Unlock the Power of Email Personalization: Boost Engagement & Sales

email personalisation

Email personalization is no longer just a cool and “nice to have” add-on to email marketing. In today’s crowded inboxes, personalization is no longer optional, and is an absolute must-have.

Now, don’t let this scare you. This does not mean that you have to utilize the most complex and advanced forms of personalization. It’s fine to ease into it, and start with the easy high-leverage stuff first. In fact, that’s why we prepared this step-by-step guide for you.

The essence of email personalization

If you have followed what marketing gurus and software companies talk about, you might have the wrong idea when it comes to personalization. You might even think that personalization is “when email communication is perfectly tailored to each and every one individual customer journey”.

However, personalization doesn’t have to be that fine-grained in order to work, and in fact, even much less advanced forms can give you massive benefits. At its core, email personalization simply means that the emails a subscriber receives are targeted. That is to say, you’re not sending the exact same message to every subscriber on your list, all at the exact same time. 

email personalisationIf you personalize even one factor (the timing, which email is sent to whom, or any of the content in the email), you are doing personalization. And as you’ll see in a moment, this is easier than you think. 

Furthermore, doing any personalization at all can give you a massive benefit. This means you can start off by doing the easy stuff, and get more elaborate over time. No need to feel guilty about doing “simple personalization”.

Why email personalization is a must

The main reason why personalization is a must today is because the modern email user expects it as a given. The large corporations have spent many billions of dollars getting users accustomed to a personalized online experience. 

This means that users today come to expect it to such a level that email without personalization feels “off” to them. It essentially feels “spammy”, even if you received full consent to start sending emails. 

It might sound unfair at first glance, but when you realize how simple and fun personalization can be, it’s actually a good thing. And why is it a good thing? A lot of your competitors are still failing to utilize it, so that gives you an easy competitive advantage.

Here’s what happens the moment you implement personalization

The moment that you implement deliverability, your engagement rates will go up, instantly. And if you read our super popular guide on email profitability, you will realize what it entails.

Essentially, engagement is the one key factor that influences almost everything that you want to improve in email marketing. It will boost your conversion and clickthrough rates, your deliverability will improve, all of which means that you make more profit via email. Quite a good deal is it not?

Levels of personalization

If you’ve read our other articles (and you should), you will know we like to help you get quick results by giving you a way to prioritize.

email personalisationNot everything that you can do in email marketing has the same level of urgency and importance. The same is true for email personalization. Some of the things that you can do in terms of personalization are much simpler and easier, and should be done from day one. Others, you can get started with over time.

1) Start using merge tags

Let me be as blunt as possible here. If you’re not using merge tags in your emails, you need to stop everything that you’re doing, and put some into your most important sequences right now. If you have a welcome sequence, please update it to refer to the subscriber by name. And going forward, make sure to use them at any opportunity.

This is one of those things in email where the “cost to implement” is so tiny (literally seconds), yet the result is substantial and immediate. Even if you did nothing else in this guide, simply implementing merge tags will do wonders to eliminate most of the danger in seeming “spammy” to subscribers. 

That isn’t to say that you should not implement anything else, but merge tags are an absolute must, from day one.

2) Build and use basic segments

When it comes to things you must implement from day one, basic segments definitely qualify. Unlike merge tags they take more than a couple of seconds to implement, but are still quite simple, at least if you decide to keep it simple.

With an advanced platform like Emercury you can get pretty elaborate in terms of the kinds of data that you gather via subscriber behavior. This is just a fancy way of saying that you can tag users differently based on their actions.

Did you send out an email with an offer on men’s clothing? Well, if they click through on that, you can give them an appropriate tag, or set a custom field value. And with custom events, you can even give subscribers a value based on whether they visited a certain page a given amount of times.

However, just because the possibilities are endless with a platform like Emercury, it doesn’t mean that this is where you want to get started. At the start, you want to keep it simple, by defining some major segments based on the main differentiations relevant to your business.

Since this is a generalized guide, I cannot tell you what these differentiations are in your business, but you should try to gather this data either during signup, or during the welcome sequence.

For example, if you’re a B2B business, you might ask about their number of employees. If you run a fitness newsletter, you might ask what their goal is, putting on muscle, or losing weight.  Then, you will want to segment your list based on these main differences between the subscribers. Over time you can get more elaborate and produce finer segments based on more complicated conditions. To start though, identify the really big differentiators, and go with that.

Start with basic personalization via basic segments

Don’t let the name “basic” fool you here. This refers to how simple and straightforward it is, not to getting basic results. When it comes to email marketing, basic segmentation is foundational and will be responsible for most of your results. 

Getting more elaborate later on will give you increasingly diminishing returns, so think of “basic personalization via segments” as the 80/20 that gives you most of your results.

With that said, once you have split up your list into several segments based on the type of subscriber, you can then proceed to simply send different emails (or even offers) to the different segments. 

Yes, it really is that simple. You look at the different segments as the different main “customer personas”, and then when you send emails, you consider which segments a given email is relevant for.

The next step up from that is to build segments based on engagement. You can have segments for people who open more or less of your emails, or even based on whether they opened specific emails, if that is relevant to your use case.

Then, you can make sure that you have a different sending frequency for the high-responders vs the colder leads. 

Side note: the segment builder that grows with you

One of philosophies that we follow at Emercury is that we want all of our features to scale along with your skill level and needs. That is to say, the feature should be easy to use and intuitive when you’re just starting out, but also allow for advanced use cases later on.

This is true both for our journey builder, as well as our advanced segment builder. Don’t let the name fool you. While it was built to allow for effortless creation of advanced segments, it is just as easy to utilize for basic segments. 

If you want to simply have a segment where the only condition is that the subscriber has a single specific given tag, you can do that.

And if you later get to the point where you gather a bunch of data on your subscribers, you can build segments that look at a complicated combination of inclusion and exclusion criteria.

3) Smart personalization technology

This one is kind of a hack, an intermediate step between the basic and more complex personalization techniques. It is also unique to Emercury, and not seen on most platforms.

You see, the way we came up with “smart personalization” is that we wondered if there was a way to take the simplicity and ease of merge tags, but take it to the next level. This is where smart personalization comes in. It is like “merge tags on steroids”.

It is a nifty feature where you can take entire parts of the email and have them display different content based on certain criteria. The ease of use is the same as with that of merge tags, but as you imagine it allows for some truly personalized experiences.

The reason that it is simple is that you can still only have only a limited number of relatively simple automations and segments. You’re still sending the “same email” to the entire segment, yet you can have it show different combinations of content to different recipients.

It is a kind of a hack to allow you to get a lot more granular results, without having to complicate your segments and automations too much. With that said, let’s look at this level next.

4) Complex conditionals and more granular segmentation data

This is the kind of stuff that you will see marketing gurus talk about, essentially because it makes them sound cool. It’s similar with email platforms where they want to wow the email marketing novices with how “elaborate” an automation can get.

Essentially, this is the point at which you try to account for all kinds of different scenarios and possibilities, and then create different automation paths for each. This means going into your automations and implementing additional “if this, then that” conditions, which lead to different actions, paths and emails. 

For example if a person opens email 2, but not email 3, but does open email 4, then send this email, and if not, apply this tag. But if this other sequence of events happens, then apply this other tag, and start this special new sequence. 

It is exceptionally easy to go overboard with this

Since there is an infinite amount of scenarios or paths a customer can take, there also an infinite number of automation paths you can define. Which is why it is very easy to get carried away. 

Also note that this goes beyond just sending different emails based on the different (possibly infinite number) of scenarios. It also involves gathering ever more granular data. For example, if a person visits your pricing page, plays a video, but does not open email 2, then assign this special custom tag.

You can really go overboard and come up with an infinite amount of things to track via the different segmentation data options as well. This is why I would recommend that you spend as much time maxing out the first 3 levels before you ever start complicating things unnecessarily.

Remember that with smart personalization you can actually achieve quite similar results, without needing to have an endless amount of different automation pathways. You can, instead, simply have the same email show different content to different users. That should cut down on the number of automations branches that you create.

Get A Strategic Partner On Your Side

There’s no need to go at this alone. While we do put out a lot of free content to help you, nothing beats a one-on-one conversation. In these articles we try to help clarify things as best as possible. However, every business is different, so we have to generalize.

If you want to understand better how to implement email marketing in your specific business, let’s have a chat. At the moment I am still able to do some free demos, so be sure to book one while I can still do these.

I would love to hear about your specific needs, challenges and any confusion you might have about email marketing strategies, including email segmentation. And then, help you see how you can use Emercury to improve your bottom-line.

Alternatively, or in addition to booking a free demo, you can also grab a username for our forever-free-plan while we still have it. It’s probably the most generous email marketing automation plan on the planet. We include almost every feature in this plan, with very few restrictions.

Remember, you get to keep this plan for life, for free… Provided that you grab a username while registrations are still open. Note that we might decide to pull this way-too-generous offering at any point. So click that link to check if we still allow registrations.

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