Master Email Personalization with these 5 Best Practices

By sending targeted emails, you can better connect with subscribers and grow your business. Here are 5 email personalization best practices to keep in mind.

Targeting subscribers and sending them personalized, hyper-relevant emails is a great way to better connect with the people on your email list.

It allows you to deliver the right message to people who want and need it most. And the more you can do that with your emails, the more likely you are to expand your reach and nurture your audience until they become customers and loyal advocates of your brand.

But how can you optimize your emails so you’re making the most out of the opportunity to engage subscribers?

Let’s take a closer look at best practices for personalizing your emails to the right people on your email list.

1. Identify your goals.

If you haven’t written down what you hope to achieve by personalizing your emails, now’s the time to do so.

Whenever you think about ways to optimize your emails, it’s important to understand why you’re optimizing them. You don’t want to throw in a subscriber’s first name simply because someone else did it and you thought it was fun. Make sure it helps you achieve your goal, whether that’s to boost your engagement rates like email opens.

After all, there are different ways to personalize your emails. You can send an email with a personalization field, like a subscriber’s first name, or you can email specific, contextual content to a targeted group of subscribersBy identifying your goals, it’ll make it easier for you to determine how to personalize your messages.

As you think about how you want to improve your communication with subscribers, some questions you might ask yourself include:

  • Do you want to embrace a more conversational tone?
  • Do you want to include specific details of subscriber information?
  • Do you want to send more relevant content based on your subscribers’ needs and interests?

For each scenario, consider how you might be able to achieve the goal you’re looking for through personalization. If you want to embrace a more conversational tone, for example, addressing a subscriber by her first name can be a subtle way to achieve that. Adding a first name personalization field might also help your email stand out in the inbox and catch your subscriber’s attention.

Or, if you want to send the right message to the right group of people who would find it most relevant, you may want to segment subscribers to deliver targeted content.

By having an idea of what problem you want to solve, you’ll be able to identify the best way to segment subscribers and deliver more personalized emails.

2. Collect the right data.

Once you have an idea of how you want to send targeted emails, make sure you’re collecting the right information so you can make it happen.

If you want to send targeted emails that include a subscriber’s first name, confirm you’re collecting first names in the sign up form. If not, adjust your form to include a first name field, like this sign up form featured on our Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing:

Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing _ Email Personalization Best Practices

If your goal is to send personalized emails based on a subscriber’s specific interests,  you might want to ask for that information on the sign up form. Or, send a survey out to your subscribers so you can see what people are interested in, and follow up with relevant email content.

If you want to send a one-off email based on how subscribers engaged with a previous message, you can also create a segment based on actions like opens and clicks.

As you consider ways to optimize your sign up form so you can send personalized emails, avoid asking for too much information. Including too many fields can be overwhelming for your potential subscribers, and you don’t want to create a barrier that could prevent them from joining your list.

If you do include more than just name and email address, I encourage you to emphasize the value of your emails. You might even want to explain what kind of targeted content you’ll deliver if a subscriber shares more information about themselves.

3. Use personalization naturally.

Once you’re collecting the right data, there’s one rule to keep in mind: With great personalization power comes great responsibility.

Personalized content should feel natural and not forced. Do it if it makes sense for the goals you have for your broadcast emails or automated campaigns. Does adding the first name to a subject line bring additional value, or are you just doing it to try it? Do you really need to set multiple campaigns for different sign up forms if the emails aren’t too different from one another?

Another helpful way to think about it is by looking back at the goals you originally set. Whether you use personalization fields or contextual content, it should either make it easier for you to create the email or help you establish a personal connection with your email community.

4. Get creative.

While there are a variety of ways in which you can personalize your emails, I like to break it out into two strategies: personalization fields and contextual content.

Personalization fields allow you to automatically populate an email with specific subscriber’s information, like their first name or city.

Contextual content allows you to send relevant content to targeted segments of subscribers, like a broadcast message to re-engage those who haven’t opened an email in over six months.

Since there are so many pieces of information you can collect about your subscribers and ways to send hyper-relevant emails, there are endless opportunities for you to get creative with both strategies.

For example, personalization fields aren’t limited to subject lines. You can pepper them into your email content to better hold the attention of your readers. Here’s an example from one of our customers Honoree Corder, a writer, speaker and coach to authors looking to publish books:


For contextual content, consider how you might be able to target automated campaigns to your different subscribers. You can send them campaigns based on what incentive they signed up for, their geographical location or experience level.

One way to find out what your subscribers really need is by referencing any common questions they’ve asked. Are there individuals who want information based on their industry or personal situation? Are there others like that person? If you’re low on ideas, this can be a good place to start.

5. Test your emails.

Testing your emails is a must-do for most people who send email, and it’s especially important if you’re doing things like adding personalization fields or triggering multiple types of automated campaigns.

After you create your emails that feature personalization fields, send a test to yourself to make sure the right information is being pulled in correctly. If subscribers first names should appear, confirm that’s actually happening. If you’re using AWeber to send your emails, you can add personalization field content so you can view it in your test email.

If you’re sending broadcasts to a targeted subscriber segment, carefully set up the process so that the email is only going to that group. If triggering different automated campaigns, test the sign up process to make sure the right follow up sequence is launching with the right actions.

Tweak and test as needed until everything looks good to go!

Start personalizing your emails today

There are a variety of ways in which you can better connect with subscribers and I encourage you to choose one of these new tactics to try in your next email send!

Want more ideas to help you write better emails? Sign up for our What to Write in Your Emails Course (and get 45+ free email copy templates)!

what to write


  1. Tanja

    2/24/2017 4:38 am

    Good tips! Collecting the right data seems to be a little hard!

  2. Doğalgaz ile Tasarruf Yöntemleri

    2/25/2017 2:32 am

    ana e posta kişiselleştirme hakkında çok iyi biz yazı olmuş ama uygularken biraz zorlanacak gibi duruyor yinede teşekkürler.