What You Need To Know About Personalizing Emails In Mailchimp, Salesforce, And More

01 Jul 2020 Last updated: 25 Apr 2024 By Simeon Prokopov

Email personalization is a great way to improve your contacts engagement and optimize your email marketing campaigns. It helps you get straight into the inbox by changing up how they feel about receiving emails from you.

In this article we will show you how to make your email marketing campaigns work effectively. In order for it to be effective, one of the most important things is personalization; start by finding out what name they go by and use that in your greeting.

So you have followed the best practices when building your email. Now it is time to personalize it by putting a salutation. It can be something like ‘Dear John’, ‘Hi Emily’, and so on. It has been proven that recipients respond more positively when they see their own names used rather than being addressed generically (e.g. ‘Dear Customer’).

The following table lists some of the most common first name variables.

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 add first name to an email in Mailchimp use *|FNAME|*

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.


To put a first name in an email in Salesforce please use %%first_name%%

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 your HubSpot email add a first name salutation by inserting {{contact.firstname}}

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


In Marketo, you can add a first name to your email by inserting lead.First Name

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

Campaign Monitor

Add a first name to your email by putting [firstname,fallback=your content here]

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

IBM Watson 

A first name can be added by putting %%FirstName%%

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


In Sendgrid, insert a first name to your email by putting -firstName-

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

Insert your recipients first name by putting {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.


Add this to get the first name in your Blueshift email user.firstname

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.


In Braze the first name personalization is simply first_name

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


First name in an email can be added by putting %recipient_fname%

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

Last words

When you have the name salutation inserted, don’t forget to test it. This way you’ll make sure that the variable your adding to your email is actually working. Each provider has its own unique way of testing but in general as long as you preview with a chosen contact list and see their names displayed into the message body then everything should work out fine!

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.

Keep your company’s name in the minds of potential customers with a personalized email marketing campaign.

Agile Digital Agency can help you design, personalize and manage these campaigns.

Simeon Prokopov Simeon Prokopov

I am a managing partner at Agile Digital. A graduate of Modern Balkan history, I made a complete pivot in my career when, together with Juan Pineda, we founded a nearshore design and development studio Sofyma in 2009, followed by our digital agency Agile several years later. Over time, I have worked on hundreds of digital projects from small startups to global brands. I enjoy writing in our Blog about topics I am actively involved in at work.