5 Ways to Improve Personalization in Your Email

Amie Perrott

Do you have questions about best practices for your email blasts (AKA “eblasts”)? Have you ever wondered what’s the best day and time to send an email blast?

The number one best practice for email blasts is to drop the word “blast” from your vocabulary and mindset.

Your email marketing strategy needs to focus on engaging the audience you’re talking to. That one-size-fits-all email will get lost in the crowded inbox.

As an email marketer, I cringe when I hear the word eblast. It sounds impersonal and generic. Those mass emails need to compete with the other 269 billion emails sent each day (Statista). Hoping someone finds your email and converts is less effective and may hurt your email marketing program in the long run.

You could be risking your email deliverability, stunting event registrations, membership renewals, and devaluing your content as a result.

It can be challenging to get away from those blasted (pun intended) bulk emails.

Easy Ways to Customize the Experience

You might have emails that act like an eblast (newsletters, event announcement, benefit launch, partner/advertising, etc.). Make sure you understand who would find the email valuable and why. What works for one type of member or donor doesn’t for others. Does everyone need to get the email?

Here are examples of small tweaks you can initiate to help personalize your emails.

Different Subject Lines and Pre-headers

Half the battle of email marketing is getting your emails opened. If the subject line is too general, it won’t spark a reaction. Don’t forget the pre-header of an email because it’s an extension of your subject line.

Depending on the purpose of the email, here are some easy personalization and segmentation ideas:

Personalize based on years of membership

Subject Line: “You’ve been a member for x number of years.”
Pre-header: “This affects your career.”

Subject Line: “Thank you for your X number of years.”
Pre-header: “Don’t risk losing your membership.”

Segment based on career stage and what would be important 

New professional: “As a new executive, this is news you need.”
In the profession 10+ years: “With your executive experience, this news is important.”
In the profession 20+ years: “Your support of the profession has paid off!”

Target based on email engagement

Not opened an email in 6+ Months: “It’s been a while, but you need to know.”
Opened any email within 3 Months: “Did you see this recent announcement?”

Images That Resonate

Consider alternate images in your emails (headers, hero images, buttons, etc.) for different segments. Images that might have more impact based on member type, geographical location, or persona. (Don’t forget to reference the optimal text-to-image ratio in your emails.)

Geographic Location

A hero image of a sled in 10 feet of snow in your holiday email might not mean as much to the member located in a warmer climate.

Happy Birthday Emails

Birthday emails could have the same message, but contain images that are appropriate for the specific season of the month.

Event Emails

The email header or hero image can cater to what different members find valuable about your event (uncover these through surveys). New members might get more value out of the networking, while established members might want to focus on continuing education offerings. Find images that illustrate those event benefits. You could recognize past event attendees and trigger a registration with a welcome back image.

If you’re using buttons, change up the language. An easy example is different button language for past event attendees versus someone who has never attended.

join us again button

grab your spot button

Call to Action

Different versions of landing pages or forms that you link to is another option. The number of different versions doesn’t have to be extensive – you could get away with two versions of the same page with different headlines.

Dynamic Segmentation

Most providers allow you to dynamically segment targeted stories within one email. You create one email and then determine who gets what content within that email. Consequently, you save time and don’t have to create multiple versions of the same email to send separately.

With or without dynamic segmentation, it’s easy to make small tweaks to the language of an otherwise generic email to make it sound more targeted.

  • Use different versions of the opening of an email. This works great for members vs. non-members.
  • Language for returning event attendees versus those who never attended.

Let Them Customize

Empower your subscribers and let them dictate what you send them and when by creating a preference center. If they tell you what they want, you need to make sure you honor it.

email preference center

Personalize with Marketing Automation

Your audience expects personalized, relevant emails beyond their first name in the greeting. The combined power of data from your AMS/CRM and behavioral cues with the efficiency of marketing automation arm you with the ability to send a perfectly timed message to the right person. 

The 2017 Association Email Marketing Benchmark Report reported that higher engagement metrics are attributed to the relevancy, targeting, and timing of automated messages.

Automated campaigns give you the ability to deliver that personal experience, in addition to saving time out of your day. Think about the campaigns that you could automate, like:

  • Member lifecycle campaigns: welcome/onboarding, lapsed member, and renewal
  • Resource offers
  • Member, volunteer, and leadership recruitment
  • Website visitors
  • Abandon cart for books or event registration

FAIA increased email engagement by 201% because they stopped sending one new member email blast and started an automated welcome campaign.

Don’t send everyone the same message and content through generic email blasts. Change your mindset and focus on your overall engagement strategy.

Ready to get started with automated campaigns? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Marketing Automation to get started.

About the Author
Amie Perrott

As a Marketing Specialist at Informz, Amie plans, executes and analyzes email marketing campaigns for the marketing department. She loves the hunt of finding just the right subject line, CTA or preheader (and secretly takes unsubscribes to heart). Outside of work, she's enjoying (or fighting) the battle of raising a very assertive toddler.