Is Personalizing Your Sales Emails Worth It, According to Data?

Personalize your emails.

If you read the HubSpot Sales Blog frequently (or even infrequently), you’ve likely seen that advice. It’s a common theme on the blog.

After all, personalized messages add more value. They’re more compelling than generic email blasts. They treat the prospect like a human, not a name on a list.

But will personalizing your emails actually help you win more deals?

To find out if salespeople who invest the time in personalization get better results, a HubSpot engineering team analyzed the impact of personalization on reply rates.

Read on for the results.

How We Ran the Study

For the purposes of our study, an email was “personalized” if it was significantly different from the original template. We quantified this difference as the percentage of words changed from the sales email template to the sent version, coming up with a “text distance score” measure.

In other words, changing a couple words would be less impactful than adding a new paragraph or switching sentences around.

What We Found

Our research proved more personalization leads to higher response rates. That might not be so shocking, but we did notice two more surprising facts.

First, most of our customers aren’t taking advantage of benefits of personalization. Less than 20% of the template is changed for 80% of emails sent.

Second, personalization has diminishing returns. After you’ve altered 50% or more of your template, the impact on reply rate is negligible. That’s important to note, since changing roughly half of a template is a big time and energy investment.

You might be wondering if these results hold true for every relationship. After all, if you just got off the phone with a prospect, they’re probably much likelier to reply to your email than someone you’ve never spoken to before -- whether or not that email is personalized. To account for this, we ran the same analysis on outreach emails.

The results were nearly identical: Personalization drives more replies, up to a point (the same 50% mark).

How You Should Use This Data

Good news: We’ve built an email personalization score so that you can determine while you’re composing an email if you’ve hit the sweet spot between not enough personalization and too much. It’ll also factor in your previous interactions with a contact, meaning you’ll get different scores if you’re emailing prospects at different stages in your sales pipeline.

We’ll be rolling this tool out in the near future. In the meantime, you can check out these real-life examples of personalized emails.

Low Personalization:

Template:

Hi [name],

It was very nice to meet you at [event]. We didn't get a lot of time to chat, so let me know if you would be interested in getting together for coffee or a quick call to learn more about each other's businesses and how I can help. You can check out my calendar and find a time that works for you here.

Thanks,
[Salesperson]

Sent Email:

Hi Jane Doe,

It was very nice to meet you at [event]. We didn't get a lot of time to chat, so let me know if you would be interested in getting together for a 15-minute call to learn more about each other's businesses and how I can help. You can check out my calendar and find a time that works for you here.

Thanks,
[Salesperson]

Text Distance Score: 0.05882 (Roughly 5% of words changed, Corresponds to roughly a personalization score of 1 on a 1-5 scale)

Moderate Personalization:

Template:

Hi there, Team [Company name]!

I was wondering if you were looking for content writers for your blog and/or for white papers? If so, i'd love to help. I've been writing for startups for a while and have a small team helping me. I'd be happy to jump onto a phone call or video chat if you wanted to talk about it :) I hope you have fantastic rest of your day and thanks for the consideration!

- Mat
P.S. Check out my blog here.

Sent Email:

Hi there, Team [Company name]!

First off, congrats on the new venture, [prospect]! I wish you many successes. :) I was wondering if you were looking for content writers to start up a blog for you? If so, i'd love to help. I've been writing for startups for a while and have a small team helping me. I'd be happy to jump onto a phone call or video chat if you wanted to talk about it.

I hope you have fantastic rest of your day and thanks for the consideration!

- Mat
P.S. Check out my blog here.

Text Distance Score: 0.27160 (Roughly 27% of words changed, Corresponds to roughly a personalization score of 3)

Significant Personalization:

Template:

Hello [prospect],

I left you a voicemail this morning to follow up with you. I know you were interested in looking into [rep’s company]. I'm happy to speak with you to discuss this opportunity. Please let me know if there is a better time to reach you.

Thank you,
[Salesperson]

Sent Email:

Hello [prospect],

I'm following up with you to introduce myself. I am the newest team member at [company]. I would love to touch base with you to see if the timing is right for you now. We have had so much going on in the last few months that I'd love to share with you. Please let me know when is a good time for a call.

Thank you,
[Salesperson]

Text Distance Score: 0.861538 (Roughly 86% of words changed, Corresponds to roughly a personalization score of 5)

The bottom line: Personalize your emails, but don’t spend 25 minutes on a single message. Your prospects will get a more human experience, and you’ll get a response. Win-win.

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