Elaine Fogel
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If you’re not personalizing the emails you send, pay attention. Your open rate is going to be lower.

A new study by Mailer Mailer confirms what many marketers have suspected for a while. Personalizing emails works. The only catch is… you can’t over-personalize.

So, here are the goods:

  • If you personalize the subject line only, open rates average 12.9%. But, if you personalize the message only, average open rates jump to 13.2%.
  • Both are still better than not using recipients’ names at all. The average rate for non-personalized email is 9.8%.
  • But, get this. If you want to go overboard and use personalization in both the subject line and the message, forget it! The average open rate drops to 5.3%. Too much of a good thing, I suppose.

Now, for the paradox on click-through rates. (This is where it gets weird.)

  • If you personalize the subject line only, click-through rates average 2.1%. But, if you personalize the message only, average click-through rates rise to 2.4%.
  • Again, both are still better than not using recipients’ names at all. The average click-through rate for non-personalized email is a mere 2%.
  • And now, the paradox. If you personalize both the subject line and the message, the click-through rate jumps to 2.8%!

So, how should you personalize your emails?

Recipients can’t click through on links they haven’t seen IF they haven’t opened your emails. So, stick with personalizing the message only, write engaging content and try to increase click-throughs organically.

Of course, the best way to know what works best for your own lists is to test it!


What’s been your experience? Have you been personalizing your emails? How do your average open and click-through rates compare with the study?

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3 Responses to Personalize Your Emails for Better Open Results

  • Elaine,

    Being a bit of a rookie, how do go about personalizing emails? Lets say you have a email list of 2000. That would take quite some time. So I guess I am asking more of a technical question, because I certainly see the value as you have pointed out.

    • Hi, Jim. Personalizing emails is easy when you use an email service provider. Each provider offers a special code or tag you insert in your chosen location. The system uses your subscriber information to insert the name accordingly.

      For example, my provider uses this: #first_name#. Once the emails are processed, the code gets replaced by the individual’s first name.

      If you’re still using your own personal email service provider (ESP) to send out 2000 emails, you may want to reconsider it. There’s a risk that your emails can be “blackballed” by many recipient servers, plus, you won’t have any response rates to know if what you’re doing is working or not.

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