How Modern Marketers Can Confront Email Personalization Challenges


Personalized emails have become the gold standard for savvy email marketers. By using personalization, marketers can target the content of an email to the needs of the customer. Ultimately, this targeting ensures that the email message is perfectly tailored to the subscriber. 

Additionally, subscribers like when the marketing messages they receive are personalized to their needs. In fact, 86% of consumers say that email personalization helps them make purchasing decisions. 

In this fast-paced world, using personalization in your marketing can make a difference in how your emails are perceived. This can impact your bottom line. The Modern Day Struggle of Email Personalization, an infographic, has key statistics on exactly how important personalization can be. 

Even so, personalization can be challenging. Here are a few tips on how to confront email personalization challenges that often arise for modern marketers. 

Make an assessment 

Before you start creating a more personalized email experience, you need to have a plan. Take a look at your current emails, the information you’re including in them, and your analytics. What is it that you want to impact by creating more personalized emails? Do you want a higher engagement rate? Higher sales? More sign ups? Your end goal is going to dictate what you’ll want to personalize. 

Adding a first name to a subject line is one of the most applied personalization tools out there. And with good reason, as a personalized subject line is 26% more likely to encourage an email open. Just by addressing your subscribers by their names, you should see a higher open rate in your email reports. 

If you’re looking for more sales, you’ll need to make sure that the content you’re sending is relevant to your customers. If you know purchases your customers have made in the past, you can send emails with products or services that correspond to their preferences. Knowing where your email subscribers live means you can send emails targeted to the climate or weather in their area, or if you know their gender you can send emails that are specific to their needs. 

Collect data 

The more information you know about your subscribers, the more relevant you can make your emails. Take a look at the data you currently have and what you’ll need to collect in order to make the changes to your emails that you want. There are a number of ways to go about updating the information you currently have on your customers. One the easiest things to do is update your email sign-up forms. 

Take a look at what you’re currently collecting at sign-up, probably first name and email address at the very least, and then add a few more fields. The more details you collect on a form the less likely someone is to complete it, so make sure what you’re asking for is exactly what you need. By adding things like zip code or birth date you can send more creative and interesting content to your subscribers. 

You can also send an email asking for more information, use a survey to get more data, or ask for more details through a shopping cart purchase. There are many ways to collect the data you need, just remember it’s an ongoing process that can change and grow over time. 


One of the ways to know you’re sending the right information to your customers is by creating lists based on specific details. You can then send emails with content that specific to the people on each list and what they’re looking for. 

Here are some suggestions for list segments: 

  • Region, city or area they live in  – Use this to send emails that are very specific to events happening near them.
  • Age – This can help determine what information or products are going to be more interesting to the needs of each customer.
  • Gender – You can send emails with content, products or services that correspond to the needs of specific people.
  • Purchases – Use the information you already have on purchasers to send emails that correspond to what you know they like.
  • Job title – Depending on what your business is, this can go a long way in targeting the right content.
  • Loyalty status – If you offer a VIP or loyalty program then you’ll already know who your best customers are you. You can then send sneak preview emails or special events to those who you know are more likely to be interested. 

You may be asking yourself, sure, I have this data, but how do I use it for lists? If you’re using an email service provider then they’ll already have the tools to help you do it. If not, you can use a spreadsheet to create your segments. Here are two specific examples of how you can use your segments once you’ve created them. 

  • Purchase history – This is an area in your data that can be used in a variety of ways, as mentioned earlier. But look at buying history to find more specialized segments. Say you’re business involves camping items, you can break up your list based on past purchases to create a “Winter Campers” segment versus a “3 Season Campers” segment. And if you know the gender of your customers you can further break that up into Men and Women and sell more of those extra warm sleeping bags. 
  • General interests – If you’re struggling to find segments to break up your list into, try creating a newsletter that offers a variety of subjects and see which ones get more clicks. Then use that information to create lists based on each of the subjects you included. For example, if you sell books you can create lists of people who clicked and are interested in say non-fiction books, historical fiction, or poetry.

Wrap up 

Email personalization may be something marketers struggle with, and 36% of marketers say this is true, but there is a fix. Take a look at what you’re currently doing with your email marketing and then think about what you’d like to change. Using your data you can create list segments to help send more targeted emails to your customers, which in turn should make them more interested in opening your emails and interacting with your business. 

For more information on email personalization, check out the infographic below.


Source: The Modern Day Struggle of Email Personalization by Campaign Monitor

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