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    Personalized Emails: Valuable or Annoying?

    August 16, 2022
    8 minute read
    Personalized Emails: Valuable or Annoying?

    After navigating through swarms of travelers at a crowded, unfamiliar airport, your eyes finally catch it: a driver holding a sign ascribed with your name. Or, perhaps you’ve lost your group of friends at a sporting event, and suddenly feel relief as you hear a familiar voice call your name above the thousands of other conversations around you. 

    Most people already intuitively grasp the power of a personalized message to cut through noise and grab attention. It’s one of the reasons why personalization is quickly becoming one of the biggest trends in ecommerce strategy.

    In a world where shoppers are bombarded with a litany of touch points and channels, brands and retailers need all the help they can get to make a lasting connection. 

    And yet, despite all this competition for shoppers’ attention, many brands, retailers, and customers alike say they prefer connecting with one another via good old-fashioned email.

    According to HubSpot, 77% of marketers have seen an increase in email engagement over the last 12 months. And, as stated in Litmus’ “2021 State of Email” report, 70% of brands increased their email marketing workload last year. 

    So, it’s not surprising to see these two trends converge, with many brands and retailers increasingly embracing personalized emails as a way to stand out in prospects’ inboxes. Is it the right move for you?

    Are Personalized Emails More Valuable Than Generic Customer Emails? 

    In short? Almost always, yes.

    First, let’s be clear about what we mean by “personalized” in this context. While including your customer’s first name is a good start for any marketing email, your personalization strategy should, ideally, go far beyond that.

    You could incorporate elements such as a customer’s:

    • Purchase history;
    • Shopping preferences;
    • Location; and
    • Other collected data points. 

    This allows you to provide shoppers with automatically curated information relevant to their needs and experiences. 

    Why is this important? Here are a few things for brands and retailers to consider.

    Customers Expect Personalized Experiences

    Seventy-one percent of consumers expect companies to deliver personalized interactions, and even more (76%) become frustrated when this doesn’t happen, according to McKinsey & Company’s “Next in Personalization 2021 Report.”

    Personalization Drives Engagement

    Mailjet’s “Inbox Insights 2022” report asked best-in-class marketers to identify the top tactics for boosting email engagement, and more than half (59%) named personalization.

    A Substantial Return on Investment (ROI)

    On average, email marketing drives an impressive $36 for every dollar spent — a higher ROI than any other marketing channel, according to Litmus’ “CMO’s Guide to Email ROI” report. 

    Effective Examples of Email Personalization 

    Approaches to personalized emails can range from very basic to sizeably complex.

    A few common but worthwhile examples include:

    New Product Launches

    Rather than tell all of your customers about your new line of lawnmowers, why not tell just the customers who searched for lawn care products within the past 90 days?

    Effective personalization allows you to identify customers who might be interested in certain brands or types of products. 

    Targeted Promotions

    Has one of your customer’s previously searched products dropped in price? If so, why not let them know?

    Personalization powered by rigorous data collection allows you to identify customers who need a little nudge, and provide it accordingly. 

    Abandoned Cart Inquiries

    Address potential barriers to purchase by sending a personalized message following a customer’s cart abandonment with information about their selected items, FAQs, or special deals and promotions.

    Re-Engagement Efforts

    If a good chunk of your subscribers appears inactive, it might be worth reaching out — either to provide a welcome back offer, ask for feedback, or simply share your brand story. 

    Best Practices for Personalization

    Personalized email campaigns should be the result of a well-considered effort to understand your customers, their needs, and the ways to best strengthen your relationship with them over the long term. 

    A few points worth keeping in mind include: 

    Collect the Right Data

    You don’t want to overwhelm your shoppers with a lengthy sign-up sheet, but knowing as much as you can about your customers is never a bad thing.

    Collect demographic information like age, sex, and location, but also behavioral data like their recently viewed items, previous purchases, and other navigational habits. 

    Embrace Dynamic Content Throughout the Email

    While the subject line is important, you’ll really increase open rates if you consistently provide information in the body of your email that is personally relevant to the recipient.

    Don’t shy away from using lots of high-quality images or even videos to keep customers intrigued. 

    Always Be Testing

    Employ A/B testing for your subject lines, and keep a close eye on metrics like open rate, conversion rate, and bounce rate. 

    Don’t Overdo It

    Keep the personalization relevant, valuable, and subdued. While more and more customers continue to gravitate toward personalized experiences, brands and retailers that come off smarmy, reach out too often, or appear a bit “Big Brother” in orientation may turn customers off. 

    Monitor, Test, and Tweak

    While the benefits of personalization are simple to grasp, pulling off a successful campaign is often equal parts art and science. 

    Monitor your campaigns for customer responses, inactive subscribers, and other major data points, such as: 

    Click-Through Rate and Conversion Rate

    The click-through rate refers to the percentage of recipients who clicked on a link in an email, while the conversion rate refers to those who both clicked a link and completed the related call to action (CTA). These figures will make or break your campaign — the goal here is to keep them as high as possible. 

    Bounce Rate

    A bounce rate refers to the number of emails in your subscriber list that were found to be undeliverable — for whatever reason — by your mail server.

    You’ll want to remove these inactive accounts from your contact list if and when you identify them, as email service providers will often identify mass mailings with a high bounce rate as spam. 


    The crucial metric for any marketing campaign: Did your efforts bring in more money than you spent? If so, by how much? 

    Personalization Will Help Your Customers — And Your Bottom Line 

    While many brands and retailers are busy trying to stake a claim in marketing’s “Next Big Thing” — such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and Web3 — there’s perhaps a charming irony in the fact that a substantial number of shoppers continue to simply prefer email. 

    Considering the extensive value personalized emails can provide your customers — along all stops of the customer journey — investing in a rigorous email personalization strategy seems like a safe bet for nearly any ecommerce brand or retailer operating today. 

    Ready to level upyour personalization strategy? Check out the “Essential Steps for Building an Ecommerce Personalization Strategy” guide for tips on how to create effective personalized experiences that will drive engagement.


    Written by: Chris Caesar

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