Email Personalisation Without The Backend

Personalisation may be yet another buzzword for the marketing phrasebook, and although it’s nothing new, I would like to share a few methods of personalising your communications without initially knowing anything about your users.

When we think about email personalisation, we often want to know how a user engages with our product. Did the user recently make a friend request? Like an image? Swipe right? Maybe they updated their favourite music genre or watched a thriller movie? Having answers to questions we have about our users can result in high quality targeted communications that result in engagement.

Sadly, it’s not that easy. Being able to track & store in-product engagement events typically requires technical implementations that might be costly, time consuming, and sometimes even considered less important.

So, as a marketer, how can you begin to personalise your emails based on your users’ interests without knowing anything about their engagement with your product?

The answer is click engagement.

Really? I read this far to learn about clicks?


Hear me out. It’s fairly common to segment users based on their engagement with emails. Engagement is often based on opens or clicks. If a user clicked on your most recent email, they are engaged – great! If you’re looking to learn more about your user, you can analyse what they clicked on and create segments based on this.

This method won’t help you to create really specific personalised emails, but it’s a quick and easy way to begin personalising without any crazy implementations.

The idea is simple:

  • Send all users Email 1 which contains Image A and Image B.
  • If the user clicks on Image A, send them Email 2.
  • If the user clicks on Image B, send them Email 3.
Illustrated woman drawing personalised email cycle example.

Email Personalisation Examples

Case Study 1 – E-Commerce Fashion Store

OpenR8 is a streetwear brand for both men and women. They operate an e-commerce store and due to a slow Q1 they’re looking to improve the conversion rates of their emails to generate more revenue in preparation for Q3. While OpenR8’s emails are in good standing, one of the biggest complaints from prospective customers is that genders are not personalised in their emails. The OpenR8 team are unable to modify the website to add a field to the email opt-in form and must determine a user’s gender solely within the emails. What can they do?

Here’s one solution: using the method described above, OpenR8 can add an image in their initial email which links to their male products, and another which links to their female products. A cycle can then be made based on which image a user clicks in this email.

E-commerce fashion store email with basic email personalisation.
Example of OpenR8 email.

The following emails in OpenR8’s cycle should be based on what the user clicked in the email.

  1. When a user clicks the “for him” image, they enter into a cycle which features male clothing products.
  2. When a user clicks the “for her” image, they enter into a cycle which features female clothing products.
  3. If a user clicks the “to the store” button, they enter into a generic cycle.
  4. If a user clicks nothing they also enter into a generic cycle.

Case Study 2 – Music App

ClickDisc is a music app that lets users stream music both old and new. ClickDisc wants to help users discover new music through personalised emails, but don’t know enough about their app engagement to know which genres to include in the emails.

Here’s an email-based solution: ClickDisc create four playlists within their app. The first playlist contains current chart songs, the second relaxing music, the third electronic music, and finally, the fourth contains classical. They then create an email which contains individual links to each playlist.

Music App email example with click-based email personalisation.
Example of ClickDisc email.

Based on how a user engages with the above email, ClickDisc will have a better understanding of which music their customers like.

ClickDisc can use this information to send further emails or product announcements to customers. For example, “Check out these latest electronic releases” to those who click Electronic, or “Coffehouse Jazz to increase your focus” for those who click Coffehouse Relax. The list of possibilities becomes endless.

And that wraps this article up. Creating segments based on clicks can be helpful when creating basic personalised emails. Advanced personalisation will require some technical support.

Click-based segments are also great ways to test new features through email, and can be helpful when creating email-based questionnaires, surveys, quizzes, or retargeting campaigns.

I hope you found this helpful. If you’re interested in sharing your own email personalisation concepts and ideas or have suggestions related to this article, be sure to tweet @Campaign_Name.