As you develop your email templates, you'll want to consider whether or not you want to use personalization features in your email. This could include using a subscriber's first name or user name. It could also extend beyond that to using any data variables that you have collected in your email database. However, before you decide where, or even if, you want to use email personalization in your templates, there are a few things to consider.

How Does Email Personalization Work?

When using an email management system such as Comm100, you only have to create one email template. However, you are actually sending out as many individual emails as you have subscribers on your email list. Each email that goes out is its own html or text file. Your email sending or online newsletter platform may have the capability to read a variable within your html template and, in each individual html file sent, replace that variable with the associated database field. For example, you may have a database field for a user's first name. Your email sending platform may then have been programmed to understand that when it sees FIRSTNAME in your html email template, it is supposed to replace that variable with the database field for "first name" for the email address that it is sending to. In this way, you can send millions of emails from one template that all include a personal touch for each of your subscribers.

The Pros of Using Email Personalization

Most case studies have revealed that emails and newsletters that use personalization experience higher conversion rates. Using email personalization in the subject line leads to increased open rates of your email, and the success of your email marketing campaign all begins with a user opening of your email! When users scan their inbox, they are more likely to notice an email with their name in the subject line. Then, you only have to have ensured that the rest of your subject line is enticing. After all, you've now won the first battle, which is to get noticed in a crowded inbox.

Using similar personalization in the body of the email can also be effective. When you refer to a subscriber by his or her name or user name, a positive mental association is made between the user and your company or brand. As simple as it may sound, including the use of a first name or user name can make a customer or subscriber feel like an individual person rather than just an anonymous recipient.

Between the increased email open rates and the higher affinity rate of subscribers within a message when it is personalized, personalization within your email sends can improve email response and conversion by multiple percentage points.

The Cons of Using Email Personalization

There is, however, one con to consider when evaluating the role of email personalization in your templates. That con is your subscribers' sensitivity to privacy issues. Increasingly, people are aware of the information that's available about them via the internet. Simultaneously, they are wary of sharing or being asked for too much information. If you choose to include personalization in your email templates, then you company is either asking users for identifying information such as their name when they join your email list, or you are alerting them to the fact that you have a database of related information each time you send an email.

While, in most cases, the concern about privacy and information is far outweighed by the measureable improvements in email campaign performance when emails are personalized, there may be some exceptions. Particularly if your business or product is one that may have a user base that is highly concerned with their privacy, personalization may not be worth the trade off. Adult-only products, gambling, sensitive health information products, and financial information are just a few of the industries that may not be better served by using email personalization in their email marketing programs.

You can see measurable results by incorporating personalization into your email templates. However, be aware of issues with your demographic or industry segment that may negate those positives. If you have not previously used personalization in your email templates, you may want to consider and isolated a/b test with only a small segment of your database getting the personalized email to begin with. We'll discuss testing in detail later in this book.

Best Practices for Email Personalization

Email personalization, outside of demographics and industries where there are extensive privacy concerns by users, can vastly improve email campaign performance. Always consider these best practices when implementing personalization into your email.

Email Personalization in Subject Line: Always, when possible, personalize the subject line of your email with a first name. It has been shown to consistently improve open-rates.

Email Personalization Above the Fold in Your Email: Within the body of your email, include first name or site user name personalization field above the fold so that it catches the attention of the reader immediately and engages them.

Don't Overdo It with Email Personalization: While personalizing emails can improve their performance, over-using email personalization can leave readers and subscribers feeling as though you know a little too much about them! Include a touch or two of personalization, but don't fill up your entire email template with personalized facts.

Limit the Information that You Ask Subscribers For: In order to personalize your emails, you'll need to ask subscribers for information when they register at your site or join your email list. Only ask for what you need! The more information you request of users, the less likely they will be to complete your sign-up or registration process.

Email personalization can improve results exponentially. However, don't just use personalization features win without thinking them through first. As always, if you're unsure, test before you roll personalization out to your entire email database!

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