5 Creative Email Personalizations That No-one Else is Doing


It’s a well established that personalizing emails increases the goal conversion rate of a cold email campaign.

The effectiveness of personalization is summed up by a study from Campaign Monitor that suggests that personalization can lead to a 760% increased ROI from email campaigns.


Chart showing marketers’ experiences with the effectiveness of email personalization. Source: https://www.salecycle.com/blog/featured/18-essential-email-marketing-statistics/


While personalization of emails is still an effective tactic, if all marketers make the same personalizations, recipients will become fatigued.

It is therefore vital to add personalizations that other email marketers do not.

Here are 5 creative email personalizations to help ensure that your emails always stand out from the rest of the inbox.

Let’s dive in.


1. The “Nearby Coffee Shop” Personalization


If you are building out an email sales campaign targeted at businesses that are local to you, and the conversion goal of your email is to try and book a face-to-face meeting, then suggesting a nearby coffee shop to your prospect’s office can be a charming personalization.

This personalization taps into people’s preference to “buy local”, while at the same time demonstrating the fact that you have researched your prospect’s company individually.


What type of campaign is this suitable for: This type of personalization is best for email campaigns targeted at businesses that are local to you where the campaign goal is to arrange a face-to-face meeting with your prospect.


What data is needed for this personalization: While building out your prospect list, you will need to find an independent coffee shop, or another suitable public meeting place, within a five-minute walk of your prospect’s office. 


You can find this information on Google Maps. Add the name of this meeting place in a separate column of your email list spreadsheet.


Example of this personalization: “I’d love to book a meeting with you to discuss this further, perhaps in {{nearby meeting place}} just around the corner from you?”


2. The Honest Name Drop


Mentioning a prospect’s colleague in a cold outreach email is a tactic that has been somewhat abused by cold emailers. People have become wise to this technique, and now approach such openers with a healthy dose of skepticism.


There is, however, an effective way of personalizing your emails to include the name of a prospect’s colleague that does not require you to know the colleague in question, nor does it resort to bending the truth.


Rather than saying that you already know a colleague, simply recommend that a relevant colleague becomes a part of the conversation that you are trying to have.


For example, if you are emailing an HR Director trying to offer a free trial of your HR software, it may be worth suggesting that an IT Director or other senior HR manager be included in any further dialogue that you have about this.


Mentioning these colleagues by name has the triple effect of:

  • Demonstrating that you have taken the time to research your prospect
  • That you can understand who the key beneficiaries of your offering are
  • Showing an appreciation of the need to work collaboratively with your prospect and their wider organization.


What type of campaign is this suitable for: Any campaign where you are reaching out to larger companies with multiple decision-makers.


What data is needed for this personalization: You will need to find the name of a relevant decision-maker depending on what your offering is. You can find this on Linkedin.


Example of this personalization: “If this piques your curiosity at all I’d love to book a 5-minute phone call with you and {{relevant person’s name}} who might also like to hear what I have to say.”


3. The “Practice What You Preach” Personalization


This personalization involves finding a quote that your target has put out, either on social media, in an interview, or at a conference, and making a connection between the sentiment of this quote and your offering.


Although it is a difficult personalization to scale, as it involves both scouring your prospect’s online footprint, and finding relevant quotes, it is incredibly powerful when done correctly as it taps into people’s psychological need to avoid appearing inconsistent.


Given the difficulty of this personalization to scale, it is probably worth only attempting to gather the necessary data when you are reaching out to prospects who you know put out a lot of content. 


Prospects who are thought leaders or regular speakers at events may well be worth trying this approach with. Given that these people are often in-demand, going the extra mile with personalization may be the only way to make a connection with them.


What type of campaign is this suitable for: Campaigns where you are trying to connect with industry thought leaders.


What data is needed for this personalization: You need to find something your prospect has said, the source where they have said it, and a way that it ties into your product. This will most likely be taken from their social media accounts or interviews with them that have been published online.


Example of this personalization: “I saw that in your {{where you saw it}} you said {{what they said}}, we agree which is why {{how this links with your offering}}”


4. The Book Recommendation


Outreach emails should always try to give value to your prospect – ideally through offering an inexpensive solution to a problem they are facing.


If you have built an outreach list around the identification of a specific problem,  you can offer these prospects a recommendation of a book that can help them to solve the problem that you have identified.


This both gives your prospect a cheap and easy to implement solution (or the start of a solution) to their problem, and can create a personal connection between you and the prospect.


If the prospect does buy the book, finds it useful, but still wants more help, you will be top of their mind.


Always make sure that when you give out such a recommendation, you have read the book yourself so you are certain of both the book’s quality and its relevance to your prospect’s identified problem.


What type of campaign is this suitable for: Any campaign where you have built an email list around targets that you have identified as indicating that they have a specific need or problem.


What data is needed for this personalization: An identified problem, a signifier of this problem, and a book that offers insight on how to solve this problem.


Example of this personalization: The fact that {{signifier of the problem}} suggests to me that you might need help with {{what their problem is}}. May I recommend {{book}}, it’s a really nice introduction to {{what their problem is}} and contains a lot of step-by-step implementations.


5. The “Local Hero” Recommendation


Your prospects want to see that you are genuinely interested in helping them, rather than just wanting to sell your service to them.


One way of demonstrating your helpful intentions is by recommending alternatives to your service.


As people like to “buy local” and support smaller businesses, a bigger agency can build trust and rapport with a prospect by recommending a local freelancer who offers a similar service as an alternative to your offering.


It may seem counterintuitive to endorse your competitors, but remember that your offering will never be appropriate for every company on your list.


Some companies may only have the budget for a freelancer, others may want something slightly different for what you can provide. 


For these companies, offering viable alternatives to your service can help build a relationship with a semi-qualified prospect, and if their circumstances change in a way that they need your service, the relationship is already established.


What type of campaign is this suitable for: A sales email campaign where you are offering a service that is performed by agencies and freelancers (content writing for example).


What data is needed for this personalization: Segment your prospects by their location, and for each location find a couple of reputable freelancers who offer a similar service to your own. Ideally, these will be people you have worked with, or know somebody who has worked with them, in the past.


Example of the personalization: If this is out of budget for you, I may recommend a couple of freelancers who offer this service in {{prospect’s location}}. These are {{freelancer one}} and {freelancer 2}}, I have worked with them both and they can each do an excellent job.


Wrapping Up


Success with cold email is all about staying one step ahead of your competitors.


Competitive advantages are there to be won at every step of the email outreach process, from sending and responding to emails as efficiently as possible, to the originality and uniqueness of your email copy and personalizations.


The less replicable your personalizations by others, the more powerful they will be, and the greater they will stand the test of time.


With your personalizations, you should always be demonstrating why you have chosen to outreach to a target, and how you can help them. 

So long as these two criteria are fulfilled, the more creative you are, the better.

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