9 Email Personalization Techniques You Need to Know in 2020

Posted by: Ekalavya Hansaj Updated: 21 April 2020

Emails are one of the most important forms of marketing for your online business, and personalization is vital in creating successful email marketing campaigns. According to a report by Demand Metric and Return Path, email personalization was the most widely implemented marketing tactic in 2019. An estimated 72% of online businesses used this strategy.

The reason behind the popularity of email personalization lies in its success for businesses. Figures from Instapage suggest that personalized, segmented, and targeted emails generate around 58% of all revenue for online transactions. To achieve this kind of success, you need to strategize these emails intelligently and effectively.

Email marketing will continue to be one of the most effective channels in 2020 for your business. So, what can you do to nail personalization in your emails? Read this guide for all of the latest tips and techniques for email personalization in 2020. From the simple to the sophisticated, we take a look at nine essential email personalization techniques that you can use right away to boost your email campaigns in the new year.

What Is Email Personalization?

Email personalization is the process of using subscriber data to generate email content that feels tailored to each user. You use the personal information of your customers to send more targeted emails.

A process called segmentation can help you to create more detailed lists of users before sending out emails. The process can boost email revenue by up to 760%.

The aims of email personalization are to:

  • Engage the subscriber/user on a personal level
  • Offer relevant, targeted content
  • Increase email revenue

Email personalization can be simple. It can be a matter of using information such as a user’s name or date of birth to send targeted emails. You might create targeted campaigns for an age demographic, or you might send out special offers for a user’s birthday. The technique also can be much more advanced. You can capitalize on user behavior, previous purchases, and preferences to create a consumer profile. This profile then lets you craft highly personalized marketing messages and offers.

1. The Importance of Data

Before implementing email personalization, you need quality data at your fingertips. This data comprises vital information about your customers. Using the data, you can send personalized content that they want to read.

The effectiveness of your personalized emails depends on the data you gather. Sign-up forms are an excellent place to start. These solicit user information, such as name and date of birth. They are somewhat limited, though. You want to avoid overwhelming your customers right at the beginning.

For this reason, you’ll probably need to get more detailed, quality data on your customers. You may consider using tracking tools that pull online behavior to generate the consumer profile. Another option is to offer discounts in exchange for a customer completing a survey. Surveys are transparent ways to request more information about your customers. Running contests is also a great way of getting extra data.

The data you pull doesn’t need to be much. You might want to find out the user’s profession or the kinds of products they’ve purchased before from you. In the end, the primary purpose is to gather data that gives you a fuller picture of who your customer is.

Data gathering will give you a solid base for your email personalization and, ultimately, greater success with your email campaigns.

2. Move Beyond the Name

One of the most common and straightforward forms of personalization is the user’s name. However, if you are not tailoring the content of the email beyond the user’s name, your message isn’t any different from a mass marketing email.

Remember, the point of email personalization is to drive revenue for your business. You can only achieve this by using personalization. The personal touch means offering your users

  • Tailored content that they are more likely to want to read/click on, and
  • Bespoke offers and promotions that are more likely to make them convert.

Research has suggested that more than one in every three consumers don’t care whether or not businesses use their name in their marketing emails. Therefore, while it’s fine to use a name appropriately, your personalization strategy should go far beyond this.

3. Use Segmentation

Segmentation is the process of placing subscribers into groups based on similar characteristics. The process allows marketers to customize emails for each group, and therefore, improve engagement with them.

To do this, you need reliable data, as outlined above. You might break down users into groups according to –

  • Gender
  • Age
  • Location
  • Profession
  • Purchase history
  • and more

There are no set rules about how to segment your user base. The important thing is to base segmentation on the information that lets you best address each of your users as an individual.

Segmented data works hand-in-hand with marketing automation. You can input the data into a marketing automation engine to help you build email marketing campaigns. These campaigns should speak to each of the groups that you’ve identified.

You could also think about self-segmentation. Through using email preference centers or newsletter sign-ups, customers can select their interests and the kind of content they want to see. Self-segmentation boosts engagement organically. You know what customers are seeking, so they’re more likely to read the emails.

4. Date and Anniversary Recognition

Some of the most useful and easily accessible data for email personalization are essential dates. These dates include the birthday and anniversary for each user.

The best thing about this kind of personalization is that you don’t have to harvest further data to set them up. You’ll likely already have a record of simple user information (including date of birth) from sign-ups. Plus, you have a history of when they signed up/first used your business.

Many businesses use the date of a user’s sign-up or first purchase as an anniversary. This anniversary is an opportunity to send a personalized email. You may consider offering a promotional code in celebration of this or a discount for ordering more of their most-favored products or services. Another option would be to craft a list of similar items to things they’ve purchased in that time.

Birthdays are a simple but effective way to send users a personalized email. You can set these up to send automatically. Studies by Experian suggest that, in 2019, birthday emails tended to generate 342% higher revenue than other standard email promotions. To capitalize on this, use email automation to send each user an email on the date of their birthday.

When sending the date-driven emails, remember that the promotion you offer should be as personalized as possible. You’re unlikely to convert unless you present something that’s actually of value to the customer.

5. Don’t Forget Your Items –

This form of email personalization is a gentle reminder. It lets users know there are items that they’ve added to their cart but not purchased.

Users with a pending but unpurchased item are a great source of potential revenue. If a user has added items to their cart, they’re already showing a keen interest in your business. Furthermore, many users who abandon their online shopping carts intend to come back. A simple reminder email can nudge them toward that final conversion.

Better yet, data from Salesforce shows that 60% of users who received a reminder for their abandoned shopping cart returned to complete the purchase within 24 hours. Don’t miss out on this simple but effective personalization technique.

Finally, it’s useful to note the leading cause of abandoned online shopping carts. Often users may, at the last minute, shop around to check that they are getting the best price. That’s why you should consider, where possible, securing them as customers. There is a possibility the user ended their search without making a purchase. Your reminder email can renew their interest.

You might also consider including a discount or promotion in your ‘don’t forget your items’ email. It doesn’t have to apply to their current order. Instead, it could be as simple as a percentage discount on their next order if they complete their current order.

6. Behavioral Trigger Emails

Behavior-triggered emails react to how and when customers engage with your website, products, or services. They are a great way of communicating with your customers. Communication is key to converting visitors into regular users by establishing a relationship.

Trigger emails can include a welcome message that you send when they sign-up with an offer. These messages also can re-open communication with a customer who hasn’t been to your site in a while. Consider using them to bring customers back to your website after a period of absence for cross-selling and up-selling.

Trigger emails are personalized and individual to each customer. However, they can be easily automated – making it one less thing about which you need to worry.

7. Use Images in Your Emails

Images are an overlooked form of personalization in marketing emails, but they can be highly effective. With advancements in email marketing technology, it’s now possible to adjust the images that appear on email campaigns. These create what is known as ‘dynamic content’.

Dynamic content in an email automatically changes according to a specific factor or piece of information about the user. For instance, airline businesses sending customers flight promotions might choose to tailor the emails with images of locations that the customer has previously visited.

8. Don’t Over-Personalize

The successes of effective email personalization have been well-documented. However, it’s essential to respect the boundaries of what your customers would see as an acceptable level of customization. Going beyond those boundaries can feel like an intrusion.

Personalization mistakes to avoid include:

  • Incorrect assumptions: Your personalized emails made the wrong assumptions about the customer.
  • Assuming the wrong intent: Customers receive a personalized email promoting something far different from what the user intended.
  • Poor timing: Users receive messages at an inconvenient time.
  • Not offering anything to the customer: You send an email personalized with data on the customer, but it’s not offering them any value. What’s the point?
  • Excessive marketing: If a user visits your site once, they don’t want to receive emails multiple times a day every day of the week. That level of targeted marketing will be overwhelming and create unhappy customers.

Don’t make your customers feel like they’re being spied on and don’t use personalization just for the sake of it. If you’re sending a birthday email, for example, what’s the aim of it if you’re not offering something to the customer? Personalization should be meaningful and valuable to the customer to be effective.

9. Unify Experience for Emails and Landing Pages

Email personalization is vital in targeting customers effectively and engagingly. But, there is more that you can do to improve the user experience. Consider matching the personalized emails you send with specific landing pages for more success and improved consistency.

Let’s say you are sending a range of different emails to different customers, but they all click through to the same landing page. There may be some inconsistencies in the kinds of images used or the call to action. Therefore, you should make sure that emails and their subsequent landing page are consistent in their copy and images and that both include the same customized CTA for the user.

A seamless and unified experience will make the user more likely to convert. It ensures their whole journey – from the email to the landing page – is personalized, targeted, and based on data.

Conclusion: It’s Time to Get Personal –

Mass emails are a relic of the past. It’s essential to show your customers that you appreciate them – and what makes them unique – through personalization techniques.

If you haven’t already begun email personalization, it may be a daunting task at first. But, when done right, you’ll see high returns on your investment. Every business – and thus, every customer base – is different, so the most important thing is to keep monitoring and adapting your email personalization methods to find that perfect formula.

Bluecore’s 2020 Retail Trends Survey suggests that 57% of businesses are aiming to increase the number of emails that are tailored to individual customers by 20% in the coming year. Don’t get left behind! By implementing some of these email personalization techniques, you could see your email marketing revenue grow higher than ever before in 2020.


An entrepreneur who chased success till it chased him. Founder at Quarterly Global. Father to Mayra Hansaj and Husband to Anjali Hansaj. Author of “The Criminal Wolf” and “Rise of the wolf”. 114 Days in a slumber haunts me yet.

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