Tips for Making Your Transactional Emails More Personal

Tips for Making Your Transactional Emails More Personal
Denys Romanov Denys Romanov 27 october 2021, 15:24 415
For beginners

Learn how to create a personalized email. Stand out from the competition for your individuality and avoid monotonous emails with the help of our tips.

Why Is Personalizing Emails So Important?

The only thing worse than a boring email is the one that doesn’t make any sense to a particular recipient. Imagine an elderly Mr. Norman getting a newsletter about discounts on women's coats. Or a makeup brand sending 27-year-old Linda a selection of 50+ skincare products. This can be taken either as a mistake, a joke, or an insult. These and many other incidents happen when senders don’t segment their subscribers and simply send one message to their entire contact database.

A few years ago a personalized message was considered simply as one with the addressee’s name in the subject line and that was it. Now it’s a little more than that. Personalized promotional newsletters take into account the recipients’ personal data, their likes and dislikes, place of residence, and other attributes. Such campaigns are much more effective — according to Campaign Monitor studies, they bring in an average of 18 times more profit than emails with no such details. Of course, that can apply only to quality emails that would still be good without personalization — this technique is just the cherry on top.

A precise understanding of what your potential clients want and what you can offer them will help you understand how to personalize your emails. So let’s get into some email personalization ideas and tools.

The Most Powerful Tool for Email Personalization

Segmentation (or clustering) is a great way to personalize email newsletters. It's fairly easy to do — collect the necessary information about your customers through opt-in forms, and rearrange the users into corresponding lists. For this, you might need to find out your client’s:

  • Age
  • Location
  • Status
  • Website activity
  • Purchase history
  • Loyalty level

The reason you need to know your subscribers’ age is quite clear — to avoid accidents like the one with Linda’s newsletter. People can ignore it once or twice, but if they keep receiving emails with products way out of their age range, they might eventually unsubscribe.

Now, let’s learn about other message personalization tips.

A Location That Intensifies the Emotions

If there is a "City" field in your database (as is often the case with national retailers), then you can launch regional mailing campaigns with a local flavor. Use real-time data wisely to build relationships with customers.

Mentioning sports events or weather conditions in emails can improve the perception of your emails and engage the recipients better. With such information, you can benefit simply from the current context and connect the email to the surrounding atmosphere and the subscribers’ mood.

UNIQLO segments the audience by region

UNIQLO segments the audience by region

Here we can see that it’s getting cold in Minnesota — UNIQLO took it as an opportunity to remind Minnesotans to slip into some new coats. The buttons are also separated into two groups straight away so the person doesn’t have to search for their section in the catalog.

Highlights Based on a Status

Here, we do not talk about social class or one’s place in society whatsoever. See, there are many services that divide users into some, usually two, groups:

  • Hosts and guests
  • Drivers and passengers
  • Job posters and freelancers
  • Creators and watchers

Any person that subscribes to a newsletter for one of these services should mark what their primary role is. Or you can arrange your website in a way that this information is taken directly from their account.

Airbnb personalized email

Airbnb personalized email

One of the recent personalization tools is highlights or a compilation of places, photos, publications, products — anything that can be put in a creative list and be a good subject for a newsletter. It must be a worthwhile occasion for a highlight email to include it, like New Year’s Eve, the end of a Sporting events season, or a new fashion designer’s collection. In this example from Airbnb, they used highlights to specify the importance of this particular host to the whole brand. If you look closer, you can see that nothing much really happened — a person has just been a host, doing their thing, but the brand just wanted to remind them how it appreciates this host.

To make this email personal, take a look at the status of the person (in this case it’s the host, not the guest) and what they've been doing during a specific time period. This can take a while, but this email will have a bigger chance of being opened, and the person might become more loyal to the company.

Website Interaction Causes Triggers

Triggered emails are at the top of email marketing personalization and email automation. Such emails are sent automatically in response to a user’s specific action (or lack of) on the website. For example, a subscriber has added some products to his cart and then left without placing an order. Wait for 30-60 minutes and send them a reminder with similar or related goods and additionally promote the purchase. If there are a lot of abandoned carts in your online store, such emails will significantly increase the number of completed orders and the average receipt.

The company Specialized reminds a customer of his abandoned browsing

The company Specialized reminds a customer of his abandoned browsing

You don’t have to set this up manually — if your website is connected to a CRM system and an email newsletter service at the same time, you can bind them together so they trigger automatically. Using a marketing automation platform, you can create email chains linked to certain actions and events, such as:

  • A subscriber’s birthday
  • An abandoned cart reminder
  • Registration for an event
  • A cross-selling offer based on the purchase of a certain product
  • An action reinforcement (for example, 30 days after purchase)
Netflix uses content personalization in this email

Netflix uses content personalization in this email

The mailing service you use must have information about your subscribers’ behavior. After studying it, you will find out when they signed up for the newsletter, how many emails have been opened in a row, or how often they are opened, etc. Use it to make your recipients more engaged.

For example, you can send personalized emails to celebrate a certain moment in the relationship with the subscriber, like the anniversary of their subscription. They are also effective for involving users who have not been active for a long time.

Work Individually With Each Group of Customers

Another popular method is the segmentation of the database with RFM or Recency Frequency Monetary analysis which is the prescription, number, and amount of transactions. Download the customer base from your CRM or CMS system and sort them by the number of orders and the duration of interaction with the store.

The main goal of email marketing is to make your customers loyal. In other words, so that they buy often and do not disappear for too long. To do this, you need to treat each segment differently — send welcome letters to new subscribers, special offers to promising and off-and-on ones, ask for recommendations from loyal ones, and resuscitate with discounts the inactive ones.

Duolingo is the king of retention emails

Duolingo is the king of retention emails

Also, many email services assign ratings to subscribers based on how often they interact with newsletters. The more active the subscriber is, the more relevant your offer is for them. If they are inactive, you are probably offering them the wrong thing.

In your account, you can track subscribers’ activity and engagement. If their ER has become below 60% over the past year, it is time to work on these inactive subscribers.

Study the Consumer Loyalty Index

After the customer has received an order, find out the degree of their satisfaction. To do this, send them an email with a Net Promoter Score survey that shows the consumer loyalty index.

Ring kindly asks for feedback on a new purchase

Ring kindly asks for feedback on a new purchase

Based on the survey results, you will find out the average rating for all subscribers and will be able to track it in the future. And, of course, you will get additional data for segmentation: based on the collected ratings, you can work separately with critics, neutral and loyal subscribers.

Extra Tip - Be More Transparent in Your Emails

Email personalization can work both ways — you can offer something unique to a customer and be more open about yourself. You can do this in many ways:

  • Assign an author to your newsletter (not a fake one)
  • Put an author’s photo in the header/footer
  • Tell jokes, reflect on the recent events and just be more chatty
  • Show what's behind the curtain (the marketing department or a company insides)
Grubhub shares what team members have eaten this week

Grubhub shares what team members have eaten this week

A newsletter that has these things looks less like it is serving a soulless corporate function. Emails sent by a specific person build more trust, reduce the distance between the business and the client. And if you share moderately private things, like Grubhub did, it will make a reader feel special, as if they are now a silent partner of your team.


We have found out how to create a personal email and why this is important. But to write a personalized email, you have to add a bit of creativity. Do not limit yourself in tools, but do not forget that:

  • Quality is the King, Segmentation is the Queen
  • Age is a must with a diverse audience
  • Location matters
  • Status dictates the content
  • Trigger customers according to their actions/inactions
  • Go deeper to raise the ER
  • Research the loyalty level
  • Be more open yourself

Of course, there are other ways to segment the database and it all depends on the needs of your business. The more segments you select, the more accurately you will get to the target audience. But at the same time, you will have to prepare the mailing list for each segment.

Thanks to these rules, you will build personalized email marketing campaigns based on meaningful and trusting relationships with your audience.

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