How to Start with Basic Personalization for your campaigns

This is the second part to the series of “Getting Personal” — which talks about the importance of personalization in marketing.

The first part, talks about the what constitutes personalization and why we crave personalization. It can act as a good primer for the posts that follow it. You can read it here.

However this post is an independent read in itself

We all know about the importance of personalization.

But how do we get it on the road?

Though any digital service can be personalized, the easiest channel to personalize is your emails. So that’s what we will take for this post.

And in fact once we understand how this works for emails, personalizing in other channels becomes easier — as all channels work more or less follows the same principles.

Email personalization is the most basic and the easiest and acts as a great primer for understanding how personalization will work for other communication platforms as well

So here goes

The basic ingredient are three

  • Your customer’s database, where you have some details — Just the first name will do as well, as starters
  • An email that you create
  • An email distribution tool — For this post, I am taking example of Mailchimp. Any other email provider will do just as well

The database- All email campaign starts with your database. Database has data fields — basically an excel with rows and columns. The first column has the first name, the second email and so on. Like the one below

The email — Now lets talk about the email that you want to send out.

An email is basically a mass of HTML code. Something like this

Since its a bundle of code, this means that you can do a lot of cool stuff with it. For one, it can be made dynamic by using specialized codes.

Lets talk about this dynamic part a bit. Why dynamic? Simple — If you have a database of 100, you can personalize in two ways. One — you create a 100 emails and put in a different name in each email. Or — secondly, you can use the power of a simple code to do this for you automatically.

This is done by what is termed as tags in coding parlance. Tags are basically code snippets which refer to a particular column in the data.

What this code does does is that it picks up the data from column you choose and makes it a part of where you want in the email. Simple! Like Point and Shoot.

Say if you want a first name to come as a salutation, ie you want the email to start with Dear “First Name”.

In case of Mailchimp, all you need to do is add the code *|FNAME|* to the email HTML right after Dear. So the code will read Dear *|FNAME|*. Just ensure that the name of the column which has the first name in your database is named FNAME.

Each email provider will give you its own tag — If you are making your own email provider, you can code the tag the way you want. You can read about the mailchimp tags in more detail here

When the campaign goes out, Mailchimp will simply pick up the first name and populate the field.

Basically all email providers work in the same way. The only things that change are the way tags are configured and named.

That’s it — Its that simple! You just did your first personalized campaign

Once you can do this, go creative with the personalization that want to do

  • Add a dynamic subject line with the name of the customer group— check
  • Name of the company — check
  • Name of the city — check
  • Birthday date — check.

You get the idea!

Now that you understand how it works for an emailer, you can now use this basic concept and use it for any communication with your customers. Be it text, website popup — you name it.

All of it works on the same principle — your database, a code to pick it up dynamically and software which recognizes the code, to send it out.

And any additional cost of this cool, powerful feature for a Digital Guerrilla? — Zip, Nada :)

In the next part I talk about marketing automation — the next evolution in email marketing. This takes the personalization possible to a whole new level.

MailChimp Digital Marketing Guy Help Scout Mark Growth



Entrepreneur @ Weaddo. Writing at intersection of Technology, Culture, History.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store