How to personalize your email content without being creepy

Personalization is king in the digital marketing world.

Consumers expect personalization.

But as most data researchers know, what people say they want and how they actually behave are two different things.

So when your aunt can’t understand why she went to go shopping for a new pair of slippers online and now sees an ad for slippers everywhere she goes on the internet “HOW DID THEY KNOW!?” You can just give her a knowing shrug.

People get creeped out easily when their behavior online is reflected back to them in unlikely spots.

The same is true of email marketing. There are a million powerful tools that provide product recommendations based on browsing history and Abandoned Cart emails that show your customers what you left in the cart.

We also slice and dice our email lists (hopefully) into segments so we can better serve messaging to our subscribers.

So how you deliver email content that people say they want without them knowing that you’re watching them. YOU. ARE. WATCHING. THEM.

Here are a few ideas from some unlikely places.


1. Don’t Tell Them It’s Personalized

Guess what your subscribers don’t know? That you selected them to receive a targeted, personalized message.

They do not know what segment they are in.

They don’t even realize how much of their online behavior you are tracking.

They don’t know that you can aggregate their data and use fancy, schmancy AI tools to predict when or what they’ll buy next.

They. don’t. know.

So when you send them personalized content, offers or products that really resonates with what they’re looking for, DON’T TELL THEM YOU’VE BEEN WATCHING THEM.

For example, I see lots of copy like “Selected just for you.” or “You might like…” or “Based on your history…”

No. No. No.

Try instead saying….nothing!

Or if you need a headline “You won’t want to miss this/these…”

Keep it general. The content/product/service will speak for itself.

2. Make Them Laugh

Humor is disarming and people LOVE to laugh.

I’m laughing right now I love it so much.

So when you’re sending content that is clearly targeted, instead of being dry with “Are you still interested?” or “Curated just for you” try something along these lines…

Got product/service/content on your mind? Us too.
We were thinking of you (not in that way, ew)…
What’s better than a new pony for your birthday!? These recommendations.

You get the gist. You can make it clear that they’ve been targeted but keep light.

So what did we learn today?

  1. Stop letting know people you’re a creep. I mean, stop giving away your secret targeting sauce.
  2. And make your subscribers smile! They can’t frown if they’re smiling.

Happy emailing!

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