How 5 Retailers Use Personalized Emails For Unbelievable Results

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Ever had a personal shopper? You know – someone who finds perfect new clothes for you, thus saving you hours of wandering in department stores and trying stuff on in front of deceptive mirrors?

Personal shoppers are very popular right now. So popular that a number of personal shopper services have sprung up online. Trunk Club is one. Stitch Fix is another. For the guys, there’s Bombfell and The Chapar.

The whole personalized shopping thing is becoming quite the trend. And given how competitive retail is, this may be a new feature that becomes a requirement not too long from now.

It’s probably becoming a requirement for emails, too. Inboxes are as competitive as the mall, if not more so.

Marketers get this. In spades. 88% of us believe that personalization is imperative, according to new research from IBM.




If you’re planning on more personalization for your ecommerce emails (or you’re still a little on the fence about investing in this tactic), consider the five emails below. They’re all excellent examples of what’s possible. They also prove how effective personalization can be.


1. The Entertainer Toy Shop’s dynamic toy recommendations.

This is pretty close to an automated personal shopper. The UK retailer figured out how to get detailed customer preferences from its email subscribers. Then it used those preferences to send dynamically updated emails.

Here’s how it worked. The Toy Shop sent this email to parents and grandparents:



Notice how this email uses the information for birthday emails (one of the most effective triggered retail emails) and for Christmas (the biggest online sales event of the year). That’s a smart way to motivate their subscribers to complete the task, and to get highly actionable information.

The Toy Shop then uses this information to send emails like this:



The toys selected for each email are based on the preferences selected from that first email. But that information is also compared to whatever the current bestsellers are, and what’s in stock. Whatever appears in the email has to hit all three of those criteria.

So if Grandma opened this email in the morning, everything she’d see would be in stock. But if she opened it again in the afternoon, it might show different products – if the products from the morning version of the email had been sold out.

This is an impressive thing to pull off. It also got some impressive results:

  • A 44% increase in clickthrough rates
  • A 120% increase in mobile sales
  • A 60% increase in returning shoppers

And that doesn’t even include all the headaches and costs saved by not promoting out-of-stock products.

This isn’t some kind of outlier result, either. Research from Olapic and Moveable Ink says that conversion rate is 5.5 times higher after someone has clicked an email with a personalized recommendation. No wonder everyone thinks personalization is imperative.



2. Doggyloot’s emails for different dog sizes.

This is a great example of how different information can be valuable to different companies. In the case of Doggyloot’s emails, the valuable information was how big a subscriber’s dog is.

The online retailer managed to lift response rates by segmenting solely with this information. They did particularly well with large dog owners. The emails with large dog products got click-through rates 410% higher than the average Doggyloot email.




3. Halford’s subject line test.

We’ve all heard about the personalization tactic of inserting someone’s first name into an email subject line. It certainly works – emails with a personalized subject line had a 23.5% higher open rate than retailers’ other emails, according to Experian’s “Q2 2016 Email Benchmark Report”. But it’s also becoming almost a cliché of really basic personalization.

What about putting some other piece of personalized information into an email subject line? How about, say, the subscriber’s car model name?  That’s what Halford’s did below.



It worked pretty well, too. For the email that had the subject line “Take care of your [make of vehicle] with our January savings” (as opposed to the one with the subject line “Take care of your car with our January savings”):

  • Open rates were 54% higher
  • CTR was 13% higher CTR
  • There were 86% more bookings


4. Location-based dynamic content.

Location is one of my favorite things to personalize for. It’s ideal for local brick and mortar businesses and for events. But it can also work for online clothing retailers – no matter where they’re based.

Here’s an example of a location-based email just like that. It uses information about where people are to first figure out what the weather is like there. Then it’s smart enough to show them weather-appropriate clothing. According to Moveable Ink, who created this email, weather targeting can increase click-through rates by 39%.



5. Triggered emails from Zachys Wine & Liquor.

This is a story of not just optimizing emails, but of optimizing the entire ecommerce side of a company. Zachys Wine & Liquor had been focused mostly on offline sales, but finally decided to move into the online world. They used triggered emails as a core tactic.

They started with abandoned cart emails (one is shown below). Once those worked well, they expanded to product page abandonment emails, and then to search abandonment emails.

The result? A 53% increase in online sales, due largely to the triggered messages.





Clearly, there’s more to personalizing ecommerce emails (or any email) than just dropping first names into the subject line. Almost every element of the email can be personalized.

These examples also show that personalization doesn’t have to be limited to standard promotional emails. Triggered emails, aka behavioral emails, can be personalized, too.

It’s actually the blend of those two major email marketing trends – marketing automation and personalization – that seems to be getting the best results.


Back to you

Do you know of any other case studies about personalized ecommerce emails? If you do, please – tell us about them in the comments.



Author: Pam Neely has been marketing online for 18 years. She has a background in publishing and journalism, including a New York Press Award and a Hermes Creative Award for blog writing. Pam holds a Master’s Degree in Direct and Interactive Marketing from New York University and is the author of a bestselling Amazon Kindle book “50 Ways to Build Your Email Marketing List.” Follow her on Twitter @pamellaneely.

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