Use email marketing personalization to improve customer engagement

Illustration of email marketing personalization

The average person receives more than 120 business emails a day, and the competition for attention and engagement continues to become more challenging. People receive dozens of emails every single day, but only a small fraction of those are actually opened. So how do you make sure your emails stand out from all the rest?

The answer — and the solution to your moribund metrics — is email marketing personalization. Personalized emails are one of the easiest ways to guarantee your message captures recipients’ attention quickly, enticing them to open it as soon as it hits their inbox.

Consider this your guide to learning what email personalization is, why sending personalized emails is important, and the best strategies to help you increase engagement and develop better relationships with your audience.

In this article about email marketing personalization, you’ll learn:

What is email personalization?

Personalization in email marketing is a strategy marketers can use to provide subscribers with email content that is tailored toward their specific interests, creating a more customized and memorable interaction.

A personalized email would use subscribers’ data like their name, company, location, age, or gender in dynamic fields and throughout the creation process to ensure the content of the email appeals to the recipient. That way, even though the email was sent in bulk, each recipient feels like the sender created email content just for them.

A good personalized email should include relevant information that your recipient will find interesting. It should also be timely, arriving just when the recipient needs those suggestions, offers, or other information the most.

A great example of a timely email is an abandoned cart reminder that gets sent out soon after a customer added something to their online shopping cart but then left the site without making a purchase. Timely emails like this have the greatest chance of creating meaningful connections with your subscribers by providing relevant content and tailored suggestions at the moment when a customer is most likely to act.

Why is email personalization important?

Email personalization can do a lot to strengthen your company’s brand and the relationships you have with your subscribers. Though there are many benefits to using personalized emails, here are some of the most important ways personalization can help your email marketing efforts.

Increase open rates

It’s a simple fact that personalized emails are opened much more often than non-personalized emails. According to industry data, emails with personalized subject lines have an open rate that’s more than 20% higher than those with generic or static subject lines.

Increase engagement

Not only does personalizing emails get recipients to open them more often — it also increases the likelihood of them actually reading your email content and clicking through. Personalized emails have been shown to produce a 139% increase in click rate compared to static one-time sends.

Personalized emails increase CTR by 139%

Improve customer relationships

The whole purpose of sending personalized emails is to make customers and subscribers feel important. When done correctly, personalized emails should encourage your subscribers to view your business in a more positive light and increase their loyalty to your brand.

Creating strong relationships with customers raises brand awareness by increasing the likelihood of subscribers recommending your company to other potential consumers, and it also makes it easier for you to target and personalize content to your current customers. When customers have good relationships with your business, they are likely to be more willing to share their data. The more data you have access to, the easier it will be to further personalize the content delivered to each person. And in today’s market, customers crave personalization in every business interaction.

Increase revenue

Not only does personalization improve open rates and increase engagement levels, but it also leads directly to higher revenue. A recent report showed that the revenue gained from personalized emails is 5.7 times higher than non-personalized emails. This is a natural outcome as engagement with your content increases, leading to higher conversion rates and an increase in the number of purchases made.

Customers want to feel that a company values them before they make a purchase. Personalizing emails and their content to fit your audience are small changes to your email strategy, but they can have a major impact on your total revenue and the overall success of your email marketing efforts.

How to gather data for personalized emails

In order to successfully personalize emails for your customers, you have to be able to easily access their personal information. There are many ways you can go about gathering personal data from your customers. Here are three of the most common methods.

Improved email subscription forms

Improving your email subscription form is a quick, easy way to gather a little more basic data about your subscribers. Rather than asking customers to simply enter an email address in order to subscribe to your content, expand your form to include additional data fields such as their name, birthday, location, and other non-invasive questions that they would be comfortable answering.

Keep in mind that these additional questions should be relevant to your brand and the content you are planning to share via email. For example, asking someone if they are a student can help you target them with discounts and other promotions on products that are particularly appealing to students.

Below is an example of a relevant email subscription form to help give you an idea of what questions you could ask on your own subscriber forms.

Email subscription form

Browser tracking

Another great way to gather data is through browser tracking. This method of data gathering uses cookies to track a customer’s behavior while on your site, which provides you with large amounts of behavioral data that can help you determine some of their interests and preferences. Once you know some of a customer’s current interests, you can provide hyper-personalized product recommendations and use targeted emails to cross-sell similar products and avoid cart abandonment.

CRM Integration

Integrating your email marketing with a customer relationship management system (CRM) or ecommerce platform will instantly give you additional data on your customers, as well as access to professional tools that can help you better manage that data and perform deeper analyses.

When it comes to managing customer relationships, Adobe Experience Cloud has a robust suite of products and services. It allows you to easily manage the entire customer experience from start to finish.

One of many products offered within Adobe Experience Cloud, Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform includes management and analysis capabilities that are usually limited to IT departments. It can help you collect and standardize your data, creating customer profiles that automatically update in real time.

Real-Time CDP is suitable for both B2C and B2B businesses and can help you obtain actionable insights into your audience, which will enable you to react to customer events in a more timely manner. Nailing down the timing of communication will help you create personalized, relevant experiences for each customer on your subscription list.

Top email personalization strategies

Now that you’ve gathered all the customer data you need, it’s time to put it to work to create personalized and memorable customer experiences. Here are a few of the best strategies for effectively using customer data to personalize your marketing emails.

Segment your audience

Segmentation is an important tool for refining your marketing strategy. It’s also a crucial first step to sending effective personalized emails to your customers.

To get started, separate your customers into different groups that have something in common. The actual groups you use will vary depending on your business needs and marketing goals, but some common examples you can use to create these potential target groups include gender, age, location, and industry.

Dividing your customers into these groups will help you determine which specific factors you should target in your email communications. It will also help you decide what content is most relevant and which dynamic fields should be utilized in your email copy.

Use dynamic content

Dynamic fields are specific fields in your subject line or email copy that are able to be changed automatically based on the person receiving the email. A great example of this is a dynamic first name field which makes it so that every recipient sees their own name written in the subject line. Using dynamic content prioritizes sending relevant content to customers instead of the old-school, one-size-fits-all emails that businesses used to send.

Nutella dynamic personalization

Image credit: Nutella

Segmentation and gathering as much data as possible from your customers are key to being able to utilize dynamic fields and content in your emails. Without segmentation, you wouldn’t know which fields are most likely to resonate with your chosen audience. Without data to fill those fields, your efforts to create personalized emails will miss the mark. That’s why both of these elements are so important.

When these strategies are used correctly, you’ll be able to create personalized emails tailored to specific audiences.

Personalize the subject line

If you could only make one change to your current email templates, it should be to personalize the subject line of your emails. Though it’s a very small change, this adjustment is one of the most effective personalization techniques — and it often has a large impact on the recipients since this is the first element of your email they will see.

Personalizing the subject line could include adding a dynamic name field, using specific language tailored to your audience, or even changing the “Sender” field to show as being sent from a specific person instead of the company or brand name. When the sender is a specific person, it helps customers feel valued — and they become more likely to open the email and engage with its content. After all, someone at the company took the time to reach out to them personally with suggestions and offers.

Having a specific sender name also gives the email a friendlier appearance and can pique the recipient’s curiosity to open the email and find out more about it.

Personalized emails are the future of email marketing. Not only do they increase many of your performance metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversions, but they are also an effective tool for developing stronger relationships between your customers and your brand.

Send triggered emails

Triggered emails are a must-have in email marketing. These automatic emails are created with a built-in alert that triggers them to go out in response to certain customer actions. Some common trigger actions are leaving items in the cart, signing up for an account, or subscribing to your email list.

You can also use trigger emails to remind customers when their subscription is about to expire so they can reactivate it, which is a great way to stay on top of renewals. Many companies will also use triggered emails to provide additional suggestions to a customer based on their browsing history or after a purchase when there’s an opportunity to cross-sell similar products they may like.

Utilize anniversaries

Another easy way to build relationships with your customers using personalized emails is to send an email celebrating the customer’s birthday or the anniversary of their joining your loyalty program. Sending these celebratory emails shows them you care and can endear you to customers as they see that you cared enough to remember their special day.

Create personalized content

This particular strategy seeks to make the entire email appealing to the recipient. It goes beyond creating subject lines that encourage the customer to open the email and takes it up a notch by ensuring that once they do open the message, everything within that email is relevant to the customer and tailored to their interests or preferences.

A few ideas for how you can personalize the content of your emails are:

Be creative and utilize all your available resources. Here’s an example of personalized email content:

Content personalization example

Get started with email personalization

Personalized emails are the future of email marketing. Not only do they increase many of your performance metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and conversions, but they are also an effective tool for developing stronger relationships between your customers and your brand.

Today’s consumers crave personalization and appreciate receiving tailored suggestions that save them time, as well as personal notes or well-wishes that make them feel like a valued member of a community.

If you’re looking to improve the effectiveness of your emails through personalization, the first step is gathering sufficient data to be able to appeal to customer needs, preferences, and desires. To do this effectively, you need a platform with the tools to personalize the entire customer journey from start to finish across channels.

Get started with Adobe Experience Cloud today.

Watch the Adobe Campaign demo or an Adobe Real-Time CDP overview video.