When you send the right email to the right person at the right time, it doesn’t feel like marketing. A targeted, deliberate email feels like it’s coming from a friend.

Unfortunately, not all emails feel so friendly, and that’s because many marketers still use email to send one-size-fits-all messages.

These one-size-fits all may be easy to send, but that doesn’t mean they’re effective. Rather than sending the same email to your entire list and expecting only a few people to open, you want to send targeted emails that people can’t ignore.

The best way to connect with subscribers is to personalize your emails. By targeting subscribers with individualized content, you move away from an impersonal mass message to an experience that feels relevant and engaging to the recipient.

Let’s look at how (and why) to build targeted email campaigns.

Personalization as an email tactic

Email is likely your most powerful marketing toolâ it boasts the highest ROI of any marketing channel from radio and tv commercials to PPC. What’s more: It converts 40X as many customers as social media.

Without personalization in your emails, however, your messages may go unread.

The reason: Customers respond to relevant messages targeted to them by name, featuring offers that are specific to their needs, and that connect with their current stage in the buyer’s journey.

The numbers don’t lie when it comes to the effectiveness of personalization:

  • Emails with the recipient’s name in the subject line are 26% more likely to be read. — Experian
  • Personalized email messages improve click-through rates by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%. — Aberdeen
  • 81% of online shoppers who receive emails based on previous shopping habits were at least somewhat likely to make a purchase as a result of targeted email. — eMarketer

So, what do you need to do to start making targeted email campaigns?

Getting started with personalization

When you’re ready to get serious about email personalization, there are two initial steps to take for best results.

1. Ask the right questions, get the right data

This should be your mantra when it comes to collecting customer information. At the end of the day, your email targeting will only be as good as the information you plug into it. In most cases, the best place to collect customer information is in your subscribe forms.

Think about what information you need to effectively customize your emails–and be sure to ask for it in the signup form.

2. Integrate your existing ecommerce platform and CRM

Integrating your ecommerce platform and CRM with your email platform means you can broaden your multi-channel marketing strategy. These powerful tools allow you to market wholistically to a complete customer profile–not just to a line on a spreadsheet.

For example: You can integrate your campaign with selling platforms like Shopify to further customize your emails for customers in VIP loyalty programs.

Making an email targeted

We now know that even simple personalized touches like using the recipient’s name can have a dramatic impact on open and click through rates. But that’s only the beginning. With tools like Campaign Monitor, you can customize every part of an email and make targeting a key ingredient to your overall marketing strategy.

Here are a few targeting tactics for building out an email with maximum relevance and resonance to your customers.

Targeting by location

What’s that picture of the New York City skyline doing in the background of the email you send out to customers in London?

For the same reason you want to call customers by the right name, you should choose images that reflect their locations. It turns out that a personalized image based on the recipient’s location can lead to a 29% increase in click-throughs compared to a generic image.

Campaign Monitor – Targeted Email Marketing by Location

Campaign Monitor’s email builder lets you customize images based on the recipient’s location. Simply select the images you wish to personalize, and then select the segment of your list you want it to show for (i.e., subscribers in Australia).

Targeting by gender

Relevance goes a long toward building trust. Once you’re over the hurdle of just getting someone to open your email, you’ll want to make sure the content is relevant to the reader. Irrelevant emails get deleted and often prompt recipients to unsubscribe or report spam.

One way to be more relevant is to take the recipient’s gender into account. By displaying different offers and copy based on demographics with what’s known as dynamic content, you can see how brands like Adidas master relevance within a single campaign.

Adidas – Targeted Email Marketing by Gender

Keep in mind that your demographic targeting will only be as good as your subscriber data. If you have customers’ shoe sizes, you can even target based on that.

Targeting via custom fields

Use custom fields to integrate any and all information you have about your customers into a campaign. Personalization tags make it easy to customize any part of the email copy.

You might send a thank you email featuring their first name in the copy, for example. (Don’t worry: B2B users can ensure that the recipient’s company is mentioned by name in the body of the email, too.)

Sephora – Custom Fields – Email Marketing

Targeting via purchase behavior

One of the most powerful targeting tools is targeting by purchase behavior. It’s a win-win feature that, if used well, translates to a more sales for you, and greater satisfaction for your customers.

By taking purchasing behaviour into account you can better reach customers based on where they are in the buyer’s journey, and maybe give them a little nudge into the next stage.

  • A timely deal might motivate someone to buy who’s been considering a purchase.
  • Re-engagement can turn one-time buyers into return customers.
  • A deadline (like a limited time offer) can encourage them to make a decision.

Monica Vinader - – Targeted Email Marketing by Purchase Behavior

Wrap up

Email targeting uses customer data to create the kind of personal touch that has been proven to boost clicks and increase revenue. Using a few simple steps, you can design emails to reach the right person at the right time with a message they will actually read.