How To Personalize Your Emails Beyond “Hello *|FName|*”

Hello James!

Welcome to an inspiring blog post about personalization.

What? You’re not James? That’s…errr… unfortunate. You mean my sophisticated personalization didn’t work? Well at least it worked for a few percent of the male population.

its something email marketing

Want to know a secret? Personalization is key – especially in 2017. In fact, I predict that the biggest marketing trend in 2018 will be advanced personalization.

Proper personalization makes your marketing automation feel like 1:1 communication and allows you to get more in touch with your audience.

In today’s article I am going to show you a few ways you can personalize your emails beyond “Hello |FNAME|” – and how to avoid mistakes like the one in my intro.

Let’s get this show on the road!

Personalizing your emails by using the *|FName|*

First of all, you want to use your reader’s name in your emails. If you’re not asking for their first name when they sign up, you’re doing something wrong.

I have two advanced tips for you:

First, every two weeks go into your email service provider (I use Drip), pull a list of your new subscribers and check whether everyone has a proper first name. Some people will give you their whole name (“Christoph Engelhardt” instead of “Christoph”) during signup, others will have a typo in it (“Crhistoph”), and some won’t input a first name – correct those mistakes.

I’ve had people write me who noticed that I had added their first name. Small effort, huge win.

I also recorded a video detailing the process in Drip.

Secondly, don’t stop at using their first name in the salutation. Use it a second time somewhere in the body copy. Here’s an example from my latest Sleep Deprivation Sale:

sales email marketing example

Bonus: Avoid Common Mistakes With Send Check It 

Before we go any further, I promised to tell you how you can avoid common mistakes with personalization.

I’ve only recently learned about this tool, but it has already saved my ass twice: Send Check It checks your marketing emails for common errors such as malformed merge tags (“|*FNAME*| instead of *|FNAME|*), broken links, and missing images.

Super easy to use, too. Before you broadcast your email, you just send a test email (every good email marketing software has a button for that) to go {ät} and you’ll get a detailed report back in seconds.

Timing Is Everything. 

Next, let’s take a closer look at how you can personalize your emails through better timing.

When is the best day and time of day to send emails? The short and over-simplified answer for that is: Tuesday at 10 a.m (according to this awesome meta-study on the topic).

For optimal performance, make sure to send each email relative to your subscriber’s time zone – e.g. don’t send your readers in Hong Kong an email at 10 a.m. EST. Send it at 10 a.m. HKT (Yeah, Hong Kong Time).

Also, don’t just blindly push all your emails on tuesday at 10 a.m. Maybe your readers are more engaged with emails in the evening. Maybe they prefer to read them on the weekends. Test it and see what works for you!


Remember: using their first name and timing the emails perfectly are but the beginning end on the personalization spectrum.

The cool stuff happens when you use what you know about your reader to deliver a better experience.

First of all, you need to segment your list. There are dozens of ways to slice this cake, but common ones are:

  • by purchased product(s)
  • by lifetime value
  • by buyer persona

Obviously, you should keep track of which products each reader on your email list has bought in the past as well as the aggregated price of those products (the so called “lifetime value” or LTV).

Take a look at Brennan Dunn’s Double Your Freelancing brand and products. Brennan has a range of products, for slightly different audiences at different levels of business success:

  • Sell Yourself Online – an eBook (+ videos, workbooks, and short 1:1-consulting) selling in three tiers starting at $49
  • Double Your Freelancing Rate – an online course sold in two tiers starting at $147
  • Mastering Project Roadmaps – an online course priced at $597
  • Client Portal – a self-hosted software for consultants priced at $199

Can you see how there is a natural progression through those products? Someone might start consulting without an idea of how to sell this services – a perfect candidate for “Sell Yourself Online”.

Later, with some early wins under her she might feel like her work is more valuable and gravitate towards “Double Your Freelancing Rate”.

After some more time she might want to improve her close rate and buy “Mastering Project Roadmaps”.

Now, how can you use this natural progression to make more sales? It’s really simple. Since you keep track of the sold products, you can do something like this:

  1. Person buys “Sell Yourself Online”
  2. Wait 2-3 months, send helpful emails with evergreen content every week or two
  3. Send the person into a “launch sequence” for “Double Your Freelancing Rate” based on engagement with evergreen emails. The sequence could be 5-10 emails highlighting the benefits, offering a discount, setting a deadline, etc.
  4. If the person purchases “Double Your Freelancing Rate”, send her more evergreen content emails for 2-3 months, then promote “Mastering Projects Roadmaps” the same way. If not, send evergreen content emails and try again in 2-3 months
  5. Rinse and Repeat for other offers

Segmenting By Buyer Persona To Make Your Email Copy More Personal 

Lastly, I want to give you an idea of how you can segment your readers into different groups and tailor your marketing messages to each group.

Let’s take Brennan’s example again. He’s got a range of different verticals his products speak to: web developers, designers, marketing consultants, and so on.

What if you are able to tailor your email copy to each of these groups? What if you present each group with the testimonials and social proof that are most relevant to them?

Sounds impressive, right?

Well, you actually can, if you segment your list accordingly. Then it’s just a matter of writing the copy and using a bunch of control flow statements in your email software.

So, how do you segment your list by buyer persona?

Here’s how ridiculously easy it is: You ask them. In one of your first emails you include a little survey and ask them what vertical they are in: design, web development, marketing, etc.

For each of the options you have one link in the email. When they click the link, they get sorted into the right segment. Remember: Always have a “default” segment in case they do not click on any of the links

BOOM! That’s it.


Advanced personalization is a mighty sword you can wield to increase your conversion rate and move more product.

Make a list of all the things mentioned here, that you’re currently not doing and start improving on them. One small step each week and in 6 months you’ll have a killer email marketing automation setup.

About the author 

Christoph is the founder of and the author of the SaaS Email Marketing Handbook. In his spare time he loves to get lost hiking in the Alps. 

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