How Does Personalization Affect Cold Email Deliverability?

by Cathy Dawiskiba

June 1, 2017

I’ve already written a few pieces on personalization in cold email. I’ve given numerous reasons why personalization is a must. Yet, here’s another one: deliverability of your cold email campaigns. This is something you can’t just ignore or omit, because if you do your emails will simply stop being sent. Here’s more about the link between personalization and deliverability. Check how it works and how to personalize your cold email campaigns to make sure your emails get sent and delivered.

What do I mean by “personalization”?

If you are able to send the very same message to hundreds and thousands of addressees, it means the message lacks personalization. A cold email template for personalized outreach will use some custom fields to incorporate pieces of information unique for each recipient.

Most often, the custom fields will include some basic information like the recipient’s first name, their company name, their website address, the industry they operate in, or the city they come from. That’s a good first step. But nowadays, it’s often not enough.

If you think of a highly personalized campaign that’ll bring you really satisfying results, you need to work on some custom fields including more sophisticated references to your prospect’s previous work, clients, projects, marketing activities, etc. You can use personalization snippets as long as full sentences or even paragraphs.

Check out those posts to find some ideas on how to personalize your cold emails:

So when I say “personalization” talking about cold emails, I mean making each of the messages tailor-made for each prospect. This is possible to achieve, even if you send your emails and follow-ups to numerous prospects. The level of personalization: basic, or more advanced, will significantly affect the effectiveness of your cold email campaign and its deliverability rate.

If you put some effort into preparing more advanced snippets than just the basic information like the first name, the company name, and so on, you will probably observe higher reply rates. The point is to show your prospect that you care about them to the extent that made you carry out some research before you reached out to them.

Here’s how to prepare your prospect base for a highly-personalized email campaign:

Personalization is a way to show your prospects that you really want to talk to them. And if you make it really relevant, which is what you should aim at, it’s also a way to give the recipients a good reason to reply to you.

Why personalization matters in terms of deliverability?

In short: because a non-personalized email sent to a large group of recipients is just an inch away from SPAM.

Actually, your email provider cannot verify if you selected your prospect group carefully enough to make the non-personalized message relevant to them. So just in case you didn’t, they will classify it as potential SPAM. And that’s how you put the “spammer” label on your back. That’s why you get blocked from sending, your messages get blocked from being delivered, and your email server IP gets on a blacklist.

How to avoid that wretched scenario?

  • Add some personalization snippets to your email templates
  • Split your prospect base to a few smaller batches and customize the copy for each batch
  • Ideally, combine the two above

This way, you won’t be sending identical messages to a large group of prospects. Your messages will vary, which will allow you to keep away from anti-spam filters. It will also make the messages more relevant to your prospects, which will make them open the emails, read them, and reply.

How to personalize cold email campaigns for high deliverability?

As I mentioned before, the higher the personalization level, the better for you.

Basic personalization

If you add just the first name, company name, industry, etc. you go for the basic personalization option, which is better than no personalization at all, but it may be not enough. That depends also on your prospect group and the purpose of your email.

Advanced personalization

If you enrich your prospect base with some research results and perfectly planned spots for the found pieces of information in your email copy, you may see some spectacular results. Try to add to your email some specific references unique for each prospect.

You can refer to their latest blog post, one of their latest tweets, a specific part of their company website, a relevant piece of info on their LinkedIn profile, and so on. The trick is to show them that you took the time to check who they are, and that you found something that actually triggered you to write to them.

Examples

To give you a very quick example, let’s say you send a cold email to a blog owner to get your article published on their blog as a guest post.

Zero personalization

You could send a totally impersonal message like this one (please don’t do that):

Basic personalization

Here’s the same message with some basic personalization:

The version above uses just two custom fields, the first name and the blog name. This is not very much, but it’s better than no personalization at all.

Advanced personalization

Check out the more advanced personalization example below:

I’d say such a message using some specific references and offering an idea connected to the actual work of the recipient is much more compelling than a generic guest post offer. The message proves that the sender is actually interested in writing a guest post for this particular blog for a reason.

Two reasons why the third version would work best

First of all, the third version doesn’t scream “I sent this to you and 49 other bloggers and I’ll just see how this will work”. It says “I sent it to you because I specifically chose your blog as the place I want to be a part of, and you as a person I want to partner with. You are special to me.”

But this is just why people will like it. There’s also the reason why anti-spam bots will like the last version of the message the most. Take another look at the message. Note what part of it is actually an email template, and what part is the personalized text of the snippets (I marked them with green for you to easily assess).

Your email provider may block you if you try to send 50 identical messages. But thanks to the snippets, your messages won’t be identical. Each of them will be unique. And they will feel more genuine and legit to both, people and bots.

What’s in it for you?

In fact, the construction of the personalized email I used as an example here involves adding just three snippets other than the first name and the name of the blog:

  • Snippet #1: what was their blog post about;
  • Snippet #2: what I especially liked about the post;
  • Snippet #3: what kind of a guest post I could write for them.

It’s not very difficult. Sending such a campaign could be easily automated with Woodpecker.

It will obviously take some time to do some pre-campaign research, but it will definitely pay off when you see the replies coming.

Don’t try to take shortcuts

Cold emailing is not about sending generic leaflets to thousands of people. It’s about sending carefully prepared messages to a bunch of well-targeted prospects. I know it may feel counter-intuitive, but believe me when I say that personalization is a necessary ingredient of a successful cold email campaign.

Hope I managed to convince you that personalized cold emails have greater chances to be delivered, opened, and replied to.

We also have an interesting interview on prospect research & personalization coming soon. Stay tuned.

Cathy Dawiskiba

Chief Growth Officer at Woodpecker.co

Cathy started this blog a long time ago, though it seems like it was yesterday.

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