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The best way to succeed at email marketing is to use all of the tools available to you. But, the truth is, many businesses get comfortable with a certain email routine and stick with it. They overlook some of the best tools they have at their disposal because they aren’t sure how they work, or if they’ll be beneficial to their campaigns.

One of those overlooked tools is email personalization. But personalization is an underused tactic by marketers and those that are using personalization only scratch the surface, by including a first name in the subject line or email. In a recent survey, improving email personalization ranked as the number one goal for 38% for marketers and was rated as the number one challenge by 36% of the survey participants.

Campaign Monitor – Improving Email Personalization

As a result, just 35% of subscribers say they open three marketing emails a week – at most. Another 37% don’t open any at all, according to research from Magnetic and Retail TouchPoints.

And yet, when an email is personalized, transaction rates are six times higher than non-personalized emails, according to research from Experian. And emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened and generate a 760% increase in email revenue from targeted and segmented campaigns.

Experian – Personalized Email Increase Open Rates
Marketers can take personalization way beyond the subject line. Publishers and media companies that utilize Campaign Monitor to reach their subscriber base have some excellent examples of advanced personalization techniques that you can use as inspiration. Here are three tips from them:

1. Send segmented emails based on subscribers’ interests

At the heart of personalization is segmentation. By segmenting your list you can create tailored content for each group and realize some awesome revenue as a result.

DMA – Segmented Email Campaigns
When subscribers receive emails they are interested in, they’re more likely to engage with them.

How do you break your list of contacts into segments that make sense for your business? Follow the lead of Refinery 29.

Refinery29 accomplishes this goal through targeted sign up forms. When someone signs up for a daily newsletter, Refinery29 asks them to choose their editions. People in Los Angeles will receive relevant content, particular to their local area.

Refinery 29

Refinery 29 – Email Segmentation – Sign Up Forms

2. Dynamically change product images based on subscriber information

Many people assume that personalizing an email is a time consuming, manual process, but that’s not the case with dynamic content. You can create one email, but the images and message inside the email will change based on the subscriber. It’s called dynamic content.

Seventy-five percent of marketers consider dynamic content a highly important marketing goal, according to MarketingProfs.

Let’s look at an example. Let’s say your subscriber signed up to receive your weekly newsletter about pets. You could further target their interests by using preferences they have indicated, like kittens or puppies.

An email like this can be created using dynamic content. It’s a great way to provide personalized, real-time content without creating individual campaigns to send to each segment of your list.

3. Offer email classes that interest your subscribers

Publishers have started a unique, personalized way to engage subscribers through email classes. Subscribers can sign up to receive a series of emails that teaches a specific lesson over a period of time. Using marketing automation makes this a snap.

For instance, Apartment Therapy created a series of classes that help subscribers bake. The Baking School gives subscribers one new lesson per email. Take a look at the example below:

Apartment Therapy – Engage Email Subscribers with Lessons
The email explains what the day’s lesson is and provides subscribers a link to get more details.

Since subscribers specifically opt into this baking class the publisher can expect higher engagement rates.

How to collect more data for stronger personalization

Of course, to send personalized emails you have to collect information from your subscribers. If you’re concerned about asking personal questions, don’t worry. Fifty-seven percent of consumers are willing to share personal information as long as it’s beneficial to them and is used responsibly, according to Experian.

Here’s a look at three ways to collect customer data:

1. Collect information on your  sign up forms
When subscribers initially join your list, you can ask for additional information beyond their name and email address. Consider adding another field that asks for the subscriber’s birthday, location, job title, or interests.

Of course, you don’t want to make the form too long. Asking for one or two pieces of additional personal information is fine, but asking for more than that could cause the subscriber to abandon the form.

2. Use integrations to collect more customer data
Don’t have enough time or resources to collect data? Thirty-six percent of businesses say they don’t have enough staff to focus on data collection and implementation, according to a report from Experian.

If you’re a Campaign Monitor customer, you’re in luck. We have heaps of helpful integrations in our App Store to help you compile customer information with specific collections designed with publishers in mind and a whole section focused on personalization.

3. Use a subscriber preference center
Let subscribers tell you exactly what kind of emails they want from you with a subscriber preference center.

We mentioned this idea earlier. Campaign Monitor customers can easily set up a page that allows subscribers to select their personal interests. Here’s how.

By giving subscribers the power to make these choices, they’re more likely to open your emails because they know they’ll receive messages tailored to their preferences.

Wrap up

If you’re looking to improve your metrics (and who isn’t?) you should consider personalizing more of your email campaigns this year.

Follow the lead of digital media companies and publishers and personalize your emails for a big impact. Try using one of the techniques above and see what kind of results you get. As you get comfortable, work on other techniques. Before you know it, personalizing emails will be as routine as creating a subject line.


This blog provides general information and discussion about email marketing and related subjects. The content provided in this blog ("Content”), should not be construed as and is not intended to constitute financial, legal or tax advice. You should seek the advice of professionals prior to acting upon any information contained in the Content. All Content is provided strictly “as is” and we make no warranty or representation of any kind regarding the Content.
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