Unlocking the Unblast Step 2: Personalization

We defined the concept of the unblast: “The Secret” of Effective Email Marketing, and we introduced Step 1 in creating an unblast, so what next? Personalization. Personalization is considered a basic aspect of a successful email marketing program, but I think that may be a bit loaded. If you use personalization to cater the message content to that which the subscriber has interest, you win, but, if you only use the known first name in your email subject lines or content, you may have some work to do.

One of the most valuable and effective opportunities for personalization is using indicated interests, such as those selected during the email subscription process; or theoretical interests, such as those perceived from available data points, including order history data such as seasonality or other identifiable shopping trend, previously purchased products, items in or formerly in a shopping cart, etc.

These interests allow an email marketing message to be tailored to the customer, potentially to a one-to-one perfect match between their interests and your promotions – resulting significantly better engagement and conversion. How so, you ask?

Let’s go back to the snowboard shop. You have a handful of special offers, you have content and creative available for each, and you have a standard email template. Maybe one of the special offers is an additional 10% off closeout gear – that applies to most people, or, most people would at least find interest in it. That’s your main element.

Next, you have a sale on women’s snowboards, men’s snowboard boots, kid’s outerwear, and men’s sweatshirts. You can use dynamic content and a set of queries to push one or more of the elements into the email content.

The result? First, let’s say you only set up a few interests, such as men’s, women’s, and kid’s gear, non-exclusive. Using basic personalization and dynamic content, anyone who indicated they were interested in men’s items could the main element, the sale on closeout gear, and two additional elements, men’s snowboard boots and men’s tees. Any subscribers who indicated an interest in women’s gear would receive the main element as well as women’s snowboards, and those indicating an interest in kid’s gear would receive that content. If someone indicated an interest in men’s and women’s gear, they would receive three additional elements, and so on.

If you took your initial interest selection one step further, adding the option of selecting types of products a subscriber was interested in, you could further personalize the email based on more finite combinations of interests.


Is it easy? No. It’s going to add a lot of work to each campaign. It requires multiple offers, across multiple product ranges or other interest segments, and the data to back it up.

Is it legal? Yes, using customer-selected interests to personalize messages is upholding part of your promise when the subscribers signed up – you’re doing what your customers asked you to do. Caution, though, when considering use of theoretical interests. Using shopping cart and purchase history may breach regulations set for by GDPR, and many of those opportunities are dying with regulations placed on the use of cookies. It can also get a little creepy, and no one likes creepy.

Is it worth it? Yes. Beyond basic benefits including increased conversion rates and higher order values, you’ll likely also see increased engagement and customer loyalty, two benefits with long-term significance.


Have any questions about other aspects of an effective email “unblast” campaign? Leave them in the comments below – I have a few others planned, but always open to requests.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *