When you get emails from eCommerce stores that say "Hello firstname," it's obvious they have no idea who you are. And let's be honest, generic emails are just as bad as getting junk mail in your physical mailbox.

And when it comes to the holiday season, your subscribers are bombarded with promotions left and right. So how do you make sure your emails stand out and actually get opened?

Enter email marketing automation and personalization.

By understanding your audience and their behavior, you can send targeted messages that will resonate with them. Not only will this lead to higher open rates, but it'll also result in more conversion and ultimately, higher sales for your business during the busy shopping season. In this blog, we'll give you some actionable tips and tricks to automate and personalize your marketing efforts.

So let's get optimizing, shall we?

1. Segment your email lists

By segmenting your list, you can send more relevant and personalized messages to different audience groups—it’s one of the most effective strategies for emails. Some of the most popular segments used for email marketing include: consumer types (new vs. frequent purchasers), demographics (age, gender, location), past purchases and interests.

When looking specifically at the holiday season, which includes Black Friday and Cyber Monday (BFCM), segmenting by past purchasing behavior can be particularly effective. Did they purchase during BFCM last year? Send them a targeted promotion for this year's event. Have they purchased from your holiday collection in the past? Send them new product previews or suggestions based on their previous behavior.

For example, Sephora sends targeted BFCM promotions based on past purchasing behavior, as well as additional discounts for their Beauty Insider members. This is effective because they are offering personalized deals for their customers and giving them a reason to continue being a part of their loyalty program.

2. Use dynamic content

Dynamic content allows you to customize your email content based on individual subscriber information, such as their location or past purchases. This adds a personal touch and shows that you know and understand your audience.

One way to use dynamic content is by showcasing recommended products based on past behavior. Amazon does this well with their "Recommended for You" section, which displays products that may be of interest to the customer based on their previous purchases and browsing history.

You can also use dynamic content to personalize the email greetings and subject lines. Using the subscriber's first name in the greeting or mentioning a recent purchase in the subject line can grab their attention and increase the likelihood of them opening your email.

For the holiday season, some creative ways to use dynamic content could be showcasing local events or sharing gift ideas based on past purchases (e.g. "Gift ideas for the ____ lover in your life"). Doing this can not only drive sales, but also make the email feel more personal and tailored to the individual subscriber.

3. Set up triggered emails

Triggered emails, also known as behavioral emails, are messages that are automatically sent based on subscriber actions or behaviors. These can range from abandoned cart reminders to welcome emails for new subscribers.

During the holiday season, triggered emails can be particularly useful for driving sales and conversions. Abandoned cart reminders can help encourage customers to complete their purchases, while post-purchase emails (such as order confirmation or shipping updates) can provide a good customer experience and build brand loyalty.

For example, Nordstrom sends automated post-purchase emails with information on how to track their package, as well as suggesting similar products they may be interested in based on their recent purchase. This not only helps with customer satisfaction but also encourages customers to continue shopping with Nordstrom.

To maximize the effectiveness of your triggered emails, make sure they are timely and relevant. A post-purchase email should be sent soon after the purchase is made, and it should include useful information such as order details and shipping updates. And for abandoned cart reminders, consider including a special offer or promotion to entice the customer to complete their purchase.

Using tools like Automizely Marketing can help make setting up and managing triggered emails easier. It comes ready with templates and suggestions for the most common types of automated emails sent. So take advantage of them during the busy holiday season to drive sales and provide a better customer experience.

4. A/B test your content to see what resonates best with your audience

Split testing, also known as A/B testing, allows you to test and compare different versions of your email, such as the subject line or call-to-action button, to see which performs better with your audience. This type of testing can increase performance up to 28%.

During the holiday season, split testing can be particularly helpful for finding the most successful promotional offers or subject lines. For example, if you're sending a holiday sale announcement email, you can test different subject lines to see which one results in higher open rates.

Will "Happy holidays" perform better, or will a more specific subject line like "50% off holiday sale" grab your subscribers' attention? A/B testing can provide the answer.

Split testing can also be used to test different types of content, such as a text-only email versus one with multiple images and graphics. Or you could try sending the same email on different days or times to see when your audience is most engaged.

It's important to keep in mind that split testing takes time and patience. Make sure to give each version a fair chance by sending it to a large enough sample size, and analyze the results over a significant period of time. And remember not to make too many changes at once, as this can make it difficult to determine which specific element led to the variation in performance.

So don't be afraid to try out some split testing during the holiday season (and beyond) to see what resonates best with your audience and drives the most success for your email marketing efforts.

Get started with personalization in your b2c holiday campaigns

As a busy business owner, you may not have the time or resources to send out personalized holiday campaigns to each of your subscribers ahead of the holiday rush. But that's where email automation and personalization come in handy.

By using tools and strategies like the ones listed in this article, you can make a meaningful connection with your audience at scale, and take advantage of this busy holiday season.  All you need to do is get started.

Get the most out of your email marketing efforts by using both personalization and automation strategies. Try Automizely today.