Email Marketing—Don’t take it personal, personalize

One of the biggest pushes in marketing today is personalization. Personalization is essential in many facets of marketing; more so in email marketing than any other form. We all receive so much spam per day that many have taken to using a spare email that we don’t check unless we are expecting something an E-book or some other reward from the form we just filled out. However, spam also creeps into the emails we do check every day. Most of us mass delete the spam in our emails and only read the emails that are important to us. We make these decisions very quickly, so what is in your subject line is of critical importance. Once the email is viewed, often in the preview pane, what the reader sees in the first 3 seconds will determine whether your emails wind up in the trash, or if they get read, and possibly get the clicks and the conversions for which you are looking.

Why is personalization so important?

The internet is filled with information and advertisements. Most of the spam we get is complete junk. A lot of times we don’t take the time to hit unsubscribe, though, by ICANN rules, the sender must unsubscribe you. While I’ll admit, taking that time would likely save you a lot of spam, it’s just often easier to trash the emails you don’t want. That is if they don’t land in your spam folder automatically.

Personalization is essential to get your emails opened. If someone sees something relevant and timely to them in the subject line, they are likely to read the first line or two of your email at least. Personalization can make the difference between someone reading, clicking and converting and someone who deletes your email, or worse yet, sends them to spam.

Luckily, there are easy ways to personalize your emails and get them opened more often.

1.     Always make your subject line specific and personal.

Even the barest bones of bulk email senders allow for a great deal of personalization and automation. Your subject line should have something personal to the user. For instance, you are a pet groomer, and you have a client, “Carla,” who has a female poodle named “Speckles.” Speckles is a pampered pooch. She comes in to the “spa” every 2 to 3 months to get groomed. Your email reminder (that your client requested be sent to her every two months) could read: “Reminder, it’s time for your dog’s grooming.” But, if it did, it would probably go unnoticed and get deleted like the rest of the spam. A good subject line, in this case, would be “Is Speckles ready for a spa visit?” Or, better yet, “Carla, save 5% by booking Speckles next appointment now.” (Call to action)

2.     Use the preview line for further personalization.

The preview text is your second chance to make a first impression. Use it. Most bulk email clients do let you use the first line from your email. That is usually the easiest, as you will be personalizing the first line, correct?

3.     Personalize the contents of the email even more.

In our above example, you might say something like “Just like you, girls like Speckles need to put on their Sunday best every now and again. Poodles, especially, need to get rid of that winter coat and put on their summer one. Hot weather is coming!” Or, “Last time Speckles was in she had a bath, will Speckles want a haircut this time, too, Carla?” (Upsell)

Are there cons to email personalization?

Indeed, like anything, there are drawbacks. Since spammers have used personalization, especially first names, in their marketing for quite some time now, sometimes it comes off as fake. It is certainly better to use personalization that shows your subscribers that you do know them if you are a small business. Remember, as Dale Carnegie said, “remember that a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language.” Studies have shown that using the first name of the person in the subject line increase open rates up to 26%. Therefore, despite the risks, I’d opt for using the first name. However, you can always try a split a/b test to find out what works best for your audience.   

If you do use personalization, you want to make sure you show that you know and understand the person, rather than seeming like you are just there to sell something. When I see an email or get a phone call asking for Christine, it is someone who doesn’t know me. There are several variations on my name, and if someone uses the wrong one, I realize they don’t know me and am more likely to say, “she’s not here,” or, in the case of email, delete it. You want to put their preferred name in your database, not their “legal” one. If you must have their legal name for some reason, also make sure to have a field for a nickname.

Using another personalization as I mentioned above with the subject line referring to “Speckles” and her spa appointments can help further. It shows you know something that the person might want to know.

Of course, just as I mentioned previously, many people are using an email address that they don’t check outside of the 5 minutes they check for the e-book you just sent. Additionally, some people fill in silly names on the forms. Therefore, you do risk sending something to “Real,” or another word (sometimes even profane.) These emails are unlikely to be opened. It is a good idea to check your list every so often and purge those contacts.


While personalization can come off as overly familiar or fake familiarity, it does still get higher open rates. With the options in email platforms today, you can so easily personalize so many aspects of your email program. If you want to make more sales with your email marketing, personalization is simply a must. Call Christy’s Marketing Solutions, today, to increase your email marketing campaign’s success.