How to Make an Automated Email “Feel” Personal (and Why You Should)

Guest Author

What are the 3 metrics that you look for in an email campaign’s report?

Well, if you’re anything like me (or like most other email marketers), you’ll immediately look for:

  1. your campaign’s open rate
  2. its click through rate
  3. and the number of unsubscriptions

After all, no matter what your campaign’s goal is, you can’t IGNORE these metrics.


What if I were to tell you that there’s a tactic you can use to improve all these metrics… automagically? 

You’d be interested, right? 

Who wouldn’t be! So here it is—EMAIL PERSONALIZATION.

A research conducted by Experian showed that personalized subject lines drove a 26%  higher overall unique open rates for companies across different niches. 


Not only that, personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%. Email personalization also brings down the number of unsubscriptions by making the email content relevant to the subscribers.

I’ll first give you a primer on how email personalization works and the “tools” you’ll need, and then we’ll see some tactics you can use to make your automated emails feel personal.

Personalizing automated emails

In personalized email marketing, you don’t bombard your list with the same email. Instead, you send your subscribers an email that’s personalized for them.

Personalized emails use your subscriber’s details to tailor the email’s subject line and content.

Email personalization uses details like a subscriber’s:

  • name
  • demographics
  • gender
  • interests
  • age
  • date of joining the list
  • interactions and engagement with the product (shopping or browsing history)

A quick note about “email personalization tools”

I’m sure when you hear the term “email personalization”, you wonder about all the DATA you’ll need and the different TOOLS that will get you this data.

But there are no special email personalization tools—all you need is INTEGRATION between whatever customer management tool you use and your email marketing software.

Based on your personalization requirements, you can integrate your email marketing service with any of the following tools:

  • CRM software (like Salesforce or HubSpot)
  • eCommerce platform (for e.g., Shopify or BigCommerce)
  • Accounting solution (like Quickbooks or Freshbooks)

The above tools pass on their data to the email marketing service that uses it to deliver personalized campaigns.

How to start personalizing your emails

As you saw in the first section, you can personalize your emails with such basic information as your subscribers’ names. You can also use information like their demographics, gender, date of joining and others.

For a higher degree of personalization, you will have to use segmentation and data from your CRM tool.

Let’s now see some of the most effective email personalization techniques that you can start implementing today.

Personalize your email’s subject line

If you’re just starting with personalization, I’d recommend that you begin with personalizing your subject line. All you need to personalize a subject line is your subscriber’s name – something you can collect right in your email signup form.

When MarketingSherpa conducted A/B tests on 7 personalized subject lines, they found that the personalized subject lines got higher open rates. Each time. The higher open rates resulted in a 17.36% higher average click through rates.

As you can see in the following screenshot – the only difference between the two versions is that of personalization using the subscriber’s first name:


Despite being effective, about 70% businesses fail to leverage personalized email subject lines

Personalize your email’s content based on your list segments

I’m sure we’ve all, at some point, unsubscribed from a great list. What do you think prompts people to unsubscribe after opting-in for a list?

According to Epsilon, it’s irrelevant content. Epsilon reports that a whopping 64% of unsubscriptions happen because people find the email content irrelevant

Luckily, email personalization can bring this down.

To personalize email content, you need to know about your subscribers’ interests. And you can learn these easily if you focus on building segments in your lists.

Here’s what I mean:

If you run a Games review site, don’t build a generic email list of “fans”.

Instead, build a segmented list with the segments having fans of the different games like, say, the Fallout 4 and Pokemon.

And when you post content about the Fallout 4 series, send an update email to just the Fallout segment. This way, your email content will look relevant to the subscribers of that segment (and they won’t unsubscribe).

(You will have to use your list building tool’s page/post level targeting features to build such segmented lists.)

Personalize your email’s offer using behavioral triggers

CRM tools or eCommerce platforms store data about a user’s interactions with the site. This information can be used to trigger emails with customized offers based on what the user recently showed interest in.

Such emails are called trigger emails because they’re sent when users do a particular action. Trigger emails report a 152% higher open rate when compared to traditional emails.

For example, look at the following trigger email from Amazon:

(I got this email after I visited Amazon and looked up for some books on editing.)


This personalized email from Amazon listed not one or two but FIFTEEN recommended books, and I ended up checking out and buying a couple more.

Personalize your email copy using subscriber’s information

Again, personalizing email copy can be as simple as using the subscriber’s first name to address them, or it could be as advanced as using dynamic content (like in the above example).

The following screenshot shows a personalized email from Dropbox. Dropbox uses the subscriber’s company’s name to personalize their email copy:


Personalize your email’s “from field”

Personalizing the sender’s field can make an email look more welcoming. So instead of sending your emails from your company’s (or blog’s) name, send them using your name.

Just the way Neil Patel from QuickSprout does, his emails don’t come from the “QuickSprout Blog”. Instead, the sender’s field shows “Neil Patel”.


HubSpot found that personalizing the sender name and email address increased their open rate by about 3%.

On a more advanced level, you can customize your email sender’s field with the name of the person from your company that a particular subscriber interacts with.

CampaignMonitor tells how Dubsat personalizes their emails so that they appear to come from the account manager the client regularly deals with.



I know a few of the personalization tactics I listed need data from the CRM tool, but not all. Even if you just have your subscriber’s name, you can still personalize their email experience. Your next step could be to segment your lists based on your subscribers’ interests and to send personalized content to the segments. You don’t really have a reason to not try… so send personalized campaigns and measure the results for yourself.

What are some of the most personalized emails you’re subscribed to? And what do you like the best about them? Do share in the comments! 

Disha Sharma

Disha Sharma

Disha is an email marketer and freelance writer. She has written for blogs like Kissmetrics. She helps blogs deliver newsletters that drive engagement and email campaigns that get results. You can connect with her on Twitter:@dishahsharma.
Disha Sharma


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