Hyper-Personalize Your Marketing Emails + Gift Ideas Under $50
Because I'm sick of holiday gift guides that require you to spend at least $100
📧 Hyper-Personalize Your Marketing Emails
Around this time of year, we’re all getting a lot of marketing emails, especially from ecommerce companies. If you’re sending marketing emails, you would be wise to ensure every communication is valuable. Actually valuable. And if it’s not, consider not sending anything until you have something valuable to give. Otherwise you’ll probably kill your open rates in which case... what is even the point of sending an email?
One way to ensure your email is valuable is to hyper-personalize it. Run a campaign that goes a level deeper than, “You bought a shirt last month. Buy another shirt!” Try:
You bought a shirt, now shop these matching jeans and slacks.
Here are 5 totally-new items we’ve added to our shop since your last purchase.
Did you like that sweater? Here’s a $10 code to buy one for your friend, too.
You’ve been a loyal subscriber for 11 months now. Here’s an $11 code to apply to your next purchase.
Your next box of coffee beans will ship out soon, add on an extra bag if you’re hosting a holiday party! (Ok, this one isn’t even a real personalization, but you can probably apply this to any subscription offering.)
Attention is harder than ever to grab. So if you’re going to demand space in someone’s inbox, make sure it’s worth their while. :)
↪️ Reply with additions: If you have other ideas for improving email marketing strategy, reply to me (or comment below)! If your response is awesome, I’ll share it next week along with a link to you.
🎁 Gift Ideas Under $50
Since it’s the holidays, I have gifts on my mind. Surprise, surprise, I overthink every single purchase so I have a lot weirdly specific gift ideas. All under $50, mostly around $20.
(But first, if you want a bunch of delicious food and drink gift ideas, head over to the SparkToro blog.)
Here we go:
For hard-to-shop-for people: It’s probably at least kind of cold where you are. Get your gift recipient a super soft, fuzzy sweater. Even if it’s not quite their style, these sweaters make for great at-home loungewear. I wear this one all the time, and I gifted this zip-up hoodie to my brother.
For sentimental people or parents: Grab a photo from your loved one’s social media profile and turn it into a glass print. Print an image of them with their significant other, a grandparent, a parent, or their own children. Lots of parents perpetually have “print out family photos” on their to-do lists, and a glass tile is a great way to cross off that task for them.
For people who like candles or who seem to have everything: A rechargeable electric lighter! It’s only $11. I know this is weirdly specific but this is my latest Amazon purchase for myself and I really love it. The spark looks kind of like a taser which freaked me out at first, but it works well for lighting all kinds of candles, especially for mostly-finished ones where the wick is far down.
For goodie bags for groups of people: Nice for co-workers, your kids’ teachers, or friend groups. Or for whomever. Buy items like cheap wool socks in bulk, then split them up into gift bags. I also like glass nail files, rose salve tins, packs of cable organizers, peppermint lip balms, lightning cables, micro USB cables, snail jelly sheet masks, and IKEA shopping bags (which is everyone’s favorite gigantic bag but they don’t realize it).
For a pregnant person: It can be a nuisance to shop for maternity clothes, especially since it’s something someone only wears within a span of ~9 months. So it’s a treat for a mom-to-be to receive clothes. I really like everything from Ingrid and Isabel, especially this jumpsuit, but it’s a little pricey. Old Navy’s low-panel maternity jeans are reasonably priced, soft, and easily wearable for several months postpartum. And this tunic top was my favorite top to wear when I was pregnant and postpartum.
A good default for anybody: A knitted throw blanket that’s a similar color to their sofa. It’ll add cozy texture to their living space, and extra blankets are always useful anyway. Bonus points: to gift wrap, tie it with a pretty ribbon.
If you like giving semi-homemade gifts: Buy a pack of 8-ounce glass bottles or mason jars, and make your gifts in bulk. One year, I made body butter (coconut oil, a couple of vitamin E capsules and a few drops of lavender oil, whipped in a stand mixer) and spooned them into mason jars. This year I’m making honey syrup (equal parts honey and water, boiled and simmered, then cooled) for at-home cocktails or tea.
For quirky people, kids age 7+, or for white elephant: This Throw Throw Burrito game is a hilarious dodgeball-style card game. This light box with letters is fun and cute. And this tortilla blanket is absolutely ridiculous (and soft!). Gifts that will make anybody smile.
And general guidelines for gift giving:
Truly great gifts are useful things the recipient would never buy for themselves, either because they didn’t think of it or because they wouldn’t dare treat themselves.
When you’re unsure, you can buy them a nice version of an artifact that’s related to their hobby. Is the recipient a pickleball fanatic? Get them a monogrammed paddle. A home cook? Heavy duty oven gloves. Neat freak? A set of Scrub Daddy sponges. (Seriously, those sponges are great and they’re kind of expensive, so they’re annoying to buy for yourself.)
🍰 Petits Fours
Four bite-sized blurbs linking to interesting content.
12 trends that will shape our careers in 2023: I look forward to reading this fun roundup curated by Nick deWilde every year. Interesting to see what’s top of mind among folks I admire across industries.
The anxiety of “broken agreements”: We’re all busy. Oftentimes, we have to re-prioritize tasks and chances are, the first things off our list are the things that mainly affect ourselves. But if we constantly break agreements with ourself, we suffer in the form of “disintegrated self-trust.”
Why we get sick in the winter: Germs are there year-round, so what is it about the fall and winter that makes it cold and flu season? Turns out the colder weather kills at least half of the billions of cells in your nose that fight off viruses and bacteria.
A short thread on video content: “TikTok/Reels/video is not *social* media, it’s *gig* media. It’s Uber for Entertainment. Gig workers ‘creating content’ with no union benefits or regular hours or clear employer. The rest of us watching the videos are the riders, not drivers.”
🍛 Arroz Caldo (Filipino Rice Porridge)
A comforting cold-weather essential.
1 small onion, chopped
1 chicken bouillon cube (optional)
2lb chicken (I prefer dark meat), seasoned with salt and pepper
2 heaping spoonfuls of minced garlic
1 big knob of ginger, grated
2 tablespoons fish sauce
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 cup sticky rice
1 cup jasmine rice
1 quart chicken broth
2 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
Fried garlic (optional) (can be bought at Asian grocery stories, Amazon link is mainly for photo reference)
1. In a stock pot over medium high heat, saute onion in ghee or cooking oil until slightly softened, about 4 minutes. Add chicken bouillon cube (if using) and stir until dissolved.
2. Brown the chicken, about 4 minutes each side. Stir in garlic and ginger, cooking until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Add fish sauce and soy sauce.
3. Add rice, and cover with broth and water. Stir. Cover loosely and bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer until the rice is cooked and liquid has slightly thickened, about 40 minutes.
4. Serve in bowls. Garnish with chopped scallions, pepper, and fried garlic, if using.