Personalization Matters

6 Ideas to Make Your Email Campaigns More Relevant

Capacity Interactive AUTHOR: Capacity Interactive
Oct 31, 2016
4 Min Read

Let me take a wild guess…Your organization’s open and clickthrough rates are 20-30% and 2-3%, respectively.

Good news: You’re average.
Bad news: You’re average.

Here’s the deal, the majority of organizations are doing email marketing, well, just averagely. We have the tools, we have the data, we have the opt-ins. Yet, we continue execute one-size-fits-all/batch and blast/easy peasy campaigns. And because we aren’t trying that hard, there is little chance we will ever get past being average.

But, there’s hope. Enter personalization.

Look around at any study on email personalization and you’re bound to notice one trend: Personalization makes emails more relevant for subscribers, resulting in higher open and clickthrough rates. VentureBeat’s most recent study saw increases of 2.5x higher open rates and—wait for it—6x more sales. Capacity Interactive’s own 2015 Arts Industry Digital Benchmarks Study saw similar results with personalized campaigns resulting in an almost 100% increase in open rates.

But, personalization isn’t easy. So, where do you start? Assuming you have a solid email service provider, relevant and clean data on your customers and/or donors, and content to support different personalization opportunities, here are 12 ideas from easiest to hardest on how to personalize your email campaigns.

The Beginners

From Name
Easily the most prominent displayed item on your campaign, it’s no surprise that 68% of Americans say they base their decision on whether or not to open a campaign on the From Name.


You can personalize the From Name so that different subscribers see different names. Leverage this personalization opportunity when patrons and donors are assigned specific sales or account people. Arts organizations could also test From Names that mirror upcoming exhibits or shows (i.e. Pavel Zuštiak @ the Walker Arts Center) to grab potential fans attention right off the bat.

Subject Line
Right after the From Name, the Subject Line is a tried and true place that organizations can use to better personalize their campaigns. Consider leveraging subscriber’s first and/or last names, which have been shown to increase open rates by 26%. You’ll also want to try personalizing

The Understudies

Your email’s copy presents ample opportunities to personalize. Along with using subscriber’s salutation, first name, and/or last name, arts organizations can take literally any piece of data and use it to insert personal information (i.e. last show/event attended, birthday, anniversary) right within any campaign.

Beyond personalizing copy within your email’s content, images are also becoming a big personalization opportunity largely because non text-based content—images, video, augmented reality—are what people enjoy looking at across the web these days. Email is no different.

Images could be personalized by demographic, purchase, and/or location data. Movable Ink is leading the charge with the ability to insert personalized imagery based on data. Your email service provider could also have the features that can help you execute these opportunities.


The Leads

Purchase/Donation Intent and/or History
Purchase intent, or customer behavior on your website, and purchase history are two additional, albeit more advanced personalization opportunities. You’ll likely need to work with your point-of-sale and/or ecommerce/web teams to exchange data or, even better, integrate those systems with your email service provider to be able to execute these types of campaigns.

Real-time/Conversational Data
Have an event or show #hashtag? Why not integrate Tweets right into your email campaigns? Yes, you can do that ;). Check out Litmus’ blog post on how to make this happen.

The Encore

You didn’t think I would give you just six tips, did you? Here are two more…

Donors love understanding the impact their dollars have on the organization. One way to leverage personalization would be to utilize your donor levels (i.e $100, $250, $500, $1,000, $10,000) and develop content (images and/or copy) that speak to the impact of those dollars.

Life Events
Birthdays and purchase anniversaries are other great data points that your organization can utilize to send personalized campaigns. These types of campaigns always generate better open rates and provide ample opportunities to not only celebrate your customers, but give you another opportunity to provide information on upcoming shows or events.

Personalization doesn’t have to be hard and can yield significant impacts on your organization’s email marketing results. Start with the easier opportunities and build from there. If you’ve started leveraging personalization, what’s working and what isn’t? Let us know in the comments below.

Michael Barber is the founder of barber&hewitt. He spoke at Digital Marketing Boot Camp for the Arts on Hello It’s Me: The Adele Guide to Email Marketing