If you're anything like most people, you can probably rattle off 100 different things you'd rather do than dig through your inbox.
It starts to feel like a chore because what's in there isn't very interesting. In fact, only 21% of consumers reported that they've received a memorable promotional email in the past two months, according to a study by Litmus.
To overcome this, many brands are using email personalization as a strategy for creating more engaging email experiences -- ones that feel less like a robot, and more like a friend.
The best part? Email personalization doesn't need to be insanely complicated to resonate with recipients. To see what I mean, check out these 11 great email examples that cleverly use personalization.
11 Examples of Email Personalization in Action
Oh, JetBlue. You shouldn't have.
This anniversary email highlights a creative example of a brand using something as simple as a date to provide a standout experience. Much like a birthday shout out, JetBlue used my colleague's account creation date to trigger a personalized email to celebrate the fact that they've been "emailing for 365 days now."
If you're a HubSpot customer, this is an easy email to replicate for your contacts through fixed date or property-based workflows. This approach allows you to base your workflow on a calendar date or contact property date so you can send anniversary emails, digital birthday cards, renewal reminders, etc. And if your business is sending a high volume of these emails, we also offer the Transactional Email Add-On.
Here's another great personalized email example that leverages a user's interests to provide a relevant, value-packed message.
The copy in this email is particularly effective because it frames the personalization in a way that makes the recipient feel like they're being rewarded for their usage. For example, phrases like "top listener" and "be the first to get access" lend themselves to a sense of exclusivity -- making the user feel important.
The email also closes with a written call-to-action that encourages the recipient to listen to Charles Kelley's new song on Spotify. Again, this push helps to ensure that the user is actively using the streaming service, and therefore continuously reminded of the value.
This year, my team and I dressed up as the dancing pumpkin man from this viral video. Before opting to DIY our own orange masks, my colleague, Lindsay, set out on an Amazon search to find us the real deal.
Within just a couple of days, she received this personalized email from Amazon featuring "products similar to 'full face plastic pumpkin masks'." (Some of them are quite scary, aren't they?)
This email serves as a great example of how to use a contact's search behavior to re-engage them with your company, and hopefully move them closer to a sale.
One of my colleagues received this email example from Dropbox a while back, but it still serves as a strong example of how to use behavioral triggers to improve the user experience.
After logging in on multiple devices, Dropbox sent this friendly email reminding her of a product feature she didn't know existed. Without much effort, this made her experience using Dropbox infinitely better and more efficient.
By educating your visitors on how to properly use your product or service based on their behaviors, it helps to improve retention -- and can even encourages potential upgrades. Think about it: The more she used Dropbox, the more storage she'd likely need, right?
Consider what makes your product or service sticky and set up workflows that remind leads and customers how to take advantage of those sticky features.
5) Live Nation
I'll admit, there are a few loose ends I haven't gotten around to tying up since moving to Boston this year -- my Live Nation account information being one of them.
So while this email reflects my Connecticut roots, it still serves as a great example of how to use location information to provide a customized email experience. Rather than highlighting any old shows, Live Nation pulled events from a venue in my hometown -- a location that I've purchased tickets for many times in the past.
By making it easy for me to quickly visualize what's headed to the area and when, Live Nation is able to lower the barrier between me and the point of purchase.
This type of personalization could be extremely beneficial for a company looking to deliver more relevant messages to international leads or existing customers. (For more tips on reaching international audiences, check out this article from our VP of Localization Nataly Kelly.)
After following one of her favorite brunch spots on Twitter, my colleague Corey received this email from the social network with suggestions for similar accounts to follow.
What's more is that the suggestions were actually super relevant -- turns out a couple of them were just right around the corner from her. (Hello, new grub options.)
A company like Twitter that has so much data can usually go one of two ways with personalization: They totally hit the nail on the head, or they have too much data to sift out what's important. This is an example of accurately sifting out what she'd actually care about, and delivering it to her.
There are a few things we love about the personalization work in this email from ModCloth. If you're an ecommerce marketer, you'll want to pay close attention to the details of this email.
First, the language in this email is really well tailored to the target persona. For instance, the subject line to this email was, "Eek -- something you like is almost sold out!" You might even notice a smiley face emoticon further down in the message copy. Personalizing your tone and language in your email marketing is just as important as apt use of dynamic tags and proper segmentation.
Second, the tactic they're using to deploy this message -- triggered by on-site behavior -- makes it easy for the recipient to understand how it specifically pertains to them. In this case, the email was sent to remind my colleague of a dress she'd added to her shopping bag that was almost out of stock. This approach could prove to be incredibly useful for ecommerce marketers around the holiday season to encourage shoppers to take action before key holiday shipping dates.
(Want all the important 2015 holiday marketing deadlines at your fingertips? Download this free calendar.)
Am I the only one that spends more time looking for a movie on Netflix than I do actually watching it?
Aware that its database can be overwhelming, Netflix regularly sends out these personalized emails that suggest movies for its users. (If you want to learn more about the science behind the Netflix algorithms, you can brush up on it here.)
By providing a custom recommendation, Netflix helps ensure that users are actively seeing the value of their subscription. In other words, it keeps them watching, which ultimately keeps them paying.
This approach could be applied to a number of marketing materials -- ebooks, webinars, blog articles, etc. For example, if you find that someone downloaded an ebook on social media tips, you may want to set up a workflow that triggers a follow up email that suggests they check out your social media guide on SlideShare.
In an effort to keep my colleague pinning, Pinterest sent her this personalized email. Based off her past activity on the site, the social network provided some suggestions for other topics she may want to explore. (Butter, Lauren Conrad, and cheese ... I like your style, Ginny.)
And given that she is currently in the process of planning a yellow-themed wedding, I'd say the results were pretty accurate.
What we love most about the email is its simplicity. It offers up just six topics, which is enough to interest the recipient without overwhelming them, and the copy is quick, friendly, and clear.
In other wedding-related news, my colleague also received this email example from WeddingWire, an online marketplace for venues, cakes, dresses, etc.
While the copy was clever in and of itself, what really struck us was the personalization used in the subject line. After all, your recipients aren't going to see the content unless you persuade them to click first, right?
By using a witty, custom hashtag -- #GinnysLastHurrah -- in the subject line, WeddingWire inspired her to click on the email, check out their tool for creating hashtags, and forward the email to the rest of us.
If you want to boost the word-of-mouth influence behind your product or service, you should consider how personalization can help propel your message.
Birchbox is a company that's fixated on personalization in all the right ways -- and all it takes is one glance at the header of this email to see why it's effective.
By transparently admitting that they took a peek at my sample and purchase history before crafting this email, I already get the sense that what comes next will likely be relevant to me ... and it was.
These little, personalized messages always reinforce why I continue to subscribe to their service. They strengthen my loyalty.
With 62% of millennials feeling that online content drives their loyalty to a brand, and 46% of U.S. consumers admitting that they’re more likely to switch providers than they were 10 years ago, fostering loyalty through personalization should be a priority.
Is your company leveraging email personalization? Share your favorite tips below.
Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2013 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.