, newbie, involved customer, loyal customer, inactive);
  • customer behavior (on the website, in emails, etc.);
  • order history;
  • and much more.

If you’re just starting with personalization, start small and slowly gather the information you need from your customers. You can begin with their name (but make it something better than a salutation) and move on from there.

Megan Boshuyzen

Megan Boshuyzen,

Senior Email Developer.

Personalized subject line

Referencing customers’ recent activity, such as a purchase or a website visit, are great ways to make your subject lines more personal. This instant personalization captures their interest, making them feel the email is made for them. 

18.3%

Open Rate that you can reach with email personalization

Some email marketers believe that personalizing your subject line is simply adding the recipient's name and this will bring incredible results. We disagree with this and, importantly, research from our friends at Selzy shows that just using a name in the subject line can have the opposite effect.

In 2023, they conducted a study and compared the performance of emails with and without addressing in subject lines:

  • addressing customers by name in subject lines: OR was 11.9%, while CR was 1.9%;
  • not addressing customers by name in subject lines: OR was 18.1%, while CR was 2.6%.

I guess you didn’t expect to see this. We were ourselves very surprised by the data. However, we came to the conclusion that we can’t obviously estimate the effectiveness of the personalization and addressing by name in the subject line by analyzing all the emails together, as the quality of the content and the reputation of the senders now play a much more significant role in subscriber engagement.

Selzy

Selzy,

Email Marketing Platform.

In our humble opinion, the age of names in subject lines is slowly coming to an end, as mentioning person-tailored offers and recent activity in subject lines is a more impactful personalization practice. But it is up to you, as you can test both these approaches and find out which is the most effective for your newsletter.

Personalized Subject LInes

Addressing by names in email body as part of email personalization

Addressing the recipient by name is the first thing that comes to mind when it comes to email personalization. With this simple step, you can turn a regular email into a more personalized one with only basic information about the recipient.

Personalized Email from Artstation

(Source: Email from Artstation)

Coming soon in one of our blog posts, we will demonstrate how to check and proofread customers’ names in bulk with GenAI, ensuring you avoid addressing them with non-existing or misspelled names.

Personalized recommendations

This type of personalization requires a more thorough approach, since it is necessary to have information about the purchasing habits and various preferences of your audience. 

This can be done by:

  • analyzing a customer's past interactions;
  • using predictive segmentation.

Since these emails show each customer dedicated offers, dynamic content will come in handy here. Emails with this type of content can dynamically adjust their content based on the recipient’s profile, ensuring that every email is personalized and up-to-date with the latest offers or products they might find appealing.

Personalized Email from Brooklenin

(Source: Email from Brooklinen)

Besides that, make use of social proof. Include reviews, ratings, testimonials, and customer-generated content in your emails to build trust. Recommending products based on browsing or purchasing history to guide their decision-making will only get you so far. By including social proof in your emails, you're showing potential customers that others have had positive experiences with products they are considering. Additionally, recommending highly praised products based on their previous interactions shows that you understand their needs and can guide their choices.

Social Proof Personalization in Emails

(Source: Really Good Emails)

Cart abandonment emails

Abandoned cart emails can be made more impactful by using personalization. This is often done with phrases like “You were shopping here and forgot something” or “Great choice, all you have to do is complete your purchase.” In addition, sometimes relevant products that are best suited to those that the person has chosen are added to such emails, organically complementing the purchase with something useful.

This approach not only attracts attention but also gives the recipient a more personalized experience.

Personalized Abandoned Cart Email

(Source: Stripo Template)

Personal level imagery

Personalized pictures in emails are also good practice for personalizing email newsletters, but it takes some effort to come up with a use. For example, a similar approach can be used for eCommerce, where men’s colors of the same sneakers in an email will differ from women’s ones. Each gender will see its color in the email.

Personalized Imagery in Emails

(Source: Email from Prom.ua)

Personalized emails for reactivation

Reactivation emails can’t be done without personalization since these emails are sent personally to customers who have not interacted with the brand for a long time. For successful reactivation, it’s vital to have the right approach in the form of special offers, exclusive promo codes, and so on.

Personalized Reactivation Email

(Source: Email from Johnny Cupcakes)

Loyalty programs with personalized experience

Loyalty programs already operate based on the principles of a personalized approach. You reward loyal customers who have been with you for a long time and promote your brand to the masses with their purchases. Rewarding these special clients is a great way to demonstrate good qualities and retain these clients.

Personalization With Loyalty Programs

(Source: Really Good Emails)

Personalized email marketing localization

Email localization is a very involved process. It’s not limited to translating text into other languages. 

Localization is a complex process that involves tailoring various aspects of email content and design to accommodate the preferences, cultural norms, and expectations of a global audience. In contrast, translation is the process of communicating the meaning of a source-language text by using an equivalent target-language text. 

Localization is a more in-depth approach that takes into account the cultural, visual, and technological elements of the target audience. 

Depending on the country of the recipients, each email requires a personal approach. There are a few things to consider:

  • cultural differences, for example, in the U.S., Friday the 13th is considered a scary day, while in Japan, they fear the number 4, not 13;
  • writing dates (day/month/year in European countries and month/day/year in some Western countries);
  • the situation in the country should also be considered since it would be incorrect to send too-happy promotional emails to the recipient of a country where some kind of cataclysm, war, or other trouble is currently occurring.

With multilingual email marketing, you acknowledge and respect the diversity of customers, fostering strong connections, building trust, and ultimately driving business success.

We’ve covered multilingual email campaigns and how to manage them in our special eBook that you can read for free right now. Just click here to get your free copy and receive valuable tips and insights. 

Personalized emails sent at the right time

You read that right. Even the timing of your email is part of the personalization and shows your approach to each customer, regardless of their location.

Stop sending your emails at, say, 8 am PST for everyone (which would be 11 am EST on the east coast, etc.). Instead, figure out at scale and through constant testing when each subscriber should be receiving emails and customize those on a per-recipient basis. There’s no one size that fits all.

Chase Dimond

Chase Dimond,

Co-Founder of Structured Agency.

A recent HubSpot study found that the best time to send emails is between 9 am and 3 pm. However, while in Los Angeles it’s just one o’clock in the afternoon and subscribers there will receive an email in the middle of the day, in London, at that moment, it’s already 9 pm, and many subscribers will already be getting ready for bed rather than checking their mailboxes.

This is one reason why knowing the location of the subscriber is important for audience segmentation: so that everyone receives an email at the best time, taking into account different time zones. Subscribers in Los Angeles and London equally appreciate the fact that you took care of them, and the emails arrived at a convenient time for them.

Together with GetResponse, we researched statistics on the best time and day to send emails, as well as other valuable statistics that you should know to stay ahead of your competitors.

Stripo & GetResponse presents
Email Marketing Performance
 
ebook


Consider using the Smart Send feature if your ESP provides it. It ensures your emails are sent not just at the optimal time for each recipient’s location but also based on when they’re most likely to open them, tailored to their behavior.

Tips for adopting personalization in email marketing

Improving emails with new trends should always be approached with preparation and knowledge. So, it’s worth talking about a few email personalization tips.

Upgrade your storytelling for personalized emails

Crafting a captivating narrative around the recipient’s data is the key to making a meaningful connection. Personalized storytelling is designed to dive into the unique situation of the recipient and illustrate how the service becomes the solution to their specific challenges or enhancing their experiences. This personalized storytelling resonates deeply and showcases the tangible benefits your offerings bring to their lives.

Craft a compelling narrative using the recipient’s data. Showcase how your product or service fits into their particular situation or how it can solve their specific challenges or enhance their experiences. For example, if they bought fitness equipment from your online store, you can craft an email that tells a story about how your products have helped others achieve their fitness goals, such as losing 10 kg in 30 days, etc.

ExpertSender

ExpertSender,

Multichannel marketing automation platform.

Another reason why storytelling is important is that many people now write emails using ChatGPT. While ChatGPT produces dry marketing texts, storytelling is a sign of a personal touch. Even if ChatGPT helped you optimize the text, do not neglect storytelling if you want to make the text as impactful as possible.

Constantly test your personalized emails

Only by constantly testing new approaches you can identify your ideal personalization strategy. Unfortunately, no improvement in email marketing is possible without trial and error.

Start simple with a strategic and thoughtful approach, experiment, and grow over time. Test your personalized campaigns iteratively to gauge effectiveness and adjust accordingly. Embrace dynamic content, AMP email, and automation to streamline personalization while maintaining authenticity. Lastly, stay attuned to evolving consumer expectations and feedback, fostering a continuous improvement mindset for sustained success in personalized email campaigns.

Matthew Vernhout

Matthew Vernhout,

Netcore's Vice President Deliverability.

The main rules of proper AB testing here are:

  1. Test one innovation at a time. You’ve started implementing personalized subject lines — you’re testing them. Once you are sure they work in your case, introduce something new and test only that. You get the idea.
  2. It’s worth carefully analyzing the test results and understanding whether they are significant for introducing the practice into permanent use. We recommend using the ABTestGuide service. It is free and quite flexible, and it will help you more accurately understand whether indicators are the result of changes or just a coincidence.

ABTestGuide Analysis Tool

Concerns about personalization in email marketing

When you are adopting personalization, you should also keep in mind certain concerns and pitfalls that can be the way to improve your email campaigns.

I’d say privacy concerns, data quality issues, and the potential for perceived intrusiveness are always risks, given customer perceptions. We should always balance personalization with respect for customer privacy as a default.

Bruno De Figueredo

Bruno De Figueredo,

Marketing Automation Strategist.

Customer data security concerns 

While personalized email content offers many benefits, it raises valid concerns about privacy and data misuse.

You’ll need to watch out for privacy laws, which are already in effect across the globe and increasing in the United States, so leverage something like your Welcome Series to learn more about your subscribers to serve them the best messages.

Megan Boshuyzen

Megan Boshuyzen,

Senior Email Developer.

As the volume of personal data collected grows, so do the risks associated with data breaches, unauthorized access, and the potential use of sensitive information. Among the main concerns related to data are:

  • data breaches because the more data collected, the higher the chance that the data can be disclosed by attackers who are hunting for large databases;
  • transparency as a business must give customers a clear understanding of why information is being collected and how it will be used;
  • compliance with regulations is strictly mandatory since noncompliance with regulations like GDPR or CCPA can lead to serious legal, reputational, and financial losses.

The responsibility for the safety of your customers’ data lies on your shoulders, and you must take it very seriously since they trust you with one of their most valuable assets.

Customer data quality concerns

There are a few pitfalls to watch out for. Data hygiene is hard, and personalization can fail spectacularly if fallbacks aren’t accounted for. Always test your emails and have a plan for missing subscriber data.

Megan Boshuyzen

Megan Boshuyzen,

Senior Email Developer.

Data collection should be done carefully, and it is better to ask people directly about their preferences whenever possible:

  • welcome emails can help you carefully discover basic customer information like name, gender, and so on;
  • make use of surveys on your website or dedicated survey emails;
  • free offers with different ways of registering is also a good approach to gathering customer data.

In addition, you need to think through the content in case you are missing some data (for example, you do not have a name or a gender). As a result, it is better to send something neutral and afterward learn the preferences of the customer.

We’ve published a full-fledged guide on gathering subscribers’ data right. Check it out to avoid mistakes.

Ethical concerns about personalized emails

Ethical concerns are also an integral part of personalization in general and email personalization in particular. You’re dealing with customer data, and for some, personal data requests may seem creepy.

Here are some tips on how to ethically interact with your audience:

  • limit data collection. Only collect the data necessary for personalization and refrain from retaining data longer than needed;
  • provide opt-out mechanisms. Everyone in your audience should have clear and easy-to-use opt-out options for those who prefer not to receive personalized content;
  • conduct regular audits. Review data collection and usage practices to ensure compliance with privacy regulations and ethical standards;
  • respect audience choices. Honor customer preferences and respect their rights to privacy and data control.

One significant concern is the risk of over-personalization, teetering into the realm of perceived intrusiveness and creepiness. Marketers should tread carefully to avoid crossing the fine line between tailored content and invasive practices. Striking the right balance is crucial; marketers should be mindful of privacy concerns and ensure that personalization efforts align with customer expectations.

Matthew Vernhout

Matthew Vernhout,

Netcore's Vice President Deliverability.

Wrapping up

Email personalization is another way you can improve your email campaigns. Indeed, along with personalization, you can get improved open rates, increased engagement, and deeper connections with the audience.

However, you also need to know how to use the tool in order to get the most out of its capabilities. You have to watch the data that your audience gives you to maintain a delicate balance between collecting data for personalization and being creepy. It’s not an easy task, but it will pay off in spades.

And while you are mastering email personalization, Stripo will gladly help you create your person-tailored email templates.

Create personalized emails with Stripo
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