Master Email Personalization with these 5 Best Practices

By sending targeted emails, you can better connect with subscribers and grow your business. Here are 5 email personalization best practices to keep in mind.

Don’t you love getting emails that make you feel like the sender gets you?

Targeting subscribers and sending them personalized, hyper-relevant emails is a great way to better connect with the people on your email list.

It allows you to deliver the right message to people who want and need it most. And the more you can do that, the more likely you are to expand your reach and nurture your audience until they become customers. Not to mention loyal advocates of your brand.

But how can you optimize your emails so you’re making the most out of the opportunity to engage subscribers?

Let’s take a closer look at best practices for personalizing your emails to the right people on your email list.

But first, what’s the benefit of email personalization?

By personalizing your emails so they solve your subscribers’ unique problems, you provide immediate value. And the sooner you can do that, the sooner your subscribers will understand what you bring to the table.

Plus, not only do personalized messages lead to more opens, clicks, sales, and engagements, not personalizing messages can have negative impacts, too.

The numbers speak volumes:

More than a name: A better way to personalize your emails

Personalization in email marketing is so much more than including a first name in a subject line or salutation. In fact, name-specific personalization can rub a subscriber the wrong way—if the rest of the email doesn’t feel tailored to them.

A truly personal email addresses the subscriber’s needs, desires, fears, preferences and other aspects of their personality.

Truly personal emails look at things like:

  • Which emails someone has opened and clicked through from in the past
  • Where on your site they visit
  • How they originally found you and what inspired him/her to sign up to your list
  • Products or services they’ve purchased in the past

Or, send personalized emails based on location, demographics, and other criteria that you collect from your subscribers. 

But how do you collect the data that you need to send personalized emails? Read on for the five best practices that will teach you how.  

5 Email personalization best practices

1. Identify your goals.

If you haven’t written down what you hope to achieve by personalizing your emails, now’s the time to do so.

Whenever you think about ways to optimize your emails, it’s important to understand why you’re optimizing them. You don’t want to throw in a subscriber’s first name simply because someone else did it and you thought it was fun. Make sure it helps you achieve your goal, whether that’s to boost your engagement rates like email opens.

As you think about how you want to improve your communication with subscribers, some questions you might ask yourself include:

  • Do you want to embrace a more conversational tone?
  • Do you want to include specific details of subscriber information?
  • Or, do you want to send more relevant content based on your subscribers’ needs and interests?

For each scenario, consider how you might be able to achieve the goal you’re looking for through personalization. 

If you want to embrace a more conversational tone, for example, addressing a subscriber by her first name can be a subtle way to achieve that. Adding a first name personalization field might also help your email stand out in the inbox and catch your subscriber’s attention.

Or, if you want to send the right message to the right group of people who would find it most relevant, you may want to segment subscribers to deliver targeted content.

By having an idea of what problem you want to solve, you’ll be able to identify the best way to segment subscribers and deliver more personalized emails.

2. Collect the data you need to personalize.

Once you have an idea of how you want to send targeted emails, make sure you’re collecting the right information so you can make it happen.

If you want to send targeted emails that include a subscriber’s first name, confirm you’re collecting first names in the sign up form. Or adjust your form to include a first name field, like this sign up form for Fable & Folly’s podcast updates.

Sending personalized emails based on interest? You might want to ask for specific information on your sign up form in a drop down menu, or by having them check off relevant information. 

Or, send a survey out to your subscribers so you can see what people are interested in, and follow up with relevant email content. You can even add a tag when a subscriber clicks a link in your email to more easily categorize them into groups (or segments). 

If you want to send a one-off email based on how subscribers engaged with a previous message, create a segment based on actions like opens and clicks.

Try to avoid asking for too much information up front. Including too many fields can be overwhelming for your potential subscribers. Don’t create a barrier that could prevent them from joining your list.

If you do include more than just name and email address, emphasize the value of your emails. Eexplain what kind of targeted content they can expect.

3. Use email personalization naturally.

Once you’re collecting the right data, there’s one rule to keep in mind: With great personalization power comes great responsibility.

Personalized content should feel natural and not forced. Do it if it makes sense for the goals you have for your broadcast emails or automated campaigns. 

Look back at the goals you originally set. No matter how you segment your list, personalization should make it easier for you to write with the audience in mind. And, of course, help you establish a personal connection with your email community.

4. Get creative.

There are so many ways to send hyper-relevant emails. Which means there are endless opportunities for you to get creative.

For example, personalization fields aren’t limited to subject lines. You can pepper them into your email content to better hold the attention of your readers. Here’s an example from Melyssa Griffin, who incorporated my first name into her email:

(Side note: In AWeber, you can easily use dynamic content to fix improper capitalizations—like the one above. Learn how to fix lowercase first names without expecting any work from your subscriber). 

For contextual content, consider how you might be able to target automated campaigns to your different subscribers. You can send them campaigns based on what incentive they signed up for, their geographical location or experience level.

One way to find out what your subscribers really need is by referencing any common questions they’ve asked. Are there individuals who want information based on their industry or personal situation? Are there others like that person? If you’re low on ideas, this can be a good place to start.

5. Test your emails.

Testing your emails is a must-do for most people who send email. This is especially important if you’re doing things like adding personalization fields or triggering multiple types of automated campaigns.

After you create a personalized email, send a test to yourself to make sure everything is pulled in correctly. Confirm subscribers’ first names appear in an email if you want them to. If you’re using AWeber to send your emails, add personalization field content so you can view it in your test email.

Carefully set up the email process to go to your intended targeted group. And if triggering different automated campaigns, test the sign up process to make sure the emails launch with the right actions.

Tweak and test as needed until everything looks good to go!

Start personalizing your emails today

Try one of these new tactics to try in your next email send! Be as creative as you like when sending personalized emails.

Want more ideas to help you write better emails? Sign up for our What to Write in Your Emails Course (and get 45+ free email copy templates)!

Additional reporting by Monica Montesa.

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