How to Personalize any Email

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Any ecommerce marketer knows that content varies from email to email. An image of an abandoned item would be out of place in a newsletter, for instance. But people respond to personalization — emails with a subscriber’s name in the subject line are 26% more likely to be opened, and that’s just one small way you can personalize an email. Even though content varies by email, there are still some personalization techniques you can employ in any email.

Product Recommendations

Product recommendations come in two flavors: recommendations based on behavioral data, and recommendations based on another, specific product. Which you choose to implement should depend on how segmented your campaigns are. If you segment based on previous purchases, you may choose to include recommendations based on a specific product.

1. Product Recommendations Based on Specific Product
Using product feeds, you can display trending or bestselling products within a specific category or collection. If you have a newsletter that you send to a segment of your female customers, you can show bestselling items from your women’s collection.

Alternatively, you can include product recommendations that are related or complementary to a specific product. If you have a segment of people who have purchased a particular product, you can curate a group of related or complementary products and include them in your emails to this segment in a “You might also like…” section. Say you have a segment of all your customers who have purchased bikes — show them bike accessories like bells and lights.

2. Product Recommendations Based on Behavioral Data
Also using product feeds, you can include personal product recommendations based on customer purchase history. The feed will be populated with product recommendations based on what similar customers have also purchased. Because this algorithm is based on purchase history, it works best for customers who have already bought from you at least once. You can include these recommendations in a “Customers like you also bought…” section.

Recently Viewed Products

If you have web tracking enabled on your site, you can include products that a subscriber has recently viewed in your emails. You can include these in a “See something you liked?” section.

Subscriber Preferences

Asking your subscribers to either update or input their preferences is another great way to personalize an email, since it shows that you’re not sending the same emails to everyone. Include a line or two with the subscriber’s first name asking them what their mailing preferences are, and a link to a form they can fill out.

Asking for email preferences will also give you data on your subscribers that you can use to build segments.


Unless these personalized sections are the central focus of your email, it’s generally best to include them at the bottom of your template. You want to add a personal touch, but you don’t want to distract from the primary reason you’re emailing your subscribers. With the exception of subscriber preferences, you should avoid mixing these personalization methods. Displaying two types of product recommendations and recently viewed products, for example, will make your email lengthy and disjointed. That said, each of these options is a great way to tailor your emails to your individual subscribers.

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