Why Personalization Matters—And How to Get it Right

Christina Hagopian
5 min readOct 2, 2018


If you’re a marketing pro, you already know that getting your message seen and read despite the dozens—if not hundreds—of emails your customers receive in a day, counts as one of your biggest challenges. (According to Campaign Monitor, there are 5.2 billion email accounts currently active.)

How to make an impression in that crowded field? With a personal touch that makes your products and offers stand out.

One size fits all messaging simply won’t get the job done anymore. But personalization will — and with an average increase of 20% in sales, it’s no wonder that 74% of marketers use targeted personalization to boost customer engagement.

The key objective is to make your content personalized, relevant, and meticulously targeted.

Here are some of our top strategies for creating emails that your customers will want to read.


If you know your customers’ zip code, you’re in a great position to market to them based on geolocation tracking.

Having a special sale? You can let your customers know which store is closest to them.

Is it a snow day in the neighborhood? Make use of weather data. Be like Seamless, and let your customers know you’re still there to deliver their favorite meals.

Or send out an email that’s not product focused, like Alex and Ani’s “Five Things to Do” snow day suggestions that included checking in on neighbors who might need help–and, boom, you’ve associated your brand with a sense of caring and goodwill.

Geolocation data can be used to send timely, locally-relevant emails that build trust and loyalty, like this example from Alex and Ani.

It’s also possible to use geolocation to specify the images in your email. Is your customer based in Chicago? As appropriate for your campaign, use local images to increase the sense of the personal touch and show that, as a company, you really know your customer.


Recently, I had a birthday, and I was pleased that a number of companies knew that, and sent me birthday greetings and special birthday offers.

Did they make a special day feel more special? Yes, they did.

Of course, when the subject line for these emails used my name, and said “Happy Birthday, Christina,” my attention was captured immediately. Having the customer’s name in the subject line increases the chances by 26% that the mail will be opened.

If you don’t use your customer’s name in the subject line, (and it is possible to overdo it,) consider adding it to the preheader text — the descriptive text that immediately follows the subject line. This can be something as simple as “Christina, your package has shipped.”


Your email team can take any piece of personal info out of its database — name, age, gender, size, product preference, etc. — and create custom fields that will make an email stand out.

Saks Fifth Avenue knows that I like the clothing line Joie, so I get a “Just for You” email whenever there’s something new in stock.

Increase email open and response rates by sending personalized content based on user preferences, like this example from Saks Fifth Avenue.

Burberry sent me an email with photos of how my initials would look on one of their iconic scarves. Nice!


If your customer only ever looks at size 7 shoes, or selects size 7 shoes from a “Shop by Size” grid, you have an opportunity to personalize an offer by highlighting that size in your next email. On your website, you can offer all sizes, but an email about size 7s to someone who’s shown interest will, again, show that you are paying attention to their preferences.

Keep a close eye on your customers’ shopping cart. You can personalize a follow-up email to an abandoned cart and even show the items in the cart. Since abandoned carts are a marketer’s nightmare, a clever reminder might convert an undecided shopper into a buyer.

A nice example of an abandoned cart email from The Gap.

One of our clients sells audiobooks, and can see if a purchased book has been left unread (or “unheard”) for a long period of time. They’ll follow up with an offer to exchange that book for another one that might be a better match. This is a strong customer satisfaction strategy, since it indicates that the book supplier cares about the outcome of a sale, not simply the sale itself.

Speaking of birthdays, and anniversaries, too—if you’ve captured that information for a customer, you can remind their significant other to call for a personal shopper to help pick out, say a special piece of jewelry or go to the website to see a style you already know their loved one will, well, love!

Many marketers follow up with this type of recommendation based on visitor history or previous purchases. A savvy recommendation, again, can convert a browser into a buyer.


Smart segmentation is the future of email marketing, and while many types of personalization can be discovered using the kinds of tracking mentioned above, a survey or user preference center tied to your email signup or elsewhere on your website can be pure gold.

Dean & DeLuca offers a number of customization options for its email subscribers.

Most customers are happy to give information about themselves and what they care about if the result will be relevant, targeted, personalized communications from you. And that’s the point of smart email marketing.

Here at Hagopian Ink, we specialize in email marketing. Let us know how we can help you with your next campaign. We’re happy to review your email strategy with you, as a complimentary audit to help maximize your results. So let’s get started!



Christina Hagopian

Creative Director & President of Hagopian Ink, a Certified Woman Owned, full service design studio specializing in luxury and lifestyle brands.