The dreaded digital trash bin is the likely destination of even the most carefully crafted email campaigns if they fail to include one essential component – personalization. Today’s consumer expects personalized experiences, and the inbox is no exception. In an Adobe study, marketers responded that personalization would be the single most important capacity for marketing in the future.

Many marketers already use some degree of personalized email content. However, these efforts often don’t go much further than the recipient’s first name in the subject line. Granted, personalized subject lines do increase an email’s chances of being opened by 26%. But you can go far beyond this simple technique to achieve higher click-through and conversion rates.

Your customers want to be intrigued and excited by seemingly exclusive content tailored just for them. You want them to feel like that they’re more than just another address on your list. Uniform email blasts advertising general sales, services and products can portray just the opposite, almost an unvitation.

Personalized campaigns have proven worthwhile, as they can deliver 18 times more revenue than other campaigns. Keep reading to learn more about how to put the “custom” in your customer email efforts.

You’ve got mail – options

You can take your traditional email campaigns to the next level with a customer-specific mindset. Think about what you really want your customers to know, see or do. Then, manifest that into a variety of email messages.

This might be a message that showcases products you want to recommend based on the recipient’s browsing or buying history. It could be a newsletter highlighting important company or product updates. You can also leverage past data to send reminder messages to clients to reorder or renew products and services. The message could be an incentive email to motivate a customer to purchase and simultaneously reward buyer loyalty. Another personalized approach could be to encourage customers to complete abandoned purchases, which account for $4 trillion of lost revenue each year.

Personalization helps provide your business the chance to engage or re-engage with customers on an individual level. According to Econsultancy, nearly two-thirds of marketers agree that personalization increases customer engagement. Beyond sales, these campaigns can be used to showcase different projects and build customer relationships through VIP programs as well.

The essentials of custom emails

Personalized emails are much less likely to be deleted among a sea of messages. But it’s important to consider each step of your audience’s receiving process to ensure click-through. To start, the subject line should include the recipient’s first name as well as a targeted phrase that identifies specifically what they will get out of the email – that’s your hook.

Once the email is opened, design becomes essential. Including the customer’s first name in the message itself is a good practice, but you also want to personalize the imagery. By using demographic-specific images and design choices, you can increase click-through rates by 29%. This could include a range of graphics that people of different genders or locations might find more pleasing. Even the message format, buttons and overall appearance should be created with ease-of-access and the recipient’s preferences in mind.

Within the message body, links can be driven to personalized landing pages specific to the message content for an even more custom, user-friendly experience. Every message should be designed to turn a prospect into a paid customer with compelling content they won’t want to miss.

Personalization process from ‘compose’ to ‘send’

Personalizing isn’t as time intensive as it might seem. The first step is email list segmentation. Surveys and sign-up forms can help you collect relevant data about your contacts as well as tapping into customers’ buying and browsing histories, which email service providers can deliver. You can also integrate your email platform with your CRM to deepen customer profiles. From there, you can segment your list of contacts based on a range of traits (location, gender, style, interests, etc.).

This information will help you tailor messages, recommendations and incentives to better meet your customers’ tastes and needs. The extra time these email campaigns require will decrease as you streamline your personalizing efforts and utilize intelligent tools for campaign automation. ROI will increase as you see click-through rates improve by an average of 14% and conversions by 10%.

Efficiency is key, especially if you manage thousands of subscribers. Many tools exist that allow you to download contacts and automate much of the personalization process. You can also use AI tools to keep message information relevant at open-time. Some tools automate send times to reach your audience during periods of highest engagement. There are even apps that can help with list sanitation by keeping your lists clear of invalid addresses or identifying which recipients actually engage with your messages. Check out some of the most popular tools here.

Consumers are more likely to feel understood and valued by your brand if the content they’re receiving if specific to their wants and needs. These efforts not only communicate that customers’ individual interests matter, but also that your company is willing to go further than a quick-click email blast to satisfy them. This infographic from PostFunnel offers a helpful visual overview of personalizing the email experience.

Staying ahead of the curve in this marketing era means crafting the right content, delivered to the right target, at just the right time. And personalized email marketing can help you achieve that.