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How to Create an Email Personalization Strategy

When developing your email marketing strategy, you need to think about a lot of factors, such as deliverability and your email design—but one of the most important elements to consider is email personalization.

Let’s take a look at what an email personalization strategy is, and how to develop one to drive better engagement with your customers.

What is an Email Personalization Strategy?

Email personalization refers to the elements of your emails that are customized on a user-by-user basis. This might include dynamic content within your emails themselves, as well as other factors such as email send time or design optimization.

Here are some email elements that you might personalize:

  • User name in header
  • User address or location
  • Recommended products
  • Customer sizes
  • Favorite brands
  • Loyalty points earned
  • Send time
  • Send date
  • Subject line (i.e., including customer’s name)

Through your email service provider you should be able to include dynamic content fields that automatically populate with specific information based on the user’s individual data. If you’re in the travel and hospitality industry, for example, and a customer lives in Houston, your travel brand can send them recommendations for hotels within a two-hour drive for a quick weekend getaway. Or, if they’ve previously visited Florida in December, you can build an automated workflow that promotes your Florida hotel deals for a winter break vacation.

The goal with email personalization is to make sure that you’re offering each customer what they want, so that they’ll be highly engaged with your content throughout their entire customer journey.

To develop an effective email personalization strategy, you need to make sure you understand your customers. That means getting the right data.

Integrate Your Customer Data

Personalizing your emails, at scale, requires segmenting your user base on various levels. Beyond the basics, such as region, new versus returning customer, and type of customer, there are many potential variables that can come into play, including demographic, sociographic, and behavioral data. This information can be gathered by aggregating data from all of your marketing technology solutions, including your CRM, your email marketing platform, your website and app analytics, and your e-commerce platform, and others. By pulling all of your data insights together in one centralized marketing platform, you can get a complete 360-degree picture of your customers.

From here, you can segment your user base on a granular level, build customized campaigns in direct response to their behaviors and preferences, and include real-time sequences based on trigger actions.

Next, let’s look at how to build an email personalization strategy for both planned campaigns and triggered email sequences.

Determine Planned vs. Triggered Email Marketing Sequences

Planned campaigns might include site-wide promotions for special offers that are sent to all users, or all users within a certain category (i.e. parents of school-age children for a promotion on backpacks), as well as customized emails based on specific dates relevant to the user.

For example, you can create an email personalization strategy based on the user’s birthday, offering them a free gift. Or, if they purchase items that need to be restocked frequently, like bags of coffee, you can send them a reminder to re-buy at planned intervals.

You can also build sequenced campaigns targeting inactive users in a winback sequence. For instance, if a customer hasn’t opened an email in 30 days, your email marketing platform can send them a promotion for a substantial discount to help them re-engage with your brand. The message can also be customized with personalized data based on preferences or purchase history, such as brands they’ve previously purchased or browsed.

For real-time triggered personalization, you can develop sequenced campaigns in direct response to an individual user’s actions on your site, in your app, or in your store. Going back to the travel and hospitality industry, for example, if a customer visited one of your hotels and completed an in-app checkout, you can send an immediate follow-up email with a customer survey, and an offer for a discount on other hotels in their region.

If a customer is browsing your website, and clicks on a product link but doesn’t make a purchase (an abandoned browse), you can send them a customized email with a promo code for a discount on that specific product. Or, if they added an item to their shopping cart but didn’t complete checkout, you can send a cart abandonment email encouraging them to return to the site or app to complete their purchase, with all of their information auto-filled to streamline the process.

Create Cross-Channel Personalization

To personalize your marketing campaigns even further and heighten user engagement, you can go beyond your email personalization strategy and deliver personalized cross-channel marketing sequences.

Using a robust cross-channel marketing platform like Iterable, you can create highly segmented campaigns that personalize both your messaging and your delivery across multiple marketing channels, including email, SMS, in-app messages, push notifications, direct mail, and social media. Your sequence can begin on one channel and trigger messages across other channels, based on the customer’s response or lack of response.

Developing an email personalization strategy, and expanding that across a cross-channel marketing strategy, is a highly effective way to drive engagement and build ongoing brand loyalty. Personalization helps you show your customers that you understand them and what they’re looking for—making them more likely to come back to your brand again and again.

Iterable is a cross-channel marketing platform that powers unified customer experiences and empowers marketers to create, optimize and measure relevant interactions and experiences customers love. Leading brands, like Cinemark, DoorDash, Calm, Madison Reed, and Box, choose Iterable to power world-class customer experiences throughout the entire lifecycle. Discover our growth marketing solutions for personalization, increasing customer engagement, and more. Discover our platform and schedule a demo today.