How to personalise your emails

Email, Personalisation, Strategy

What does personalisation mean?

One of the most key elements to modern email marketing is personalisation. People no longer respond to generic email blasts, we need to get smart and creative about the content we are sending to our subscribers. Since you know who your subscribers are, you can store information about them. You can then tailor your emails to the individual. This is the modern day equivalent of giving a personal touch. You want your subscribers to feel like you are speaking directly to them. The more personal your emails are, the more likely you are to convert your subscribers to buyers! So, let’s get personal, baby!

Imagine this: You spend some time browsing your favourite clothing brand’s website. The next day you receive an email from this clothing brand. The email features several products which just happen to be the products you were looking at and some similar products. Below that there is a map to your nearest store and next to that it shows your how many points you are away from a free gift. There is even a voucher for 10% off since it is your birthday month.

Now how likely are you to make a purchase after reading this email? For me probably about 99.9%, but I have a bit of an online shopping addiction. 🤫 This is the level of personalisation that should be your ultimate #emailmarketinggoals. In an ideal world your emails would 1:1, which means the content in your email is specific to one subscriber and no two emails would look the same. Ain’t nobody got time fo that! It least for building those emails manually. While this is achievable with modern automation tools, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. First let’s talk about what personalisation means.

Hi, Emilie…

Most of you have probably heard that personalisation can increase engagement with your emails. You probably added in a ‘Hi Emilie’ somewhere and left it at that. Virtually every email that I receive contains some sort of first name personalisation and sorry (not sorry), to say it is not enough!

So what kind of personalisation am I talking about? Well, your goal for your email marketing should be to deliver the right content to the right subscriber at the right time. Let’s break that down a little bit.

Right content

For starters, you need relevant content for your subscriber. If you get an email from Walmart featuring baby products and you don’t even have a damn baby then what good is that to you? Straight in the bin and you probably never open their emails again. So how do you know what content is relevant to your subscriber? Well, you subscriber will tell you with the info they give you, their behaviour and their preferences. The more you know about your subscribers the better, so record everything you can and store it in your database. Who, what, where, when, why and how – take it all!

Your emails MUST contain content that is relevant to your subscriber as an individual.

Right time

The content that you send might be relevant, but it might not come at the right time. Imagine a travel company has a subscriber who is interested in going to Croatia, but they send a Croatia holiday deal after they have already booked with a competitor. Chances are they aren’t going to book it again. That is a sale lost due to poor timing. Ouch. Getting timing right requires paying attention to when your audience perform certain actions. Do your subscribers often buy your product 2 days after your live webinar? That is when you should be sending an email follow-up.

You need to ensure you are delivering content to your subscribers WHEN it is relevant to them.

Types of Personalisation

Now that you understand a little bit better about what personalisation actually means, let’s dive into some ways you can personalise your email campaigns.

Personalise emails with variables and multiple versions
Personalise emails with dynamic content and triggered emails


Using variables involves inserting fields from your subscriber list directly into the body of your emails. This is what you do when you add in first name personalisation. If you have a column in your data named ‘First Name’, whatever is in that column for each individual will be repeated into your email. This is a copy and paste of exactly what you have in your subscriber list. Don’t forget to add a default if this field is empty or else you might end up with an unfinished sentence in your copy.

Multiple versions

Creating multiple versions involves segmenting your data into different groups. It is kind of like sorting your subscribers into different boxes. These groups share a common characteristic that you can base content on. You can then create multiple versions of your emails tailored to those specific groups. That way your customers are getting content that is more relevant to them because it fits with the group they have been put into. However, this is very time consuming! So unless the entire content for the email is going to be different or you only have a few groups to send to, I would try to use dynamic content instead.

Dynamic content

If you have lots of content that you want to vary the best way to do this is to include dynamic content blocks within your email. This can be a bit more technical (the stuff that I enjoy 😉), but it is worth it if you can set it up. How it works is that you will create sections within your email that will swap out based on a variable within your subscriber list. For example, you could set up your email to show a different image based on gender. You can also hide irrelevant content for your subscriber. For example, you could hide a banner at the bottom of your email for your freebie if the subscriber has already downloaded it. Simple, but very effective!

Triggered emails

Triggered/automated emails are a great way to introduce personalised content. Not only are they very effective, once they are set up you can leave them running to make you money in the background! 💰You will send an email based on an action, or a timeframe from when something is happening or happened. The beauty of this is that the content will always be relevant! You could try sending an email based on a milestone for your subscriber. For example, you could send an anniversary email of when your subscriber first signed up to your email list or made their first purchase with you.

Data you can use for personalisation

Browsing data

Email personalisation with browsing history

You can capture data based on what people search or what actions they take on your website. For example, an abandoned cart email personalised with the items the subscriber adds to their basket works incredibly well.

Purchase history

Purchase history to personalise emails

Based on what your subscriber has purchased in the past, you can send them a thank you or information about the item. You can also send upsells or product recommendations based on their purchased items.


Preferences to personalise emails

If you want to know what content your subscribers prefer to see you can just ask them! Create a preference centre where subscribers can choose the frequency of emails or the content they want to see.

Behavioural data

Behavioural data to personalise emails

You can use behavioural data about your subscriber to customise emails. Has the subscriber recently signed up for one your services? You can send them a personalised email asking about their experience.

Browsing data

Geographical information to personalise emails

If you have your subscribers address in your data you can personalise content based on location. For example, you can show the nearest store to them if you have a physical shop.

Purchase history

Basic information to personalise emails

You can personalise an email based on the individual information you hold about your subscriber. This would include things like first name, last name, email address, or gender.

Personalisation is a huge topic when it comes to email marketing, and I have only given you a brief overview. But it least now you have starting point and can have a look at where you might be able to add in some more tailored content to make your subscriber feel special and unique. Sign up below to get my free guidebook with some great tips on optimising your emails for more profit.

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