In our digital society, everyone receives hundreds of emails making it easy for yours to get lost in the shuffle. Personalized emails stand out because they make people feel like you care about meeting their business needs. We asked sales pros to share advice on how to personalize emails to drive business growth.
Here are 15 email personalization tips from top sales professionals.
1. Create a Repeatable Process
Brian Bauer, Managing Director, The Venture Center
Personalization is about more than just inserting a name in an email. It’s about being compelling to your prospects and leads. It starts with data and knowing which of your prospects and leads are engaging with your initial outreach efforts or emails. Create a repeatable process that develops sales qualified leads and then focus on delighting those qualified leads with thoughtful and personalized content that creates a connection.
2. Put Yourself in the Reader’s Shoes
Andrea Reeves, Owner, Artisan Photography
Imagine you’re the reader and you desperately want to delete this email as quickly as possible without any consequences. When you approach your emails like this, you stop trying to do too much and they become shorter, easier to scan, and usually focus on one simple goal. It also helps to read your email on a mobile device, which makes it clear you’re not trying to keep their attention too long.
3. Be Genuine
Jessica Magooch, CEO, JPM Sales Partners
In a world crowded by bots and automated emails, it’s easier than ever to stand out in a saturated market. Personalizing is one of those things that if you do it, period, you’ll get better results. Don’t worry so much about how to do it, just do it in a personal, genuine way. That means not relying on mail merging, but truly personalizing it with information you’ve found about that person—LinkedIn’s a great place to start.
For instance, “Dear Joe, I noticed you went to Penn State … Go Lions! Have you been back for a game recently?” Then you can say whatever you want, but you’ve got Joe’s attention and Joe knows you’ve chosen him specifically to receive this email, and you’re not leaving it up to him to decide if the email is relevant.
4. Use Your Prospect’s Name & Resend Unopened Emails
Robert Blake, Digital Marketing Consultant, Arkansas Federal Credit Union
Add the person’s first name in the subject line—it leads to higher open rates. If you’re using an email marketing service like MailChimp or Active Campaign, resend the email 24 hours later to people who haven’t opened your message—it can have a big impact on open rates and replies.
For more information on how to segment, and so personalize, your email marketing campaigns, read our ultimate guide on email marketing.
Jason Aten, Staff Writer, Fit Small Business
One great way to make your introduction emails stand out is to include video in your message, especially if you are selling over the phone rather than in person. BombBomb, for example, is easy-to-use software that allows you to send video emails directly from your Gmail with simple-to-use recording tools to quickly send personalized email messages. Sign up for a 14-day free trial today, no credit card required.
6. Remember to Be a Human
Nate Disarro, Founder, Content Titan
When trying to capture the attention of another person, treat them as such. A quick, simple greeting will make them feel more appreciated than just simply “Hi, Jim.” Do these three things the next time you send an email and it will improve your relationship with the human on the other end.
Acknowledge them by name at the beginning of an email chain or at the start of a new day. “Hi, Laura.” Include a comment of goodwill: “I hope your day is off to a great start.” Conclude the email with a simple, “Thanks” if you are making a request or “Best” if you are rounding out the communication for the time being. These may seem like the basics, but it’s something most people don’t do.
7. Follow Up With a Text
Mark Shandrow, CEO, Asana Recovery
The easiest thing to increase your open rate for an email is putting the recipient’s first name in the subject line followed by a direct subject line. Then, follow up with a text message. We use a combination of texting and email when interacting with potential clients and partner businesses.
8. Create a Clear Call to Action
Lauren McManus, Co-Founder, Create and Go
Ask questions that actually provoke a response. Give the recipient a reason to reach out and tell you what they are thinking. For example, it could be something as simple as asking a reader “What’s holding you back from launching your business? Email me back and let me know.”
Not only will readers respond, you now have an opportunity to engage with them and develop your relationship further. As a result of this level of personalization, sometimes readers won’t just respond, they will also buy your products and services because you have resonated with them and their needs.
Laura Handrick, Senior Staff Writer, Fit Small Business
Add something personal to your email signature block beyond your name, title, and phone number. It could be a link to a book they’ve recently read or a motivational quote. The recipient will feel like, in addition to the email, they’re getting a little gift. It fosters rapport and often makes them more willing to respond or help them out with your request. If you’re using a motivational quote, try using a service such as Fiverr to create an image for the quote to make it stand out.
10. Focus on Quality Over Quantity
Sid Soil, Founder & CEO, DOCUDavit Solutions
I believe there’s no substitute for a good, personalized, heartfelt outreach email that demonstrates you did your homework and are committed to building a formative relationship.
This personalized approach will result in sending fewer sales emails, but you can be more selective and discriminatory with who you target and how you communicate with them. When personalized sales emails are done well, they will achieve a much higher success rate then generalized e-blasts or Listservs.
Focus on the big picture outcome (the sales leads you convert) instead of the output (the number of emails you send, rows in your lists, opened emails, etc.). Your email sales campaigns will become more successful and profitable.
11. Grab the Prospect’s Attention With Something Personal
Kimberlee Leonard, Staff Writer, Fit Small Business
When I sent insurance quotes to people after an initial phone call, I’d ask them what their favorite chocolate bar was. Chances were they called five agents to get multiple quotes, so if I put “Milky Way” in the subject, they’d know it was me. More of my emails got opened. This won’t work for cold email but is a very effective way to personalize a new relationship.
12. Use Social Media to Engage Prospects
Bozhena Sheremeta, Founder, TheHustleIsFemale.com
Our brand is well-represented on Instagram and so I email prospects straight from our company IG account. I only approach people who have their profile public and all set up—highlights, branding, frequent posting, sharing company updates, etc. This shows that people are ready to do business even on Instagram and they don’t take it as a hobby.
Before messaging I follow them for a week or two and figure out what they post and share to understand them better. That gives me an idea of what I could approach them with. For example, I start off with “Hey, I’ve been following you and your business page and I loved this specific product, or your post about, etc. This instantly gives my message a different angle as I sound more detail-oriented and caring. It also gives me a better understanding of how their brand could benefit from partnering with us, whether it’s a one-time Instagram story takeover or the whole series of articles that feature their brand.
13. Research Your Prospect
Sanjay Patel, Founder & Director, Awesome Business, Teclogiq
Check your prospect’s LinkedIn, Twitter, Google, and Facebook profiles for shared backgrounds, hobbies, likes, and dislikes. Do you have something in common that’s not particularly common?
Mention it in your email. Highlighting unusual similarities—especially in initial outreach—could be the leg up you need to get a reply from someone who might otherwise ignore you. You should also highlight mutual connections because when it comes to valuing the opinions of others, we take cues from people we already know and trust.
14. Discover Professional Connections
Jacob Edwards-Bytom, Director of Ecommerce, Made4Fighters
My suggestion is to research the person you are contacting. For example, I like to look them up on LinkedIn. This quickly lets me know if we share any professional connections. I also can see where they went to school and past positions they’ve held.
I can then use this information to tailor my pitch and mention things we may share in common. When it comes to sales emails, it’s so easy to spot a form email, so a little bit of personalization goes a long way.
15. Develop Engaging Subject Lines
Tatiana Buyanova, Head of Business Development, Travelpayouts
The main task when writing an email is to get the recipient to open the email. It doesn’t matter how ingeniously you designed the inside if the recipient doesn’t get there. The decision to open is made based on your reputation and title. You have to work on persuading people to open the letters.
There is one technique that I like and that I try to use. It’s called “checking the bar.” Imagine a bar in which all the tables and chairs are occupied by your audience on a Friday night. The audience is resting there. Nobody thinks about you. Then suddenly you burst into the bar and loudly announce the subject line you just came up with. Will the people in the bar turn and look at you? At least 20%? 10%? If you know that they will turn, then the headline is good.
The Bottom Line
Knowing how to personalize emails is crucial in a competitive marketplace with crowded inboxes. Email personalization helps small business owners stand out, build rapport, and let prospects and clients know how much they value their business. Try out some of these tips from the pros to maximize your email outreach efforts with increased email opens and responses to close more deals.
Before you can take advatage of these tips, you must build a quality email list. Learn the steps to do so by reading our guide on how to build an email list for your business.