‘Dating Your Data’: 11 Steps You Can Take To Personalise Your Emails For More Engagement

Are you having trouble finding a perfect match when it comes to customers converting from lead data?

Email marketing can be one of the most effective ways to reach new leads already showing interest in your business, particularly if they’ve provided their details through a previous purchase or signed up to your mailing list.

However, it can be difficult to create actual conversions from email, for various reasons, not least the judgement that often comes with email marketing, given it’s a popular tool used by many businesses, often very poorly.

So how can you create more engagement with your leads via email marketing?

Answer: by dating your data.

Now, I don’t mean this literally (we wouldn’t want any inappropriate relationships between seller and buyer) but instead, think of the lead you are trying to engage with as a first date.

So let’s talk through 11 steps you can take to help find that perfect match for conversion.

1) Research If They Are A Good Match For You

Great personalisation grows from great research.

After all, how do you expect to connect with your customers if you know nothing about them?

If you were looking for a date, you wouldn’t just pick anyone off the street because they were right in front of you… would you?

Unless you were disturbingly desperate, you wouldn’t. And you should treat your lead data the same way.

You need to work out how many of this list have qualities that you’re looking for in an ideal customer.

Consider where the data came from and what qualities they have that make them the perfect target for your business.

Don’t forget to think long-term too – Focus your efforts on customers that could become potential lifetime buyers that will return for repurchasing.

As you research, you will find that although they seem to be a good fit for your business, they all have individual needs and will want different things from you.

Therefore it is important to….

2) Ask Yourself: Are You A Good Match For Them?

Unrequited love can be tough, especially when you’re the one who has hopelessly fallen.

You can’t have a successful relationship if both parties aren’t mutually enjoying themselves.

So, if you’ve found some good lead data that you want to reach out to, you need to make sure that they’ll be just as interested in you.

You can do this by segmenting the data into different categories based on their needs or other demographic factors.

Segmenting audiences allows you to break down the data into manageable pools based on personal characteristics.

For example, if you owned a cosmetics shop and you had a large pool of lead data from your mailing list, you could begin generally separating them by gender and age for targeted products such as anti-ageing creams for older leads.

This is quite a general example, but the more specific you are at segmenting your data, the more likely you are to match their interests, and speak to them on a more personal level, rather than sending out the same general email to everyone and hoping someone will answer.

If you’d like to know more about audience segmentation and automation, we break down buyer personas in our free marketing planners toolkit.

Segmenting your lead data will also help inform you on the next two steps in the dating process too.

3) Decide On The Right Place To Meet

A great location can really set the mood for a great connection.

Plus, some places offer different activities and ways to engage with the person you meet there.

In terms of reaching leads, it’s important to make sure you choose a platform they use regularly, and are comfortable with.

So before sending, it’s important to ask: is email really the best way to reach this person?

Even though email remains one of the most popular and effective communication channels, the pace of change in internet technology means it’s far from the only choice.

There is no denying social media has taken the world by storm, so why not use it to your advantage.

It’s increasingly common for brands to reach out to potential leads (and customers) through social media messaging, if that’s a channel their audience uses.

For example for B2B businesses, LinkedIn messaging can be an effective way to contact leads, and having a rich profile they can look at is a great way to sell yourself, encouraging them to message you back.

And in some situations, automated tools can make it even easier to send out messages to a large lead list and manage the responses.

Text/SMS messaging can also be a great way to reach out to customers. Used with care, text notifications are more prominent than emails and can be very effective.

Of course, some of these methods may not be the best fit for your business, depending on who your audience is and what you’re selling, but it is definitely something you should stop to consider.

4) Make Sure The Timing Is Right

Depending on what you’re looking for in a relationship, you want different things at different times.

But if you’re really looking to settle down, you need to find a date that is in the right place in their life for the relationship at the time you’re looking for it.

Good timing with emails isn’t just about the date or time you send it, although that is an important place to start. For example if you’re targeting business people with work emails, contacting them within office hours might work best. And emailing someone’s personal account may be most effective outside of office hours, when they’re not at work.

Automation can be key to doing this right. Automated email software such as ActiveCampaign or Mailchimp can help you draft and schedule emails to be sent out automatically at any time you want to send when your lead is most likely to see it.

If you want to get really personal, some platforms give you the option of using machine learning algorithms to send each email to its intended recipient at the time best suited just to that individual.

But more importantly, even if you send the email at the right time of day and they see it, nobody is going to convert if they are not in the right place in their life to want or need your product or service.

It can be difficult to make assumptions about people based on a few data facts about them, but it’s still an important factor to consider when reaching out to new leads. Little indicators such as their position within a company or if they’re currently employed can be a good place to start.

5) Include The First Name

Have you ever been on a date where they keep forgetting your name?

It’s awkward and horribly embarrassing, and can put your date on edge working how much you actually care about them.

It’s exactly the same with email marketing; it all starts with a name when it comes to making a personal connection between business and buyer.

Just using their first name could be important as well. Imagine if your date referred to you with your full name, or as ‘date’ which is the equivalent of ‘hello customer’ or skipped the formalities completely and dived straight into what they want out of the date from you.

All of these seem laughably inappropriate in this situation, so why do it in an email?

However, take this advice with caution.

Including the first name of your lead is only the first step in personalising your email content for your audience.

It may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised at how many people either do not include their lead’s first name at all, or feel that simply including a first name is enough to convince a customer that the email has been personalised for them.

If you have a lead’s email address but not a first name, you might need to suck it up and bin them off.

It can be hard to let go of leads, especially if you’ve spent a while cultivating the data, but chances are if they haven’t volunteered their name for your mailing list, they’re not particularly invested in receiving your emails anyway.

Plus, having names makes for a better quality mailing list overall.

On the other hand, for personalisation that actually gets results, you need to do much more than this to create a match made in heaven.

6) Let Them Know Who You Are


Now you know who your date is, isn’t it about time you introduced yourself?

Typically on a first date, you would open with your name and maybe a little about yourself as the conversation gets going.

But with email being more impersonal by nature, we have to do things a bit differently.

We want to keep the opening line of the email free for the hook of the email, but we still need to let the lead know who we are to put them at ease.

And we can do this with the sender name and email footer.

Of course, different businesses have different needs, so it’s important to think about what suits you best.

Depending on the nature of the email as well, it may be best to use your company name in the address line, particularly if you’re sending it to a customer that already has a relationship with the brand and recognises it positively.

However, if you’re reaching out to new leads, have a smaller business or one that is offering services over products, using your real name instead of the business name can be a great way to get a lead’s attention.

Imagine if you showed up to your first date wearing a mask. Chances are your date would find you pretty hard to talk to and not want to see you again.

Using your real name in the sender details not only shows honesty and friendliness to your lead, but also takes away the corporate and indirect feel of the email. Your lead can see that they’re receiving a message from a real person, which is harder to ignore than a faceless corporation.

That’s inherent to human nature.

Bonus tip: include a photo of yourself in the footer of the email to further the connection by putting a face to a name; people are more likely to remember you that way.

A good example would look like this *cough cough*:

People naturally want to listen and interact with others, so allow your leads to do that by letting them know exactly who you are.

Once they’ve seen you, it’s time to…

7) Make A Great First Impression

First impressions are everything.

We’ve all heard it takes 7 seconds for someone to determine who you are, and with email I’d argue it’s considerably less.

It’s all in the subject line and the pre-header.

Your lead will be glancing over their inbox and make a split-second decision about whether your email is even worth opening.

Think of it like speed dating: you want to spend what little time you have to make a lasting impression that speaks to what they’re looking for.

Ask yourself, “How do I get this person to see me as interesting enough to pursue?”

By speaking to their needs and interests.

This can be established right away with a good opener. You can go about this in many different ways, but these are the top 3 techniques we recommend using for great openers:

  • Asking Them A Question

One of the most effective ways to open an email, as it directly addresses and asks something of your lead. It encourages them to think about the answer after they’ve clicked off the email to keep you in their mind. This technique can be a great incentive to open the email if you’ve done your research right. You should be able to frame your question around a problem they have that you can answer with your product or service.

For example, if you wanted to send an email promoting a chocolate bar, reframe it in a question like “have you treated your tastebuds today?”

This opening works best when promoting your business, particularly to new customers where curiosity can be a strong motivator to get them to follow your call to action.

  • Making A Statement Relevant To Their Previous Activity With You

This step is only possible if you have acquired your lead data from your own website, such as a mailing list or sign ups for a lead magnet.

But if your leads have previous experience or activity with your business, use it to your advantage.

Relating the reason for your email to a previous experience the lead has already had with you will encourage them to remember why they were interested in you in the first place, making them more likely to see what you have to say.

  • Summarising What The Email Is About In One Sentence

Let me take you back to basic English lessons for a minute (oh no…)

You were always taught that to create a good piece of writing, you need to ‘hook’ the reader in to get them to read the rest of your text.

So, if you can hook the reader in one sentence, it’s perfect for email as it will show up in the preview before the lead has even opened it. This technique also helps provide context for the email and helps them decide instantly if they’re interested in reading more without wasting their time.

8) Keep Them Engaged With Relevant Content

Conversation on a date is about balance; you don’t want to let them do all the talking, but you don’t want to overshare or dominate the whole conversation either.

The conversation should centre around what appeals to both of you and what you can do to fulfil their needs in a relationship to encourage that person to spend more time with you.

It’s exactly the same with emails.

Creating relevant content comes back to knowing and segmenting your audience that we discussed in steps 1 and 2.

Based on what you know about them, what can you talk about in your email that will interest them the most?

So when writing your email’s content, instead of thinking about what you want to get out of the customer, really think about why they would want to listen and invest in your business, based on their interests and needs.

Remember: WIIFM – The lead will always ask, ‘What’s In It For Me?

This is at the heart of great personalisation. If you really know who your customer is and what they need from the relationship, there is a significantly higher chance of a sale and success.

9) Have A Strong Call To Action (CTA)

Let them know what you want them to do so they know you’re not wasting their time.

Of course, you don’t want to be pushy or open with it straight away, but emphasising what you want your lead to do at the end of the email is an important step that’s not to be missed.

This is where external links lend themselves well in email, since they naturally stand out against regular email text through colour and underlining, but if you’re feeling fancy there are many different ways to emphasise your call to action (CTA) with custom HTML, to make your email stand out.

10) Personalise Their Landing Page

If your CTA is to click through to a page on your website that requires them to fill in any details about themselves, you can personalise the page to pre-fill some of their details as they land on it.

This is achievable with automation software. Having their name pre-filled on a landing page not only shows that they are recognised and valued by your company, but also saves them time filling in your form further persuading them to convert on the desired action.

11) Keep In Touch

How many times in have you heard the phrase:

“You never called me back!”

And 9 times out of 10 the perpetrator just forgot.

Don’t forget.

If you’ve had a great connection with a lead, even if they’ve converted into a customer from your outreach, the work has only just begun.

Retaining your customers through constant communication is the key to most businesses success, not lead generation.

According to OutboundEngine:

“Acquiring a new customer can cost five times more than retaining an existing customer.”

Attentive lead nurturing is the key to consistent sales from people you already know and are interested and willing to spend money with your business. It can turn one off purchases into a lifelong relationship with a loyal customer.

But don’t take them for granted, even if they purchase from you regularly. In the future you still need to maintain a strong level of personalisation, and not be afraid to change your approach to them depending on how the customer interacts with your site.


So there you have it.

Following these 11 steps will help you get rid of your first date jitters and create a genuine connection with your leads.

Personalising every step of the process before you even begin writing the email is the most effective way to attract your lead’s attention, by offering the best way to satisfy their needs with your products.

And with different marketing automation software, a lot of these steps can be implemented without you having to lift a finger, once they’re set up.

Want to learn more about how hyper-personalisation can help your engagement and customer experience?

Check out our solution here.

Do you have an ecommerce business?

Discover 8 ways marketing automation can help yours with our previous blog.


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