The Ultimate Guide to Personalized Email for Every Marketer

How personalized are your emails? If you’re not thinking about personalization in any way, shape, or form, then I’m willing to bet that the answer is “not very” if you’re sending mass mailings. Email marketing is one of the best ways today’s marketers can connect with their customer base and increase loyalty — but only when it’s done correctly. The personalized email starts with understanding what you know about your consumer, shopping cart abandonment emails being a good place to start.

The following piece will help jumpstart your efforts in making sure your next email blast gets opened and read by providing some foundational knowledge on how personalized email works and examples of great campaigns that utilize different levels of personalization.

– Basic Email Personalization Tactics

The following are just a few of the most basic ways to use personalized email in your campaigns. This is not an exhaustive list, but this will help you get started on the right foot and hopefully inspire you to take more concrete steps with personalizing your messages.


This is easily one of the simplest things to do when it comes to putting together an email marketing piece: make sure that the email copy matches up with what you’re saying elsewhere on your site and social media channels. For example, if someone signs up for your newsletter on your homepage but later finds themselves on a product page and doesn’t continue their signup process (aka they “abandoned” their shopping cart), make sure that your email marketing copy reflects what you’ve already said about yourself on your homepage. Using language that’s consistent with your vendor pages will help keep the line of communication open with your customer base, rather than breaking it by sending an email touting features or services that are no longer relevant.

– Medium Sophistication Email Personalization Tactics

The following are some examples of mid-level personalization strategies to incorporate into your next email blast. This is far from a comprehensive list, but these tactics are popular amongst marketers and brand managers for their ease of implementation and immediate impact they can provide to both acquisition emails (welcome messages) as well as retention emails (abandoned shopping cart messages).


Even if someone doesn’t fill out their name when signing up for your email marketing list, you can still personalize an email by utilizing the name that they did provide (or even if they didn’t provide one at all: some emails will auto-fill names based on the referring source of the customer). This is a great way to get individuals’ attention and really show them that you’re speaking directly to them.

Order Id:

If someone has already bought from you once but hasn’t completed checkout on their second order, consider including an order id in your next welcome email or abandoned cart email campaign. You can include this specific line item in any future promotions or content pieces so that customers with unfinished business know exactly where to go if they want to complete an order.


When sending welcome messages, or abandoned cart emails, you can personalize based on the time of day they signed up for your email list so that when they get your message in their inbox, it feels like it’s just for them because it’s at a time that is optimal for them to read your email. This is great if you have something specific to tell them that feels urgent (like an upcoming sale) but don’t want to come off as too salesy by including it in every single email you send out. Also, consider using this tactic for subscription-based emails where you want to thank customers with rewards or incentive points once they hit certain milestones within their membership period again, make sure not to include this information in every single email you send out, but do feel free to include it as a reward for signing up and engaging with your brand.

 Social Media:

Stuffing social media links into emails is a great way to see immediate results from your efforts because ultimately if someone takes the time to click on something within an email, they’re already engaged before get there so putting call-to-actions directing them to these platforms can be a great way to not only gain additional exposure for your company but also keep existing customers updated on the newest happenings via these portals – especially if they have yet to convert into a customer.

– Advanced Sophistication Email Personalization Tactics

The following examples of personalization are considered medium to advanced because they require either a deeper understanding of marketing automation software or, for the industry to industry touchpoints an in-depth level of familiarity with your customers. If you’re serious about increasing user engagement and lifetime value for your email list subscribers, then these tactics are just what the doctor ordered!

1. Grouping:

One of the most challenging segments that marketers attempt to personalize their messaging is based on behavior rather than demographics or psychographics. This tactic requires segmentation strategies involving more than just basic groupings like gender, location, etc., but also needs to take into account frequency of purchase, types of purchases made (especially if there’s some aspect of frequency tied to it), products purchased at specific times (i.e. holiday shopping season) and more. It’s important to note that grouping is different from tagging (which we’ll discuss shortly) because it requires a historical perspective of customer behavior and purchasing patterns as opposed to the latter which only utilizes information from one specific point in time.

2. Segmenting:

This tactic works hand-in-hand with the first, but there are some additional caveats as well. While segmentation identifies user groups based on data sets like those mentioned above, it also allows you to create custom messages for each group – meaning that depending on where they fall into your predetermined segments you can send them targeted content just for them – even if it includes other individuals who don’t necessarily fall within that set. This means tailoring personalized discounts and offers especially for them, while also being able to send tailored messaging based on what you know about them. For example, if a particular customer segment knows they have a birthday coming up and falls into one of the more expensive purchase groups, you could offer them a discount or free item specifically for their birthday.

3. Tagging:

Tagging is where it starts to get interesting from both sides because unlike grouping and segmenting, tagging can be action-specific which means that once someone does something specific, then it gets tagged as such allowing marketers to understand user behavior based on actions rather than segments or demographics alone. It’s important to note that this functionality used in conjunction with custom audiences can allow marketers to create marketing segments even more targeted than before. Even within the customer life-cycle, tagging can allow marketers to go beyond the normal sales funnel and understand which users are more likely to convert into customers down the line or even upgrade their existing packages.

4. Personalization:

Of all the tactics discussed in this guide, personalization is probably one of the most rewarding because it allows marketers to combine multiple strategies including segmenting, behavior grouping and tagging to create highly targeted messaging that’s based on what you know about each individual subscriber. This means understanding not just who they may be, but also where they’re from (current location), how often they engage with your company via email and other touchpoints, what kind of content they engage with, and whether or not there’s any possible way for you to offer them something tailored to their specific needs. While this is one of the more involved tactics, the results can be well worth it.

5. Custom Audiences:

Custom audiences are a highly effective way for marketers to create custom segments that allow you to not only target users based on demographics but also behavior – especially if your website or app includes points where users have saved information or have made payments – making them ideal candidates for certain offers and discounts. In the same regard, it’s important to understand what types of actions generate a conversion, which ones don’t, and which ones seem to fall somewhere in between so that you can identify those users who might need additional attention from you even if they haven’t converted just yet.

6. Dynamic Content:

Dynamic content refers to the ability for marketers to send targeted messages based on data collected from the user – but instead of sending out separate messages each time, you’re able to use a single message and update specific elements that may change such as dates, prices or offers. While this is nothing new (and it’s also one of the most common tactics used) it does require a decent amount of sophistication because not only do you need to create your core messaging document ahead of time, but you’ll also need users to subscribe and engage with your brand in order for dynamic content marketing strategies to work.

7. Automation:

Larger businesses will probably be most familiar with automation and while some would argue that it can’t be considered true personalization, you have to admit that being able to tailor messages based on a number of different factors – including but not limited to past behavior, customer status and where they are in the sales funnel – is certainly tailoring messages as if you were “speaking” directly to them. Since automation can be used for more than just email marketing, its usage varies from industry to industry and company-to-company so if you’re going to explore this strategy, try making small changes at first before diving in headfirst without a plan.

8. Recommendation Engines:

Recommendation engines may seem like a lot of work upfront with very little reward, however, it’s still an effective tactic that many marketers swear by. At the end of the day, users expect some level of personalization from the brands they engage with and if you’re able to create a targeted experience that’s based on what they’ve bought in the past, what they might need or want in the future and more importantly how likely they are to respond to a given offer, it can be very rewarding.

9. Contextual Marketing:

Contextual marketing is relatively new but it’s expected to become a go-to for marketers who have previously struggled to create highly personalized experiences simply because it takes into account not just who any given user is but also where they are at any given time. This means understanding their device type (desktop or mobile), their location (based on IP address), and other contextual clues such as the search terms they’re using to serve up the most appropriate message possible.

Marketing automation is a way to send targeted messages based on a customer’s behavior and preferences. Marketers can use automation in various ways, including sending product recommendations or special offers that are relevant to a user’s unique profile. Using marketing automation, marketers focus their resources on creating personalized emails for all of their subscribers instead of trying to guess what each subscriber might want.

Custom audiences are a highly effective way for marketers to create custom segments that allow you to not only target users based on demographics but also behavior – especially if your website or app includes points where users have saved information or have made payments – making them ideal candidates for certain offers and discounts.

A/B testing is a great way for marketers to determine what type of messaging resonates best with their audience and then create highly personalized experiences that continue to use the same (or at least very similar) messaging and offers. It’s also an ideal way to test new channels like using push notifications vs. emails, for example. While it may be relatively easy to set up A/B testing if you already have a website or app in place, it requires more resources (and user trust) if you don’t currently use any digital assets.

What can be personalized? Personalized e-mails can improve engagement by reaching out directly to users who are more likely to be interested in your offer based on their previous behavior and then tailoring it to their unique experiences while using your brand.

A personalized e-mail can use almost anything that is stored in the user’s account or “cookies” that are stored on their browser, including:

1) Sender name

2) Subject line

3) Personalized text within the email body

4) Offer/Call-to-action (CTA) button text

5) Images used in email. For example, a picture of a TV a user registered for purchase could be included if they’re receiving an offer for a new model coming out soon. If they were previously browsing TVs and have recently been viewing larger models, then an image of a larger TV might also accompany the offer based on this.

6) Offer/CTA button color

7) Offers that are relevant to users based on their purchase history, web browsing behavior, and email engagement.

8) Embedded personalized links (for example, if one user has previously read about Android phones online then they may be more likely to click on the link for an offer featured within an email which brings them directly to an Android phone.) 9) Open rate data

10) Device of interest – desktop vs. mobile

11) Operating system – iOS, Android, or Windows Phone

12) Location (based on IP address). This is important because it helps highlight any location-specific offers or discounts available at different retailers in the area. For example, if a user is in a different city from where they usually live, this might be an indication that they’re visiting and more likely to be interested in additional offers while away.

13) Type of device (smartphone or tablet). Users who access their email account primarily on mobile devices could see very different offers than those who access the same account on the desktop.

14) Time of day

15) And many other factors such as open rates and device type.

Concluding Note

The Ultimate Guide to Personalized Email for Every Marketer’s Success is:

Medium Sophistication: Use of data such as location and time of day to send relevant offers.

Advanced Sophistication: Sending personalized emails that build off visitors’ previously shown interests, or recently visited sites/products/services. This is done by using information such as the site they just came from, etc. to create a more personalized experience and offer right away. It can also be used to identify ‘high-potential’ leads within the sales funnel – i.e., those who show interest in multiple areas (products, services) but haven’t yet taken action on any one item (purchased).

Personalized e-mails can improve engagement by reaching out directly to users who are more likely to be interested in your offer based on their previous behavior and then tailoring it to their unique experiences while using your brand.

You are most welcome to add your valuable points.