5 Ways to Personalize Your Emails Without Scaring your Subscribers

March 26, 2015 By Claire Grayston

Think about your email inbox. What exactly is in there?

There’s that email from your old high school friend you haven’t seen in a year, an evite to your niece’s engagement party, and Facebook emails notifying you of comments on your new profile picture.

That is what your marketing emails are competing with.

Is your customer more likely to open your generic email or a personalized email from someone they actually know? The answer isn’t too hard to figure out.

And that’s why personalized emails are such a powerful element of your marketing strategy. Email marketing is one of the only opportunities you have to personally talk to your leads and customers.

In fact, personalized promotional emails have been proven to lift transaction rates and revenue six times higher than non-personalized emails.

So what tips can you implement to make sure your emails stand out in your subscriber’s inbox?

Let’s find out.

1. Subject Lines

I figured we’d start out with the obvious. I’m sure by now you’ve heard time and again that a personalized subject line will have a positive impact on your open rates. And it’s true. A personalized subject line has a 26% higher unique open rate than a generic subject line.

They’re one of the first things your recipients see when they notice they have a new email.

So how can you personalize this crucial combination of words?

  • Use their name to make them look twice – Including that individual’s name in the subject line grabs their attention and forces them to read what you have to say. As soon as you see your name you are inclined to learn more.

For example to a reader who has just downloaded our Facebook Ad ebook a few days prior we may say:

  • Use their geographic location to grab their attention – By making the email specific to that user’s geographic location, it may make it seem more relevant and valuable to read.

A Vancouver resident may receive:

  • Base the subject line on a recent site visit – To visitors who have viewed certain products or services on your website but never pulled the credit card trigger, target them with a specific subject line.

An ecommerce visitor who abandoned their cart days prior may receive a personalized subject line saying:

Subject lines are also very easy to test, meaning you can play around with different styles and decipher what works best for your email list.

2. Be Careful When Deciding on Your From Name

Who are you, as the email sender? Are you going to be known as John, John Smith, John Smith from Wishpond or simply Wishpond?

It may not appear to be a huge decision, but looks can be deceiving.

In fact, when using a real name instead of just a company name, open rates are proven to increase.

By using a real name along with the business you work for, it is still clear to recipients who you represent, but it comes across in a more welcoming and friendly way. Just simply putting the company’s name makes it seem more like sales and less like a one on one conversation.

After all, you should feel privileged to be in that recipient’s inbox, competing for their attention. Take advantage of the opportunity and communicate with them as if it were a real human relationship.

Some examples of how you can personalize your from address are seen below. Amy Porterfield’s name is its own brand so for her it serves the purpose of her name and a business.

subject lines

3. Use Merge Tags to Personalize Your Greeting

Another way to personalize your email (and not seem creepy) is to use merge tags in your greeting to your email recipient. It allows you to say hello like you would if you were face to face rather than a generic “Hello” or “Hi there.”

If you go to read an email and it said “Hi your name” would you be more willing to read on?

To most people the answer would be a resounding yes.

Merge tags allow you to place captured information from form fields in the past directly into your messages. They’re placeholders that allow you to customize your email messages with customer data.

For example a greeting merge tag would read “Hello [FIRST]” and be replaced with “Hello Claire.”

In addition to first names you could include merge tags such as recipients’ city, business name, career and so forth if you have captured that information previously.

To some of you who know about marketing automation and the personalization techniques you can use, this may seem elementary. But if you’re just starting out with email marketing and looking to increase your click-through rate, it can make a big difference.

4. Segment Recipients into Multiple Lists Based on Behaviour

Segment, segment, segment. Marketers have heard this time and time again. But do you realize how segmentation can affect the level of humanization and relevance to recipients?

In studies done by Hubspot, segmentation was proven to increase open rates by an average of 39% and the number of sales leads by 24%.

So what could you segment your lists based on?

  • Geography – The time of day that you send your emails is one way to seem more personalized. Segmenting leads based on where they live is one way to do so. That way when you say “Good morning Cindy!” you can be sure it’s actually morning where Cindy is located.

  • Recent purchases – Knowing what your recipient has recently purchased from you is a huge advantage for email marketing. You can target them specifically based on that purchase, in order to encourage them to buy other relevant or related items.

For example if a customer last week purchased a bikini from your clothing store, target her with emails such as:

“Hi _____”

We hope you’re loving your new “your store” bikini!

But did you hear that all sundresses and cover-ups are 40% off this weekend with the discount code: HDJG340.

Tomorrow until Sunday at Midnight PT is your chance to get that matching beach ready piece to go along with your new suit.


The [your store] Team

  • Content Downloads – Knowing what your own customer has or hasn’t done isn’t creepy, it’s doing your job. For B2B leads you need to nurture them with content into paying customers and one way to do that is through email marketing.

Segment leads based on content they have downloaded in the past or articles that they have read. By completing these actions you can discover their interests and needs and target them with specific, related emails in the future. For example at Wishpond we may send an ebook lead an email like this:

_“Hi ______,”

We hope you enjoyed our ebook “ The Complete Guide to Facebook Ads.”

We know how overwhelming it can be when starting out with Facebook Ads in terms of costs, design and targeting.

If you’re looking for more information we just recently published a free video course on Smart Facebook Ad Spending which has led many other marketers to great success.

Feel free to give it a watch and hopefully it will cure some of your possible confusion.


Claire Grayston
Digital Content Marketer

  • Usage – You can also personalize emails by segmenting individuals based on how active they are on your site. You may want to re-engage leads who have disappeared recently or reward leads who have shown recent interest.

This type of specific, individualized email makes them feel recognized and that they are important to your business. For example we may send an email that looks like this:

“Hi _____,”

We’ve noticed that you have been enjoying our blog the past few weeks and we’re so happy about it! In return we want to present you with a special discount offer.

This weekend receive 20% off your entire _______ purchase.

Thank you for being a loyal reader and customer, we hope you know how much we love you!


The ______ Team

5. Personality and Tone

So what is personalization actually?

As one dictionary definition would have it, it’s “to design or tailor to meet an individual’s specifications, needs, or preferences”.

So while including real names and basing your emails off of actions is one aspect of it, another part of personalization is to meet the recipient’s needs.

It’s to be human. And a large part of being human is in how you speak to people.

The tone and personality you include in your email marketing makes a huge difference when it comes to your open and engagement rates. You need to communicate in a way that your target audience will respond to.

Tone and personality is humanization, and thats what keeps you from becoming creepy. It lets you speak in a friendly, conversational tone.

Think about it. If you were speaking to your target audience of 18-30 year old women about a clothing product or 25-45 year old men about a fitness product your choice of words would probably be a tad different. The same goes for your email.

Having personality in your emails also means injecting a bit of you and your business’ culture into your email marketing. Show them a bit of who you are and you’ll be rewarded with more opens and clicks.

If you’re curious about adding personality and tone to your business or content communication, check out the Wishpond Content Team’s podcast on Personality and Tone in Business.


Personalization is that extra bit of sauce that makes the dish even more delicious. It’s what grabs the attention of recipients and sets you apart from the rest of the competition in that loaded inbox.

Have you tried personalization in your emails in the past? What methods have you tried that have been successful?

– Written by Claire Grayston

Claire is a digital content marketer at Wishpond. When not racking her brain for new content, you’ll find her hiking or snowboarding the local mountains.


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