Email Marketing Automation: The Key to Unlocking Next-Level Personalization (With Examples!)


The importance of personalization in marketing is well-documented at this point, and most marketers have realized the value of making experiences and messages more relevant to individuals.

But despite this growing focus on 1:1 marketing, many marketing programs go without meaningful personalization in their emails. Nearly 40% of marketers said they almost never personalize their emails last year.

Even among organizations that do conduct some amount of personalization, it is often limited to the same basic customization marketers have been using for years: a first name in the salutation, a recent purchase in the body, and so on. These can be effective tactics, but today’s consumers have come to expect much more from brands.

Obstacles to Relevance

Most marketers would probably do more personalization if they could. But adding meaningful, individualized relevance to emails is often some combination of expensive, time consuming, or prohibitively difficult.

As I explained in our recent webinar, there are some constantly-growing headwinds marketers across industries and business sizes have to fight if we want to find success:

“Email volumes are continuing to rise, so standing out in a crowded inbox is more and more important to marketers and brands. Technologies are continuing to advance, and customer expectations are rising around what the brand experience is and they’re expecting more customized, more relevant experiences to be communicated with them. We’ve seen universally across the board email marketing teams tend to be resource-constrained, making it a challenge for brands to adapt to the high expectations of consumers. And it’s vital that marketers are able to offer compelling experiences in a way that’s scalable and sustainable for these resource-strapped programs.”

It’s impossible to hand-craft a customized email to every person on the mailing list. That just would not sustainable at any significant scale. There’s only one way marketers can deliver personalized experiences to all their subscribers: automation.

The beauty and magic of email automation is that it lets you scale up personalization to broad audiences. And not just elementary personalization like putting a name in the subject line, but advanced email personalization experiences as well.

If you need a way to upgrade your automated personalized emails to drive better results, try one of these powerful email personalization automation hacks:

Insert Evolving Content that Never Gets Old

Try inserting content into your that stays ‘evergreen’ and gives openers a reason to come back for more. Adding email features that automatically update upon open means you can constantly serve a fresh experience with minimal upfront input.

Some ideas:

  • A social media feed that automatically displays the hottest posts on a trending topic or the most recent posts by your brand. This is an especially effective way to take advantage of the power of User Generated Content. Word of caution: depending on the feed you set up, this may need some curation to make sure all the content is appropriate!
  • Elements that display content hosted on your site that changes frequently, like featured blog posts or the latest articles on a subject the recipient has expressed interest in.
  • A stream of products pulled from your ecommerce site highlighting current hot best-sellers, updating based on available inventory.

For maximum relevance, make sure this content is structured to update upon open—not just when the emails are deployed. That not only makes sure you’re sending the freshest, most pertinent information; it makes each email open a fresh, novel experience.

As my webinar co-host and Oracle Marketing Cloud Product Marketing Manager Bryan Finfrock explained:

“This is just a great example of doing something above and beyond for customers; adding value and giving them a reason to open that next message, giving them something to look forward to in the experience that makes them want to participate with your brand.”

Send Emails That Adapt to Their Environment

Today’s consumers are more mercurial than ever; constantly on the go and rapidly shifting their interest from one topic to the next. Your email automation needs to change fast to keep up and perpetually bring value through real-time relevance.

Make emails capable of adapting to open-time context for the best relevance and engagement. Include elements that respond to the context of the opener—and your business—right when the email is opened. Some inspiration to try:

  • A map feature displaying your brand’s closest store or facility to the subscriber to the location it was opened.
  • Play off of real-time environmental factors for the opener’s location, like weather or pollen count, to make your messaging more impactful
  • Display real-time pricing and the latest deals at the time-of-open.

These are just a few of the ways you can increase relevance and personalization in your email marketing without having to make a big incremental investment in time and resources. We included a more comprehensive list, complete with effective and inspiring examples, in our latest ebook, Automating Personalization: 5 Ways to Scale Relevance in Your Email Marketing.

Download it now entirely free and start down the path to more relevant, more engaging, more effective emails!


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