Circle Insights

Four tips for advanced email personalisation

Matthew Slaymaker

Consider how many emails you get in a day. Even in the aftermath of GDPR, we bet it’s still a lot. Increasingly, people have very little time to read even the most important emails they receive.

So as a marketer, it’s vital to make the most of that tiny window. And personalisation is key to delivering content that a recipient will actually read – it’s no coincidence that one client we spoke to noticed an 18% uplift in revenue when sending more targeted messages.

When it comes to advanced email automation techniques, the best brands all have one thing in common: they use personalisation creatively, to make their campaigns more relevant, and meet customers’ increasing expectations.


For the best performing organisations, personalisation goes way beyond the basic “first name in the subject line”. They use it to:

  • Relate to their audience through personal preferences
  • Deliver better customer experiences
  • Reduce churn and drive loyalty
  • Increase revenues

Personalisation doesn’t have to be complicated. For many time-sensitive communications, it can be as simple as ensuring you have the right information, at the right time, and aimed at the right person.

But it does rely on adhering to four rules, which every successful campaign needs to follow.

1 – Personalise From The Start

If you’ve overcome the first and most important hurdle of getting a subscriber to open your email, that’s great. But the bad news is the work is far from over.

There’s no point personalising the content near the end of your email, if your customer won’t get that far. You need to grab their attention by putting your most relevant and personalised content first. Or else they simply won’t read any further.

Just like you’d optimise your website structure, you need to ensure your most interesting and relevant information and CTAs – for that individual – are right at the top of the page. That way, you maximise the chance they’ll start to scroll down.

One client told us this simple structure change far outperformed any variations they tested in their email’s content or offers.

2 – Design Matters

For many leading brands, emails are a continuation of their website’s design. And having images with the same dimensions makes it easier to set up many personalisation options.

What’s more, by linking module copy and images from your website to your emails, the chances of making mistakes within an email is greatly reduced.

But it’s important to strike a balance: something that looks good, but that’s also very functional – and that the majority of email clients can handle.

And don’t forget to test how your design works across a wide range of devices. What works on a wide PC monitor may become fiddly and difficult on a small mobile screen.

Speaking of testing…

3 – Test And Learn. Constantly.

From big module structure changes, to minor colour or CTA tweaks, the importance of constantly testing what works can’t be overstated.

It’s the quickest and most accurate way to understand what individual customers like, and the reason why most major brands have transferred what they’ve learned from years of website testing over to their emails.

But one of the most important pieces of advice leading email marketers gave us is to not be afraid to fail.

Remember, a failure against the control is still a success, so long as you learn from it.

4 – The Future Is Real-Time Personalisation

For some leading organisations, real-time personalisation software like Liveclicker has proven a valuable asset.

We talked to one of our clients who uses Liveclicker on millions of emails each year. They said: “With real-time email changes, we have the ability to change time-limited offers or swap-out events that have sold out depending on when the email is opened. It puts us at an immediate competitive advantage.”

Especially if your inventory changes regularly, this may be something you need to seriously consider to stay competitive.

And if you want to take it that step further, AI – the ability to use machine learning that learns from subscriber behaviour to tailor the content of an email, where it’s placed, and in what style – is likely to be a game-changer surprisingly soon.


There’s no denying it, successful email marketing is hard. And as the number of emails increases – and customers have even less time to read even the most important messages in their inboxes – it’s only getting harder.

Every person on your database will cost you money to lose. So it’s critical you encourage them to stay and respond to what you’re sending.

Highly personalised and targeted emails – which are constantly optimised though a process of test-and-learn – are your best chance to help maintain and grow your database.

Your customers will not only thank you, but you’ll notice the results.


Our whitepaper tells you how you can overcome key challenges when it comes to delivering personalised customer experiences.

If you want to find out more about the amazing things we do with data, then feel free to get in touch.

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Matthew Slaymaker