How to personalize emails in Mailchimp, Salesforce and many more

How to personalize emails in Mailchimp, Salesforce and many more

Email personalization is a great way to improve your contacts engagement and optimize your email marketing campaigns. It is also broadly used in triggered and transactional emails.

In this article we will tell you how to personalize the greeting in your email using the most popular email marketing platforms. We’ll assume you already have your list with recipients that contains their first names uploaded to your favourite email provider.

So you have followed the best practices when building your email. Now it is time to personalize it by putting a salutation. It could be for example ‘Dear John’, ‘Hi Emily’, ‘Welcome, Olivia’, and so on. For those of you who hand-code your email, here are the first name variables used by the most common email providers. You need to insert it where you want the first name to sit.

1. Mailchimp
2. SalesForce
3. HubSpot
4. Marketo
5. Campaign Monitor
6. IBM Watson
7. Sendgrid
8. Constant Contact
9. BlueShift
10. Braze
11. Mailgun

To help your work, we have created this Email Personalizer tool to quickly get the first name variable for the most popular email service providers.



In Mailchimp variables are called ‘Merge Tags’. To personalize emails further check the full list with their Merge Tags here. And here is more info about how merge tags work with Mailchimp.



SalesForce call this a Variable Tag. It is also valid for Pardot and Exact Target users since those platforms are now part of Salesforce. The full list of SalesForce Variable Tags to personalize emails can be found here.



In Hubspot the dynamic variables are called ‘personalization tokens’. Here is a list of HubSpot Personalization Tokens. For more information how to add personalization tokens to your emails, please read their blog post article.


lead.First Name

Marketo call these ‘tokens’ A full list of personal tokens is available here.

Campaign Monitor

[firstname,fallback=your content here]

In Campaign Monitor these variables are called ‘Personalization tags’. The full list can be found here. Campaign Monitor also have a very simple way to handle fallback scenarios where you do not have the name of some of your recipients.

IBM Watson 


IBM (this includes Silverpop) simply call their variables ‘personalization’. You can read more about how it works here.



In Sendgrid these are called ‘Substitution tags’. Note that your first name tag may vary depending on how you have set your recipients data. For more details please see their documentation.

Constant Contact

{First Name}

Constant Contact call the first name variable a ‘Greeting Tag’. Here they explain how you can insert it using their email builder but you can always copy paste the tag in your code too.



BlueShift have a short list of standard variables – literally the basics. Of course, similar to all other providers, you can create your custom ones. More info is available on their official website.



Braze call their variables ‘Personalization Tag’. A complete list can be found in their documentation section here.



This is one of the main variables in MailGun. A full list of the pre-defined variables is available here.

Last words

Once you have the name salutation inserted, don’t forget to test it. This way you will make sure that the variable you are adding to your email is actually working. Each email provider has its unique way of testing but the main principle is that you run a preview with a chosen contacts list. The platform will display the names from this list into your email preview.

And remember that once sent, an email cannot be fixed. This is why you need a thorough email preparation checklist. This is a list of all steps you need to review before sending to ensure you are ready with a solid HTML email.

As a Leading London Email Marketing Agency, we’re happy to assist you in the design, personalization and management of your email marketing campaigns.