Email Marketing

Personalizing email marketing for ecommerce

Sending emails is one of the most efficient ways to promote your website and your products as an ecommerce store. Emails enable you to establish direct contact with your customers and to provide the information on your product your prospects can consume at their leisure. Email format makes it possible to include a large amount of information and is not limited by any arbitrary headline word counts.

Sending emails is one of the most efficient ways to promote your website and your products as an ecommerce store. Emails enable you to establish direct contact with your customers and to provide the information on your product your prospects can consume at their leisure. Email format makes it possible to include a large amount of information and is not limited by any arbitrary headline word counts.

Another advantage is that sending emails is very low cost and coupled with the inherent efficiency of email, provides a high ROI. According to Wordstream study, email creates $44 of revenue for every $1 spent. To increase the efficiency of your email campaigns, there is always one additional thing you can try and which many ecommerce retailers miss out is personalizing your emails.

Why should you personalize emails?

Personalization of an email means you take into account who your customer is and send them emails that will match their individual tastes, purchasing history, geolocation, etc. Personalized email makes emails more relevant, which not only means your customers see what they like, but it also shows them you understand them and value them.

Personalized email campaigns using even simple methods such as segmenting the email list have a significant effect on the revenue. A study done by Hubspot illustrates the importance of personalization for email campaigns. For example, segmented email campaigns had 760% higher revenue. Segmentation is one of the primary methods of personalization in emails.

How to personalize email

Email campaigns can be personalized in many different ways using various techniques and tactics. Personalization relies on the data you have on your customers. Each data point you have enables you to introduce more and more personal elements and increase the relevance of the emails for your customers.

You can use the data to segment your customers according to demographics, behavior, timing, interests or life cycle stage your prospect is in. Let us examine each method and see an example of how an ecommerce retailer used personalization.


Demographics is one of the easiest and most effective ways to personalize your emails. The demographics data includes gender, age and similar data about your customers. Using this data it is possible to tailor your emails to match different customers and offer them products or engage them with content likely to lead them to your website.

For example, ecommerce websites selling clothes can use gender demographics to make a distinction between males and females and send an appropriate offer to their male prospects. By showing only products that are suited for females, for example, it would make it more likely the prospect will click the email and get to your website and convert.

Here is an example:

Kohl’s uses demographics to send relevant emails  to the prospects

In the example of Kohl’s email marketing, they are using the demographics data to send an offer for maternity clothes. By using gender and age, they can pinpoint women likely to be expecting and promote appropriate clothing items.

Using demographics targeting also enables you to promote the content of your website that you know specific demographics group like and enjoy. This is a cost-effective way to increase your brand awareness and to deepen your customer's relationship with you. For example, promoting weekly or monthly updates on your blog content within a newsletter personalized to show the appropriate content to your prospects can lead to prospects developing a habit of checking your website. Increased engagement will make them like your website and make it more likely they will spend money.

Another way to use demographics is to target customers at specific locations. For example, if you sell clothes, you can use location to target customers in specific geographic areas with clothes appropriate for the current season and weather.

Using geolocation to promote appropriate products is another tactic brands use

By sending an email promoting warm clothes to the areas where it is currently winter and low temperatures provide prospects with a relevant offer and increase the likelihood they will purchase the product.

Behavior-based personalization

The ability to observe the customer’s behavior on your website allows you to understand a great deal about their habits and interests. By observing what content on your website they like, what products they have bought, viewed, added to the cart or recommended you can personalize your emails to them and offer them similar products, complementary products or content that helps them research prior to purchase or use your products more effectively.

Behavior-based emails are sent to your prospects based on their interactions with your website. To be relevant they need to be timely - that is sent at the moment you detected the action that triggers the email.

For example, if your customer has been viewing some content frequently, you can use email to send them more related content or promote the products related to the content. For example, if you have a website that sells digital cameras and you notice your prospect has been viewing blogs about taking family and vacation photos, you can send them an email promoting the line of digital cameras best suited for families or frequently bought by people with similar interests.

Amazon uses behavior targeting

For example, if you browsed a product on Amazon but did not complete the purchase, they will send you an email promoting products similar to the ones you checked. This is an effective way to make a prospect come back again and check the products and possibly buy. Accompanied by enticements, such as a discount or special offer, this type of personalized email has a strong likelihood to result in a conversion.

Another way to make customer behavior influence your email marketing and help you start interaction is time personalization. Timing your emails to make it more likely they will open requires you to know their habits. For example, one prospect may have a habit of opening your emails in the morning, while they go unnoticed in the afternoon. 

Using email marketing tools, you can schedule your emails at an appropriate time to get the maximum attention of your prospect. By tracking emails over an extended period of time, you can personalize the schedule of your email according to groups or even individually.

MeUndies uses behavior trigger in the absence of activity

Another example of using behavior trigger to send an email is how MeUndies sends an email offering a 20% discount and a money-back guarantee to remove any risk. This email contains an incentive in the form of discount and urgency by limiting the offer for a few hours.

Purchase history

Constantly engaging your regular customers is the best way to increase their customer lifetime value, engage and delight them by offering relevant products based on their previous activities. There are several tactics you can use for this.

If you sell various products that are complementary to each other, for example, if you sell bedding, you can offer your customers accompany a sheet they just bought with matching pillowcases. By offering complementary products, you can offer your customer additional purchase with a high likelihood of success.

Amazon tries to match customer taste in books and uses email to engage their past customers by offering them books with similar thematics or frequently bought by people who bought the books from customers’ purchase history.

Amazon offers top picks for each month, based on customers previous purchases and behavior

Promoting new products based on customer purchase preferences is one way to personalize your email marketing and make it more likely your customer will convert and buy a new product. Amazon does this by sending out a monthly list of the best books to their customers.

Another brand promoting a new product uses customer browsing and purchase history to offer a new product they have just developed.

Joovv launched a new product and promotes it using email

By pointing out why the customer who already owns a product should cash out for this new product, Joovv offers several explanations. If a customer already liked what they had, getting a new portable product to accompany them wherever they go would seem a natural addition to many customers.

Combining multiple data points

While each of the methods previously outlined can be effective by itself, combining several data points will be even more effective, allowing even narrower personalization. Combining gender, age, location, and purchase habits, can allow you to match the prospect’s intent and offer the products they may be interested in and trigger a conversion.

For example, you could match when a customer bought a gift to their spouse and remind them of the occasion (birthday, anniversary or other). This allows you to predict the future behavior of your regular customers and delight them by offering them products they may like even before themselves remember to do it.


Personalizing emails to match the intent, demographics, and interests makes it more likely the email will be opened and your prospect will convert when they reach the landing page.

However, it is possible to personalize your emails too much. Avoid using the data you should not have, even if you managed to get those data. When you are collecting the data about your customers, through surveys, polls or other types of forms clearly denote the data you will use to make your emails more personalized.

Crippy personalization can have the opposite effect from what you want to achieve and drive customers away from your website.

Also, failed personalization in emails can have a negative effect and actually drive people off. For example, if your customer buys a gift, you may inadvertently classify them as being interested in something they actually are not. If you can, include a checkbox to enable your customer to indicate the product they bought was a gift and do not use it as a data point.

Another way personalization may fail is when you use automated codes to match the customer name, gender, etc. If you make a small typo, you can end up having all your customers named ‘name’, for example, instead of a customized first name.

The third type of error is an error in automation logic. If you use email automation tools, you can inadvertently make a mistake that results in the email with an irrelevant message being sent to prospects.

For example, there is a famous example of a mistake Amazon made a while back, which even got widely reported by the news.

Amazon sent the message to thousands of email addresses, many of which had no baby registry or even children

If you avoid mistakes and make your personalization effort dedicated, your email campaign will likely drive up your revenues and conversion rate at a relatively low cost.

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