What is a Personalized Email? Definition, Tactics & Examples

Ivan Escott
Ivan Escott
13 minute read

What is a Personalized Email? Definition, Tactics & Examples

Ivan Escott
Ivan Escott
13 minute read

If you’re a marketer or a professional in literally any industry that uses email as a channel of communication, chances are you’ve already heard about email personalization.

What you may not know is that personalization in emails is a must for reasons that we’ll be discussing a little further down in this post.

Moreover, in this guide, we’ll be covering what email personalization is as well as giving you four email personalization tactics that’ll help you get replies.

Before we get any further, we need to cover the type of personalization we’re going to talk about; it’s in relation to emails sent for business and professional purposes.

Let’s jump right into a concise definition of email personalization.

What is Email Personalization?

Email personalization is when you put some data from your prospects and subscribers, e.g. the subscriber’s name or company they work at, in your email body or subject line in order to show that you’ve tailored the content for them personally.

In other words, personalized emails are those emails that, even if they’re being sent in bulk to your email list, still include dynamic content, such as custom fields – AKA variables – that are differentiated from one another based on data points you know about them.

An example might be that you personalize your emails based on demographics, a client’s purchase history, time zone, past behavior, and other interests, in order to increase your click-through rates. The real goal here is, of course, to improve conversion rates on your website.

Customer data segmentation, alongside any other information you may have for the email recipient, allows you to send out personalized and targeted emails that can significantly increase your email open rate metrics.

We’ll cover more on that a little further down in this post.

For now, let’s just say that email personalization is all about providing your email recipients with individual treatment, showing them that you cared enough to customize some bits of your content, and it’s not just your email outreach tool blindly sending out generic emails.

For example, it makes a huge difference to get an email that opens with your first name like:

Hey Farzad,

Instead of getting one that starts with a simple:

Hey,

Or even worse with:

Hey {first name},

Which means that someone probably used a premade email template and forgot to adjust the custom field in it before they pressed that send email button.

Oopsie!

Simply adding a personalized email subject line, the person’s name in the opening line, or a personalized email signature are simple personalization strategies that can help you hit the mark in the email outreach game and generally elevate your marketing campaigns.

We’ve now explained what email personalization is about and touched a little upon why it’s important.

Needless to say, the importance and value of personalization extends to all different aspects and elements of your business, including, for example, the CTAs on your website, as a study by HubSpot proves.

Let’s now get into more detail about four different reasons that’ll make you want to personalize all your emails from now on.

Why is Email Personalization Important?

Email personalization is essential for a number of reasons, including showing that you’re serious about your business and email content when it comes to reaching out to prospects or existing customers.

Additionally, non-personalized emails might make your content sound a bit too generic or robotic and you definitely don’t want this to happen; it can lead to low email response rates.

On that note, let’s discuss four main reasons why personalizing your emails and reaching out to people with relevant content can help you boost the effectiveness of your email marketing strategy and email campaigns.

Here’s the first reason we have for you.

Reason #1: Get higher response rates

The first reason why you should be going for personalized subject lines – and personalized messages in general – is because they can help you get higher response rates.

In other words, adding your personal touch and style by making necessary adjustments to your messaging makes it more likely that your content will resonate with your target audience.

Out of millions of cold emails that are being sent daily, only 8.5% of them get a response, according to a study of 12 million outreach emails by Backlinko.

Backlinko outreach response rates
Image Source: Backlinko

Chances are that:

  • Most outreach emails are bulk emails that are being sent through automation and usually include no personalization elements whatsoever. As a result, all emails look the same and get low response rates.
  • Professionals, from editors and bloggers to influencers and publishers, get tons of emails on a daily basis which forces them to be very selective with the emails they open and even more selective with the one they’ll actually send a reply to.
  • People don’t follow-up as often as they should.

This guide is not about the last two points, rather, it focuses on the first one.

If look-alike emails get low response rates, we need to make sure that our email won’t be in the category of emails that get sent every day and get roundly ignored.

What’s more, if you really want your email to stand out and get a reply, you need to put some extra effort and care into it.

How?

By personalizing it!

Moving forward to reason number two.

Reason #2: Establish relationships with influencers in your niche

The second reason why email personalization is important is that it can totally help you establish relationships with influencers and other professionals in your niche.

Put another way, sending out a thoughtful email copy that’s personalized and includes relevant information will naturally make the influencer you’re reaching out to willing to get the conversation going with you.

The following outreach email by now chief marketing officer (CMO) at Ahrefs, then blogger at BloggerJet, Tim Soulo, is a great example:

Ahrefs personalized email example
Image Source: Ahrefs

Here are the main personalization elements Tim’s email included:

  • Recipient’s first name: Jessica
  • Mention of recipient’s specific blog post: I just stumbled across your post at….
  • Mention of recipient’s position: Being a guest blogger yourself…

Let’s break them down.

First of all, Tim wrote an email that actually mentioned the recipient’s first name, which totally helps break the ice from the very beginning.

Undoubtedly, this simple move works towards establishing a personal relationship with the person getting your email a reply in no time.

Additionally, he, very smartly, added an introductory line to mention a specific blog post the prospect had recently written.

Last but not least, he highlighted the recipient’s guest blogging activity.

As we can see from the reply he got, his outreach email achieved its goal.

We can only assume that part of its success can be explained by the fact that it’s a thoughtful email that’s addressed to a specific individual.

Think of it that way: it wouldn’t make sense to send the same content to anyone else, right?

Let’s get to the next reason why email personalization is so important.

As you probably already know, backlinks are very important when it comes to SEO; they can help your website rank higher on the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Acquiring more backlinks can be a quite tricky process, especially if you’re trying to do it with mediocre email outreach.

On the other hand, incorporating personalization elements into your emails can, indeed, help you acquire more links.

Have a look at the following outreach email that was received after we sent a thoughtful and personalized link building outreach email:

Respona Response 1

More than just a positive link building response – we can clearly see that the email above, as well as the reply below – are written in a friendly tone.

Respona Response 2

Achieving such a tone can help you maximize your chances of not only getting a reply to your cold email, but also acquiring more backlinks to your content and other landing pages.

Keep reading to find the last reason we want to share with you.

Reason #4: Close partnerships with other companies

Similar to using personalized emails for link building purposes, personalized emails can also be very efficient in terms of taking relationships to a new level and closing partnerships with other companies.

As you can probably imagine, having a strong business relationship with another company is important in order to seal deals and close partnerships, as well as maintain long-term collaborations.  

To get there, you, of course, need to establish a relationship that can’t be based on generic content that’d work for anyone.

Quite the opposite!

Your email content, among other things, needs to be well-curated and speak to your prospect in particular.

The following email is yet another positive email we’ve got for a partnership outreach email we’ve sent.

Have a look:

Respona response 3

Furthermore, the email that follows again shows us just how positive the responses can be when you send a personalized email.

Respona response 4

What’s the key takeaway?

Great partnerships don’t happen out of sheer luck.

They happen because someone, i.e. your marketing team, cared enough to tailor an email particularly for individuals and not for just anyone in your email list.

In other words, taking some extra time to write an email that speaks to your prospects has great chances of paying you back.

We’re now done discussing the reasons why you should be using all the personalization tools in your marketing toolbox.

Below are four email personalization tactics that’ll maximize your emails’ open rates.

4 Email Personalization Tactics for Emails that Get Read

We’ve now established that, when it comes to cold outreach, as well as many other parts of digital marketing,  personalization can help you leverage your game.

The outreach study by Backlinko – the one we mentioned a little further up – showed that personalization elements in emails have a great impact on outreach campaign results.

Have a look:

  • 30.5% higher response rates for personalized subject lines, and
  • 32.7% higher response rates for personalized message bodies

Author’s Note: The rates are in comparison to generic promotional mailings.

Although that’s the theory, it might not be as useful as actually getting actionable tips and tricks you can apply to your email marketing efforts as soon as possible.

For that reason, we’re going to take you through four email personalization tactics that can help you enhance your effectiveness and get replies to those emails you send.

Let’s get started.

Tactic #1: Congratulate your prospect on something they’ve recently achieved

The first tactic is an all time classic in email outreach, although some might say it’s slightly overused.

It’s a simple email that’s acknowledging something noteworthy someone did.

It might be a product launch – ideal for eCommerce and SaaS businesses – or a new service launch, or it can also be that they published a  great guide on a specific topic on their blog.

Example: The “Congrats on your achievement” one

Congrats on your achievement

Hey {first name},

[Name] here from [company].

Just saw the great news about [their company name].

What you guys did with [product or service] is going to help so many companies in [type of industry].

Congratulating someone on something they recently achieved can totally increase the chances of getting a reply from them.

The email excerpt shown above is just a part of a personalized email template you can use when you have to say something that’s:

  • Relevant to the prospect’s activities
  • Timely and relevant

This email content isn’t ideal for selling something, making product recommendations, or promoting special offers, but it can totally work in terms of establishing a relationship with someone.

Author’s Tip: Consider connecting with your prospect on professional social media platforms like LinkedIn before sending out your congratulatory email.

We also need to mention that such an email could work for small business owners as well as enterprises.

In other words, even if you’re planning to reach out to someone at Amazon, don’t hesitate to do so as long as it’s timely relevant.

Getting to the next one.

Tactic #2: Talk about something your prospect has recently said

Similar to talking about something someone recently did, you could also send a nice, personalized email about something the recipient recently said.

Showing that you deeply value a person’s opinion or that you agree with their take on things can help you get a reply from them.

To understand and keep track of such things, you could leverage a chatbot creator to develop a chatbot that can collect all the information provided by the users and store it in your CRM. You can then use this information to personalize the emails you send to your audience.

Here’s an example.

Example: The “Loved what you said” one

Loved what you said

Hey {first name},

How are things going over in {city}]?

It’s [name] here from [your company name]. We are [description] and [what you do].

We’ve been monitoring your work and see you’re doing a great job with [topic of interest].

Really liked what you posted recently on your [social media platform] about [topic].

Also, loved when you said [insert post excerpt].

As you can see, this is an email template that includes several personalization elements.

At its base is the fact that you basically want to express your admiration for something someone has said or to simply show that you agree with it; the email content is tailored for a specific individual.

We can clearly see just how engaging the email content becomes with the addition of some custom fields that can be customized accordingly to fit each recipient.

Author’s Note: This one can be very efficiently used for influencer outreach.

Keep reading to find the third email personalization tactic.  

Tactic #3: Refer to a mutual connection or interest between you and your prospect

Having something in common with another person is always a key point of any relationship, including a professional one.

Let’s say that you want to reach out to someone and you happen to have mutual contacts.

It makes perfect sense to use your mutual connection in order to break the ice and help establish a relationship with your prospect.

On the other hand, it might be that you’ve got a common interest in a specific topic which you were able to identify by something your prospect has said online.

Wouldn’t you use that too?

Of course!

Let’s jump into an example.

Example: The “We have a mutual connection” one

We have a mutual connection

Hey {first name},

How’s your {day_of_week} going?

It’s been a minute since I listened to your podcast – when I saw that you had [mutual connection] on as a guest, I knew I had to tune in.

I thought your main discussion on [topic] was great, but I really got into it when you brought up [small detail]. I actually have a few thoughts myself that would further the discussion, if you’re open to it :)

I’d like to touch on a few additional topics like [new talking points].

As we’ve already covered, writing a personalized email that refers to a mutual connection you and your prospect have can form the basis of a long term business relationship.

The way this works is that, by talking about someone you both know, familiarity kicks in and it becomes easier to trust the other person and get closer to them.

As simple as that!

Keep reading to find the final efficient email personalization tactic we want to talk to you about.  

Tactic #4: Talk about a pain point or problem that your prospect currently has

Finally, a note about your prospect’s pain point or other business problem is yet another good idea when it comes to personalizing your email content.

Doing so will allow you to not only start a conversation, but also show that you care and want to offer your services in order to help solve the potential problem.

Here’s what you can say in such a situation.

Example: The “I think I can help you” one

I think I can help you

Hey {first name},

Hope you’re having a fantastic week!

My name is [your name] and I’m a business development associate here at [company].

To be honest, the business development associate is just a fancy term to say “I’m helping companies grow!”

On that note, my team and I just launched a new [product or service] that helps businesses [describe your value proposition, ideally in one sentence].

I was wondering, how are you dealing with [prospect’s pain point] so far?

I look forward to hearing from you and becoming your ally!

In our businesses, we’re all dealing with a number of issues on a daily basis.

Getting an email from someone that seems to have the potential knowledge and skills to help you solve some of your business problems sounds like a great thing, right?

That’s why our final personalization tactic focuses on writing a thoughtful email that’ll give your prospect a truly valid reason to get back to you.

Make sure that you don’t overdo it in highlighting your skills and the services that you can provide your prospect with as you risk sounding too spammy.

A simple reference to their pain point and your previous experience will do!

Let’s close our guide up with some final thoughts.

Now Over to You

That was it.

You now know a bit more about email personalization, don’t you?

We’ve discussed why email personalization is important in email outreach and some tactics you can use to personalize your emails.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the topic.

Feel free to leave a comment with the reason why you usually reach out to individuals/companies for business purposes.

Also, are there any difficulties you’ve faced or are still facing with email outreach?

Good luck writing killer personalized emails that get replies!

Ivan Escott
Ivan Escott
Ivan is the partnerships manager at Respona, the all-in-one PR and link building tool that combines personalization with productivity. Along with creating content, he looks for unique ways to build meaningful relationships with other bloggers.

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