How do I personalize a campaign?

Personalization is a great way to engage with your subscribers. You can personalize the subject line and content of your email by inserting personalization tags based on subscriber field data. When your email is sent we dynamically change the tags to display information relevant to each recipient.

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Introduction to personalization tags

All personalization tags are based on subscriber field data, which is information about your email recipients that is recorded with your subscriber list. Every subscriber list you create starts with two default fields — “Name” and “Email address” — but you can add up to 50 more custom fields.

Personalization tags only work well if you have the corresponding data for recipients. For example, you can be sure the “email” personalization tag will work because, if the person is on your subscriber list, their email address is recorded as the value for the default "Email address" field.

The personalization tag for the email address field is: [email]

To use the “name” personalization tag, you’ll want to make sure you’ve collected the names of people on your mailing list, either through a subscribe form or by importing the data from your customer database.

TIP: You can use fallback terms to substitute for any subscriber data that may not be recorded for some recipients.

While an email address is required when signing up to a campaign, providing a name is optional unless you set the “Name” field to “required” when creating a subscribe form for your list.

Personalization with custom fields

When creating a custom field, its name is used to automatically create a personalization tag. For example, in the image below we’ve added a "Date of birth" custom field, which generates[Dateofbirth,fallback=] as the tag:

Variations of the name tag

In the screenshot pictured above you’ll notice there are three variations of personalization tag for the “Name” field. If you have a full name for each subscriber, this is how the tags work:

  • [fullname,fallback=] — This tag will be replaced by the subscriber's full name.
  • [firstname,fallback=] — This tag will be replaced by the subscriber's first name, which is everything up to the first space.
  • [lastname,fallback=] — This tag will be replaced by the subscriber's last name, which is everything after the first space.

So if your subscriber "Name" field contains "Sally Sparrow," this is what Sally will see:

  • Hello [fullname,fallback=] — Hello Sally Sparrow
  • Hello [firstname,fallback=] — Hello Sally
  • Hello [lastname,fallback=] — Hello Sparrow

Note: For subscriber names that are not as straightforward — for example, someone with two first names — you can create custom fields for first and last names.

Inserting personalization tags

When setting up a new email you can click Insert personalization in the subject line field, as shown here:

The three "name" variations in the dropdown menu are the options explained above. You can also manually insert a personalization tag based on any custom field created for the list your email is being sent to.

When using our email builder you can insert personalization tags into your email content by clicking Insert on the toolbar:

Click Insert > Personalization to insert a default field: name (one of three variations) or email. If your list has custom fields, click Insert > Custom fields, and then select the list that the email is being sent to, followed by the custom field you want to use for personalization.

Fallback terms

By default, automatically generated personalization tags include the text "fallback," followed by an equals sign. A fallback term is a word, or words, that will be substituted in if you don't have the relevant data. It can be any plain text word or phrase.

You don't have to supply a fallback term. If you can’t think of a decent substitute just leave the tag as is, with nothing following the equals sign: [firstname,fallback=]

Or you can remove the ,fallback= text completely and just use [firstname].

NOTE: Be aware that the fallback terms you use may have unintended effects on your sentence structure. It's always a good idea to test your emails before sending.

How personalization tags work

When your email is sent we dynamically change the tags to display information relevant to each recipient. For example, a clothing retailer could use a “first name” personalization tag with the fallback term “fashionista.”

When the email is received by a subscriber named Jane she would see her name in place of the personalization tag:

If you only have Jane’s email address on record and not her name, she would instead see the fallback term "fashionista," as shown here:

Tips for using email personalization

You can do some great things with personalization to make your emails much more meaningful for subscribers, but it can take a bit of trial and error to get it right.

Test your fallback terms

Before sending your email, test your fallback terms — especially if you're using them mid-sentence. You don't want subscribers receiving emails that don't make sense because of missing words, or that look unprofessional because they contain poor grammar caused by a fallback term.

The problem with no fallback terms

If you don't supply a fallback term and there's no data to show from a personalization tag, a space will be inserted. This can create unintended sentence structure issues. For example:

Hey [firstname,fallback=], check out our VIP offer!

If there's no recipient name and no fallback term, the sentence above will look like this:

Hey , check out our VIP offer!

Another example:

Come to our store opening, [firstname,fallback=]!

No recipient name and no fallback term will result in this:

Come to our store opening, !

There are two ways you can solve this:

Solution #1 — Thoughtful fallbacks

These are not always easy to get right, but they're worth the time. For example, to solve the first punctuation problem referenced above, you could use something like:

[firstname,fallback=Hey], check out our VIP offer!

If we have a name recorded for our subscriber, Jane, she would see:

Jane, check out our VIP offer!

If there’s no name on record, Jane would see:

Hey, check out our VIP offer!

Solution #2 — Dynamic content tags

While more complex, using dynamic content tags allows for greater customization. Unlike personalization tags, dynamic content tags will not work in the subject field, only in the email itself.

For example, we could nest a personalization tag inside a dynamic content IF tag, like so:

[if:firstname]Hey [firstname], c[else]C[endif]heck out or VIP offer![endif]

The section highlighted above will only appear if we have the first name for our subscriber, Jane. When she receives her email, she'll see:

Hey Jane, check out our VIP offer!

If we don't have her first name, Jane would see:

Check out our VIP offer!

Note how we've taken into account the capitalization of the letter "C" as well using the [else] condition.

Personalization and the web version of your campaign

When you view the web version of your campaign from a test email, you will see a generic version that uses fallback terms rather than subscriber-specific data. However, when you send the campaign, each subscriber will see their own customized web version with their personalizations applied.

NOTE: The generic web version with fallback terms is also what you'll see if you use the "Share Campaign" button on your campaign reports.