How To Get Started With Email Personalisation in 5 Steps

08/10/2020, Optimisation, Guest Blogger

Time for another blog takeover! Tom Ricards, Account Director at personalisation platform Fresh Relevance, is here to discuss how you can get started with a five-star email personalisation strategy.

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Any email marketer worth their salt will tell you that bombarding your database with blanket bulk emails won’t get you results. With a staggering 306 billion emails being sent each day, and consumers’ rising expectations for tailored customer experiences, email marketers have to go the extra mile if they want to catch shoppers’ attention.


Enter email personalisation, the tried and tested way to boost open rates, click-throughs and conversions. 


Email personalisation is when marketers engage subscribers with targeted email campaigns based on data and information they have about them. There are plenty of effective entry level personalisation tactics, such as adding your customer’s name to the subject line, but to really stand out in your customers’ crowded inboxes, you’ll need to take your email personalisation to the next level. 


Read on for our five steps to getting started with email personalisation, where we’ll take a look at how to grow your subscriber base, splitting your subscribers into meaningful segments, and conversion-boosting email personalisation tactics.


#1 Data capture


Successful email personalisation starts with collecting quality email addresses for your database. The use of a pop-up or popover form on your website can contribute to this. In fact, Fresh Relevance customer Feel Good Contacts increased newsletter sign-ups by 333% through targeted popovers. 


When implementing pop-ups and popovers, timing and context are key. Your pop-ups and popovers will be most effective when they are prompted by shoppers’ actions and inactions, and should be triggered based on when they will have the most impact, for example at the moment of cart abandonment.


#2 Segmentation


Segmentation allows marketers to take control of customer data to drive revenue and improve the customer experience by delivering highly relevant content to shoppers at the moment they are most engaged.


Today’s email marketers have a huge amount of data available at their fingertips, meaning there’s no excuse to segment your subscribers by age, gender or postal address. Instead, try segmenting customers based on favourite colours, preferred price points, and frequently visited pages, for example. 


When targeting content based on segments, rules should be set up to ensure that customers are not shown content promoting something they have already bought. It’s therefore vital that data from all your customer touchpoints is collected and coordinated in real time, so a shopper can be removed from a segment as soon as they have converted.


#3 Personalised product recommendations


Now let’s take a look at some popular email personalisation tactics. First up, we have personalised product recommendations


Not all product recommendations are personalised, and while there’s value in recommendations based on bestsellers and items on sale, personalised product recommendations can have a greater impact on email revenue. Here are the stats to prove it. Fresh Relevance user Vision Direct increased click-throughs by 557% with personalised product recommendations in their emails. 


Try suggesting products that the customer has frequently browsed or purchased or show them which products other shoppers like them purchase.


Viovet adds a personalised touch to their email newsletters by highlighting top picks for each individual based on their past purchase and browse data. 



#4 Dynamic images


The second email personalisation tactic we’re going to look at is dynamic images. 


Your hero banner is the one and only chance you have to make a good first impression on your recipient. And since the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text, it pays to use your banner wisely. Combine dynamic content with behavioural and contextual data so you can respond to the shopper’s interests and brand preferences as well as location, season and weather. 


FFX adds dynamic hero banners to their cart and browse abandonment emails, showing customers images based on the brand of the carted product. The emails have proven successful for FFX, achieving an impressive click to open rate of 45%



#5 Testing and optimisation


Email personalisation isn’t a case of set and forget. To maximise the effectiveness of your email personalisation efforts, you’ll need to test, measure and optimise campaigns on an ongoing basis. Set up A/B testing and control groups to work out how your email content is contributing to engagement and sales, and make sure you set KPIs so you can decide on the winning variation using real data. 


Here are a few A/B test ideas to get you started.


Product recommendations


There are many different types of personalised product recommendations, so test which types resonate best with your audience. Perhaps you’ll convert more customers with ‘people like you buy’ recommendations that compare the shopper’s product purchase history with other shoppers who’ve viewed those products to suggest the most likely eventual purchases. Or maybe you’ll have more success suggesting products in the shopper’s favourite brand or colour, for example.


Dynamic images


As discussed earlier, the hero banner is crucial when it comes to making a good first impression on your recipient. So make sure you test different versions to find your customers’ sweet spot. For example, try comparing the performance of dynamic banners featuring the shopper’s favourite brand with dynamic banner content based on the live weather at the shopper’s geolocation at the moment of engagement to provide them with relevant product recommendations, such as winter boots if it’s snowing. 


Dynamic subject lines


Using name personalisation in subject lines is a popular email marketing tactic. But have you tried adding different types of personalisation to your subject lines, such as the customer’s favourite brand? One Fresh Relevant client used A/B testing in their shopping abandonment emails to measure the difference between dynamic subject lines featuring the carted and browsed brand and subject lines containing name personalization. They found that during the Christmas period, dynamic subject lines containing the browsed brand outperformed subject lines with name personalisation by an impressive 209%, demonstrating the importance of testing the best tactics for your business. 




With the number of emails filling up consumers’ inboxes growing exponentially, along with expectations for tailored customer experiences, email marketers need to pull out all the personalisation tactics in their email marketing toolkit to delight consumers, encourage click-throughs and boost sales. The five steps listed in this post can serve as a starting point in your email personalisation journey, or as a checklist to ensure you’re maximising the personalisation potential of your marketing emails. 


For more email personalisation tips and tricks and top campaign examples from leading brands, download our guide: 6 ways to drive more email revenue.


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About the author

Tom Ricards

As Account Director at Fresh Relevance, Tom works with renowned brands in the ecommerce and travel space to ensure success with their content personalisation programs in email and online.

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