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March 19, 2018

It’s Time to Get Personal: How Using Declared Data Can Rescue Your Email Personalization Strategy

A staggering 120.4 billion marketing emails are sent every day. How will you cut through the noise?

Maud Rodamar

A staggering 120.4 billion marketing emails are sent every day, but how many are even opened, let alone read or clicked? Cutting through the noise can feel impossible when you look at numbers like this.

How can you increase those open, click, and conversion rates with your email marketing? Personalization. But effective email personalization requires truly knowing your customer. Not just segmentation or remarketing based on past purchases, but truly knowing their intentions, motivations, and more. In this post, I’ll go over how you can use declared data directly from your audience drive engagement and create repeat customers..

With limited touchpoints each week with shoppers, you have to make each one count, and email personalization is how you can do that. An Experian study found that not only are emails with personalized subject lines 26% more likely to be opened, but they also have 41% higher click rates. There’s more: personalized, trigger email campaigns result in more than double the transaction rates of non-personalized trigger emails.

What’s Holding You Back?

It’s no surprise to any marketer that personalized emails perform better, but the challenge we face is getting the data needed to truly personalize each of those touchpoints. Most brands rely on the data already in customer relationship management (CRM) platforms. That data is information like email, mailing address, credit card, past purchases, and cart abandonment. But relying solely on this data, you’re limited in how you can personalize your email content and offers.

While knowing what someone purchased (or almost purchased) shines some light on who your shoppers are, it doesn’t provide the “why behind the buy.” Meaning, it’s still unknown what they’re truly shopping for, who they’re shopping for, and if they’re actually looking to make a purchase or just browsing for inspiration.

Some marketers attempt to solve this by appending their CRM with third-party data. However, third-party data is limited to things like behavioral and demographic information that are frequently inaccurate, outdated, and irrelevant. In fact, 82% of marketers don’t believe that third-party data is reliable, largely due to inaccuracies.

You can’t personalize effectively if you don’t have the right data on your audience. Without clear insights into the audience that you’re engaging, you can end up emailing the wrong audience, or even worse, reaching out to the right consumers at an inopportune time.

True Data-Driven Personalization

You might think you have a handle on email segmentation or personalization, but when the segments are based on purchases that happened five years ago, one-off gifts, or returned items, it’s no mystery why you aren’t seeing the results you wanted.

Think about all the purchases you’ve made in the past few months. Routine purchases, splurges, holiday and birthday gifts, and more. That’s the data you have as a marketer, too. You know what the purchase was and how much it cost. Let’s say you just bought your father a set of golf clubs, yet you’ve never golfed a day in your life. You’ll likely be added into a segment of male golfers based on that purchase you made for someone else, and next thing you know you’re receiving weekly golf deals in your inbox.

To truly personalize emails, you need to know exactly why your customers are buying something, when they’re going to buy it, who they’re buying it for, and more. Unless you’re a mind reader, what steps can you take to uncover that information?.

That’s the power of declared data. Declared data gives you insight into your consumers’ intentions, motivations, preferences and interests. The best part? There’s no middleman. You heard that right. Real time, accurate, and relevant data, given to you directly by the consumer.

Executing Declared Data-Powered Personalization

So, what does a declared data-powered personalized email even look like?

First, you decide on the declared data points that you want to capture, and depending on your business those attributes can look very different. If you’re a travel company, a piece of data that would be highly useful to your email marketing is your customers’ dream vacation destination.

Next, you create content designed to collect those desired declared data points and send a trigger email based on that data. You may find out that most of your customers want to visit European cities, national parks, beach destinations, or rustic countrysides. Personalizing your email subject line, content, and offer based on that data, rather than their previous trips, allows the experience to feel tailored from end-to-end and puts a trip your customer is in-market for at the tip of their fingers. In fact, 69% of travelers say they’re more loyal to brands that personalize their experience online and offline, and knowing someone’s dream destination allows you to do just that.

If you just traveled to Napa but you want to go to Jamaica next, the chances of you opening, clicking, and converting on an email with the subject, “Jamaica Awaits” is much higher than if it was “Napa is calling,” since you aren’t interested in going back… yet.

What Successful Email Personalization Looks Like

Regent Seven Seas Cruises

Regent Seven Seas Cruises launched an interactive, mobile “This or That” experience, where travelers could choose between various options to build the perfect Alaskan cruise. Upon completion of the experience, travelers received a personalized follow-up email with unique subject lines, copy, and offers. By using declared data to personalize emails, Regent drove 9X higher click rates and 2X higher open rates.


Boden, a British women’s apparel brand, captures declared data on style preferences through Jebbit experiences. Based on the preferences, they send personalized, shoppable emails with a discount code. This way, consumers can purchase the looks they just said that they loved in the experience. These shoppable emails drove 40% of all purchases, and 60% of the purchases occurred immediately after shoppers completed the style quiz or lookbook, with a 33% increase in cart size as well.

Visit North Carolina

Visit North Carolina sent a Jebbit experience to their database that revealed to users which type of vacation they’d most enjoy. Based on these declared data points, they were sent a personalized email. In this email they drove users into another Jebbit experience so they could learn more things to do in North Carolina based on their preferred vacation type. Visit North Carolina saw 2.5X increase in email open rates and 12.5X increase in click rates.

How to Get Started with Truly Personalized Emails

It may seem like a daunting task, but declared data-powered email personalization is much easier than it might seem. Start by deciding what the most valuable declared data points are for your audience. What do you wish you knew? It could be anything from their favorite style of dress to when they plan on traveling next or how they get the news. Once you capture the data, you can create the relevant content and offers and send your emails. It’s never been easier or more actionable than with the use of declared data.

We’ve found it’s easiest to break your declared data strategy into three simple steps:

  • Identify your attributes: What pieces of declared data would you love to have on every customer? Start with your top three, and add in new ones as they arise.
  • Create your content calendar: Plan out the content that you’re going to use to capture declared data, to ensure that you’re giving yourself opportunities to get the data you want.
  • Plan your data activation: Make sure you’ve got a strategy in place for activating your declared data in your email marketing, to begin truly personalizing your emails.

Want to see results like these? Check out our guide to email marketing with declared data to get the deep dive into declared data and see how you can get started on your email personalization journey.

Maud Rodamar

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