You Need To Personalize Your Email Marketing. Here Are 6 Easy Ways To Do It.


How do we use contact data and AI to deliver people a personalized, relevant experience when they interact with a brand?

This was the central premise of most of the sessions at the Connections conference by Salesforce. Rightfully so! Everyone seems to be talking about how Artificial Intelligence – AI – (and the data AI collects), can assist with everything from content creation to conversations with customers.

Here are three things we know for certain about personalization in marketing:

  1. Customers expect personalized experiences. 71% of consumers expect personalized communications.
  2. Ads convert better when they’re personalized. 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when ads are personalized.
  3. Emails get more engagement when they’re personalized. Open rates rose by up to 26% with personalized subject lines, and revenue increased up to 5.7 times in emails with personalized content.

There is one important caveat — a line that you mustn’t cross — if you want to increase your marketing ROI with personalization: You can’t be creepy.

With that caveat out of the way, let’s look at how we can use effective personalization in your marketing.

6 ways to use customer data in email marketing personalization

Whether you’re using a full-scale CRM like Salesforce, or a simple mailing list on Mailchimp, there are easy and actionable ways to incorporate personalization into your email marketing.

Remember: Personalization is a process! Data collection takes time and effort, not to mention that data first needs to be “clean” (well organized) prior to it being customizable.

1. Hello, {first-name}! 👋

If you’re going to develop a relationship with anyone, anywhere, for any reason whatsoever, you probably want to know their name.

Seamlessly tying in your contacts’ names into a subject line, “to field,” or as a merge tag within the copy of your email is an easy, effective way to begin to introduce personalization into your email marketing.

2. Purchase history 💳

Purchase history is, perhaps, the most obvious way to personalize email content outside of adding a contact’s name to emails.

It stands to reason that if someone purchases a bike from your business, they may also need bikewear. Similarly, if someone purchases boating insurance, there’s a good chance they also have a cottage, trailer or lake house they need to insure.

This is a logical place for AI to enter the conversation. Based on those purchases, an assortment of related, best-selling products can be presented to the customer in a post-purchase email series.

3. Geography 🌎

Knowing where contacts within your database reside can help you send the right products to them at the right time.

For instance, a farmer in the prairies will need different insecticides than farmers in the East, and those insecticides will have to be used at different times of the year. Knowing where each farmer resides will help me, as a marketer, know what valuable product info to send them and when to send it.

Similarly, a clothing brand should know if their customer lives in Florida or North Dakota because each customer will have vastly different clothing requirements for the winter months.

There are many important bits of information about your contacts that can be revealed to you by their geography. Use this data to home in on your personalization efforts.

4. Birthday 🎂

If you know your contact’s birthday, send them a happy birthday message and include a discount code to a product or service.

If you don’t have birthday information on your contacts, ask for it!

Send your contacts an email that tells them that you want to send them a little gift on their birthday, but first, they’ll need to update their profile. Do this once a year for all the contacts who don’t have a birthday field filled out in your database.

5. Year in review 📅

At the end of every year, Spotify sends each account some interesting analytics about their listening habits through a marketing initiative called “Spotify Wrapped.”

Listeners will see metrics related to their interaction with the app, including:

  • Total play time
  • Top artist
  • Top song
  • Top genres
  • And more

This is an awesome way to add in-depth personalization to your marketing. People love to share their stats with friends on social media, which, in turn, ends up being free marketing for Spotify! If you have the capacity to share uber-personal analytics with contacts, do it.

However, not every business is going to have the capability to send such detailed information to each contact in their system. But most businesses will have broad analytics they could share with contacts and customers.

Here are some examples:

  • Donations made
  • Hours volunteered
  • Average money saved
  • Most popular product
  • Growth of internal team
  • New customers acquired

Think of some cool industry-related metrics you could share with your database and give them insight into your business — people want to know more about you!

6. Interests ❗️

Perhaps the coolest presentation at the Salesforce Connections Conference was about the partnership between Salesforce and Formula 1.

F1 began using customer data within their Salesforce ecosystem to deliver personalized experiences for each fan based on that data those fans provided.

Practically, this can be applied not only to emails, but also to website pages. Based on the information F1 has gathered on people like you (e.g., you updated your profile to say that Ferrari was your favorite team), you will be fed web content that aligns with your favorite teams and drivers.

AI is your friend when it comes to marketing personalization

Every conversation at Connections was tied into AI. Everyone wants to know how businesses can leverage machine learning and natural language processing to help bring customers down the buyer’s funnel quicker by feeding them more valuable content.

As an example, if your website uses a chatbot, marketers should begin thinking about how that chatbot can have a conversation with the website visitor about their wants and needs.

Using an example similar to one given at the conference, imagine you are a marketer for a company that sells stationery. Through a chatbot conversation with a website visitor, you learned that they wanted to purchase a journal for their partner along with a nice ballpoint pen that had fast-drying ink because they are lefthanded and regular ink smudges whilst writing. It’s a gift for their birthday on August 1. Their budget was $200.

Without ever needing a salesperson to step in, the AI has learned several things about the customer:

✅ They can spend up to $200
✅ They need a journal
✅ They need a ballpoint pen
✅ They have a partner
✅ Their partner is lefthanded
✅ Their partner’s birthday is August 1

From a personalized birthday email (with a discount code) to potential upselling based on the above data, the potential to increase the lifetime value of this website visitor you “met” five minutes ago has shot up exponentially.

This kind of information can be parlayed into a curated email or a phone call from a salesperson to help them choose the perfect gift for their partner.

While not all these examples provide a one-to-one comparison for your industry and business, they can provide inspiration for ways to incorporate personalization and AI into your marketing and sales processes vis-a-vis your CRM of choice.

Start with your contacts’ first names and work from there.

Have fun personalizing your marketing, {first-name}!

Andrew Donovan

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