Master Email Personalization with these 5 Best Practices

Targeting subscribers and sending them personalized, hyper-relevant emails is a good way to better connect with the people on your email list. It allows you to send the right message to people who want and need it most. And the more you can do that with your emails, the more likely you are to expand your reach and nurture your audience till they become customers and loyal supporter of your brand. But how can you optimize your emails so you’re making the most out of the chance to engage subscribers? Let’s take a closer look at best practices for personalizing your emails to the right people on your email list.

  1. Determine your goals

If you haven’t written down what you hope to get by personalizing your emails, now it’s the time to do so Whenever you think about ways to optimize your emails, it is important to understand why you are optimizing them. You don’t want to throw in a subscriber’s first name simply because other people did it and you thought it was fun. Be ensure it helps you get your goal if that is to boost your engagement rates like email opens. After all, there are various ways to personalize your emails. You can send an email with a personalization field, like a subscriber’s first name, or you can email specific, contextual content to a targeted group of subscribers. By identifying your goals, it’ll make it easier for you to determine how to personalize your messages. As you think about how you want to make better 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?
  • Do you want to send more related content based on your subscribers’ needs and interests?

For each scenario, consider how you might be able to get the goal you are 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 delicate 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 divide subscribers to deliver targeted content. By having an idea of what problem you want to solve, you’ll be able to recognize the best way to divide subscribers and deliver more personalized emails.

  1. Collect the right data

Once you have an idea of how you want to send targeted emails, be ensure you are 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 are collecting first names in the sign up form. Otherwise, amend your form to include a first name field, like this sign up form featured in our Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing. If your goal is to send personalized emails based on a subscriber’s specific interests,  you might want to ask for that information on the sign up form. Or, send a survey out to your subscribers so you can see what people are interested in and follow up with related email content. If you want to send a one-off email based on how subscribers engaged with a previous message, you can also create a part based on actions like opens and clicks. As you consider ways to optimize your sign up form so you can send personalized emails, avoid asking for so much information. Including too many fields can be very large for your potential subscribers and you don’t want to create a barrier that could restrain them from joining your list. If you do include more than just name and email address, I encourage you to stress the value of your emails. You might even want to explain what kind of targeted content you will deliver if a subscriber shares more information about them.

  1. Use personalization naturally

When you are collecting the correct data, there is one principle to keep in mind: With great personalization, power comes great responsibility. Personalized content should feel natural and not forced. Do it if it matches with the goals you have for your broadcast emails or automated campaigns. Does adding the first name to a subject line bring additional value or are you just doing it to try it? Do you really need to set various campaigns for different sign up forms if the emails aren’t too different from one another? Another useful way to think about it’s by looking back at the goals you set at the beginning. Whether you use personalization fields or contextual content, it should either make it easier for you to make the email or help you establish a personal connection with your email community.

  1. Get creative

While there are different ways in which you can personalize your emails, I like to break it out into two strategies: personalization fields and contextual content. Personalization fields allow you to automatically populate an email with specific subscriber’s information, like their first name or city. Contextual content allows you to send relevant content to targeted part of subscribers, like a broadcast message to re-engage those who haven’t opened an email in more than six months. Since there’re so many pieces of information you can collect about your subscribers and ways to send hyper-relevant emails, there’re endless chances for you to get creative with both strategies. For example, personalization fields aren’t limited to subject lines. You may pepper them into your email content to better keep the attention of your readers. Here’s an example from one of our customers Honoree Corder, a writer, speaker and coach to authors looking to publish books: 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 encouragement 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 have asked. Are there individuals who want information based on their industry or personal situation? Are there others like that person? If you are low on ideas, this can be a great place to start.

  1. Test your emails

Testing your emails is a must-do for most people who send email, and it’s especially important if you are doing things like adding personalization fields or triggering multiple types of automated campaigns. After you make your emails that feature personalization fields, send a test to yourself to make sure the right information is being pulled in properly. If subscribers first names should appear, confirm that is actually happening. If you are using AWeber to send your emails, you can add personalization field content so you can view it in your test email. If you are sending broadcasts to a targeted subscriber segment, carefully set up the process so that the email is only going to that group. If triggering different automated campaigns, test the sign up process to make sure the right follow up sequence is launching with the right actions.


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

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