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Campaign Monitor 101

How to Personalize an Email


This video contains a brief overview of how to add personalization to email, including:

  • Using custom fields and segments
  • Adding and testing personalization
  • Advanced techniques

For a live tutorial and Q&A, please join our Deep Dive Webinar: How to Personalize your Email

In this demo, we’re going to be sending a targeted campaign for a not-for-profit, with the goal of collecting donations. We’ll be re-engaging subscribers that haven’t donated in the past year, by sending a reminder to donate.

To personalize our email we’re going to:

  1. Target our email to a specific segment.
  2. Customize the subject line and from name.
  3. Add personalization to our email content and copy.
  4. Discover options for dynamic content.
  5. Test our personalization.

We’re going to start with the List and Subscribers page in Campaign Monitor.

Quick best practice worth mentioning is that it’s best to have as few lists as possible. This will ensure you’re on the best monthly-billing tier and that all your subscriber data and history is collected in one place. Most commonly, we suggest you use one masterlist with as many segments as you’d like for your targeted campaigns.

For this campaign, we’ll need to add additional subscriber data to our existing subscriber list.You can see in the Excel sheet here, we’d add/update the following fields: Last Donation Date, Name, Renewal Reminder, Amount Donated, Outreach manager Name and Outreach Manager email.

So let’s go ahead and import this sheet into our existing masterlist. Remember when you’re merging new data to an existing list, Campaign Monitor will ensure that subscribers are never duplicated. Existing custom fields will be updated based on new data and new custom fields will be added accordingly.

To do so, we’re going to click on our masterlist and then click on Add new subscribers right here. We’re going to now drag and drop our Excel sheet and Campaign Monitor will identify and organize the data into custom fields.

We can further define the data type—for example, let’s add Last Donation Date as a Date field, Renewal Reminder as Text, and Outreach Manager as text as well.

These data points will now be used in custom fields in our smart segmentation and personalization tags in our email builder.

Now that we have our data in, let’s find those we want to send to. From our masterlist we only want to send to those that have not made their annual donation, and therefore need a Renewal Reminder. So let’s isolate these subscribers by creating a segment.

Here in the segment builder, you can now see our custom fields as well as some additional subscriber details captured by Campaign Monitor, including location and campaign/journey behavior. Let’s go ahead and identify those subscribers that need a reminder. Click on Segments, then Renewal Reminder = Yes. Let’s rename this segment to “Annual reminder for 2020,” and click Save.

At this time, we have all the data we need for our personalized email, as well as our targeted segment of subscribers we’ll be reaching out to. Let’s move to the exciting part—actually personalizing our email campaign.

We’re going to name this campaign “Annual Reminder for 2020.” And the first tactic we’ll be using is adding personalization in our subject line.

For our subject line, let’s start off with a personalization. Click on Insert personalization and I’m going to choose First Name. I’m going to update the Fallback to: Valued Donor.

Your subject line will have a significant effect on open rates, and our research shows that using the recipient’s first name in the subject line can increase open rates by 26%.

Let’s quickly add in our preheader text and now we’ve come to our second personalization, which is the from name.

Remember, the from name is one of the prominently displayed elements of your campaign when it arrives in your subscriber’s inbox. We’re going to personalize our campaign so that the from name is reflective of the Outreach Manager the subscriber is familiar with.

In order to do so, we’ll need to use personalization tags. Each custom field in your list has its own personalization tag that can be used to pull through and populate data.

Let’s open our List and Subscribers on a separate tab, let’s go into our masterlist and click on custom fields. Here we have the personalization tag for outreach manager. Let’s copy and paste it into our campaign. Enter our fallback. We’re going to do the same for email and enter our fallback.

Beyond just the from name and subject line, there are also many ways in which you can personalize the content of your email campaigns to make them more relevant to subscribers and increase the chance they’ll click through.

Here we have a wonderful Campaign Monitor template that we’ll be using for our outreach.

Within the copy itself, we can add data points from any of our custom fields to personalize the content. For example, to start off let’s address our subscribers by their first name. Simply select the Insert personalization drop-down, and you’ll see all the different personalization tags available. When you send your campaign, the tags will be automatically replaced by the information you have stored in your email list.

Let’s also add the date of their last donation and amount.

Again, using custom fields, you can store any piece of information you choose on your subscribers and then use it to personalize campaigns and increase relevance for the subscriber. You also have the ability to personalize larger sections of your email content through our dynamic content feature.

Here you can click on any specific section, or imagery, click on who should see this and define which subscribers this section should be sent to based on preset segments created.

For the purpose of this email, we won’t be setting any dynamic content, but it’s an extremely powerful tool. For example, sending subscribers imagery they can relate to or special offers limited to certain subscribers. Definitely worth exploring.

Once you’re done adding your personalization you can preview your campaign. At this time, take a look at how it renders on desktop and mobile, ensure that the design and content look good across devices.

The email’s looking wonderful, great job everyone! Keep in mind, right now you are seeing a standard preview, which will show only the fallbacks, so no personalization or dynamic content.

But obviously we need to test our personalization before we send, so let’s get to that. Next we are going to define our subscribers. Because this is a targeted campaign, we’re going to click on our list here and then click on the Renewal Reminder segment that we created earlier on. And then click Next.

Now in our campaign snapshot you should see an additional section for Preview with personalized content. You can preview personalized content in your campaign in two ways: either as a random recipient would see the campaign, or, as a specific recipient would.

I’m going to go ahead and type in a specific subscriber name. Wow, beautiful! We have the outreach manager and email, the first name, last donation date and amount. Great job!

Once you’re happy with your email content and confirmed that the personalization is populating as intended, you’re ready to schedule your delivery.

And that’s how we create personalized emails.

With personalization, collecting relevant subscriber and behavioral data is critical to sending unique, engaging emails. And some examples of data you can use to tailor your emails include geographical location, gender, interests and even send frequency. In this demo, we used the last donation date, a donation amount, and the outreach manager’s name to remind a subscriber of a prior donation, as to encourage them to donate again.

To actively collect data from our subscribers, we recommend using our signup forms and preference center.

With a subscriber preference center, your email recipients can change their subscription details. For example, they can self-update their name, email address, or any custom field information you have stored for them. For example, using a preference center, you could prompt subscribers to opt into email updates that are relevant to them, or set their desired email frequency. It puts the power in their hands and provides an alternative to simply having your otherwise disengaged subscribers choose to unsubscribe.

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