A Guide to Personalization in Your Emails & Moving Leads Down Funnel

A Guide to Personalization in Your Emails & Moving Leads Down Funnel

Regardless of your industry, you probably send emails. Depending on how many leads you work with, it could be a lot of emails.

Sending these digital notes has become a huge benefit to the sales community, but it’s also getting harder and harder to get a response. The data suggests that the more personalized your emails are, the better reps fair in terms of getting attention.

Basic Sales Funnel for Cold EmailIn a very broad view of a sales funnel you have three basic tiers (illustrated by the image).

There is “Awareness” which is when the prospects either don’t know about you or are starting to figure your brand out. “Consideration” is where they are doing their research and “Conversion” where they are either won or lost.

But, how personal do you get at every level?

It’s impossible to send hundreds of custom, fully “handwritten” notes each and every day to reach out to new prospects. It’s also impractical to send a stock email to someone at the end of the buying cycle.

This post is going to breakdown the subject of personalization into a guide that will hopefully help you in figuring out just how deep to to go. There are three general degrees of personalization and we’ll mention them all quickly, but we’ll focus on tactics for personalizing cold emails specifically for sales enablement folks.

1st Degree: Fully-Generic

Exactly like it sounds, this is an email with copy that is not specific in any way towards anyone. No first name, company name, or basic data at all. Typically, you’ll see these in retail businesses. Think of a restaurant that sends a coupon for 15% off on Tuesdays.

Note: There are very few (if any instances) where fully-generic emails work for sales reps—even during the prospecting and top-of-funnel phase.

3rd Degree: Fully-Customized

Opposite of generic. Every word of each email is written with a specific individual or brand in mind. These emails are typically sent on a few occasions including:

  • Current customers to increase their happiness and extract data to better your sales process.
  • Leads that are farther down funnel and close to making a decision.
  • Follow-up on referrals that you receive from current customers (to make an impression).

2nd Degree: Mass-Customized

Apologies to those who don’t like disorder, but the 2nd degree is where we are going to be spending the majority of our time. A mass-customized email has the most complicated definition as it varies over the course of leads moving down funnel.

Since “fully-generic” emails are out of contention, a form of mass-customized communication is your first line of introduction to prospects. Plus, depending on how many brands/leads you have in your funnel; fully-customized emails may not make sense except for certain leads toward the end of your funnel.

As a result, mass-customized emails become a large chunk of your entire outreach process.

Note: There are always exceptions to any process. If you’re selling a super high dollar product in a limited field of potential buyers, your emails will likely be completely custom (if you use email at all).

Counting the Costs

Using specific tactics outlined in this post should help get you more responses, but you’ll want to evaluate all of your email processes regularly.

Taking a look at how much time you’re spending on outreach emails versus the results you’re getting will help you tweak things over time.

Evaluation MatrixGive it a quick evaluation with a matrix similar to the one in we’ve provided based on an “effectiveness” and “effort” scale to see how things are moving along.

Regardless of how many leads you have, some form of personalization needs to be used. Throwing in the first name of your prospects takes the least amount of time/effort, but is also the least effective. In order to get a high response rate (and in turn a potentially better close rate), it will take more “legwork” upfront.

Before the First Contact

The work in personalizing your emails should begin before you have names is your customer relationship software. In fact, all cold emails should start with your buyer personas.

Traits about your ideal buyers and prospects are going to help you throughout your entire sales cycle including:

  • List building/buying: If you have the qualities your buyers typically share, it narrows down the right people, roles, and even businesses to talk to in the first place.
  • Email personalization: These traits can also reveal potential content needs of your ideal buyers which could help you warm up leads faster.
  • Higher conversions: If your leads are higher quality, you’ll have a higher number of closes with fewer overall prospects.

Key Takeaway: Use your buyer personas/ideal prospect personas to determine who to email before you start.

Specific Tactics for Cold Contacting

Ok, you’ve got a list of high potential contacts and are ready to find the right person and start having meaningful conversations. Let’s get into some personalization tactics.

FTRP Email

Using a find-the-right-person (FTRP) email can be a highly effective way of getting a great response rate. The average company sells to an average of 5.4 personas. Sometimes, this means that the Director of ABC is in charge of buying at one brand, but the Chief XYZ is the decision maker at another.

Sending an email to the three most likely decision makers will usually result in a response to help you either:

  • Find said person
  • Qualify the lead
  • Or even disqualify them and move on

See the example email:

Subject: Are you the right person to speak with?

Hello, {first name}

I’m looking for the person who handles the (your product/industry) decisions. Could you point me in the right direction?


Your Name

The only personalization needed is the name/position of each of the three potential decision makers.

Getting a Meeting/Call Email

Here’s where you need to evaluate how much effort you put in and how good/effective of a response you receive. Since it’s more of a sliding scale instead of an exact science, we’ll discuss two common personalization tactics. One is a less-effort option and the other requires considerably more.

You can adapt to your needs accordingly.

Firmographic and Demographic Personalization

Moving past the first name of your prospect doesn’t have to be difficult. If you start with your personas, you will be able to insert content and talking points that are general enough to appeal to all while making them feel like it’s a personal conversation.

There aren’t any specific tactics and you’ll have to be creative, but here are the kinds of data you can look to use.

  • Firmographics: Industry-specific tips/resources to break the ice, company size (especially if you have HR/management specific products), specific goals of companies this size (e.g. are they trying to grow through sales or acquisitions).
  • Demographics: Now we’re talking about those 3-5 people who are involved in the buying decision (either directly or indirectly). Speak to their goals, pains, and biggest desires to break the ice.

Deeper Persona Data and Further Research

If your prospect list is fairly short and you can’t afford a low response rate, it could do you some good to blend the lines between mass-customized and fully-customized.

To Be Clear: There is a lot of effort involved, and it doesn’t make sense if you are sending hundreds of emails every week along with your other responsibilities.

There is a great post with a suggestion to spend three minutes and find three key takeaways for each prospect your cold emailing. Look at LinkedIn profiles to find loose or close connections. Their city/town, education, people they follow/know and several other things. Anything that will make the lead listen and respond.

Spending a few minutes researching per lead is 5 hours of work for every 100 leads. If you’re thinking “no way”, then don’t do it. However, if that’s not a slap-in-the-face commitment, give it a shot and look at the results of your effort.

Now, it’s time to act. Look at those buyer personas, the better you know your prospects; the more they’ll respond to your outreach attempts.