This article originally appeared on iMedia Connection, an online resource covering the latest and greatest in interactive marketing.

In a market that’s saturated with mass email campaigns for every product and service known to man, being able to consistently strike a chord with your customers isn’t easy.

High-level customization of email marketing campaigns usually requires collecting various types of data on your customers, segmenting your lists and using (and paying for) complex enterprise-level tools. But for many of us – especially the small agency or small business marketer – we need to start our email marketing efforts pronto without spending a whole ton of money.

Thankfully, there are ways to make it seem like your campaigns are customized even if all you have are the basics. How? Take your content cue from seasonal shifts, news headlines and even weather fluctuations.

Here are a few examples from big brands where this type of approach works well:

Baskin Robbins: To combat an inevitable dip in ice cream sales during the chillier months, they served up a double scoop of savings with a BOGO coupon (Buy One Get One Free) for their aptly-named Bobsled Brownie cones. Subject line: “Slide into Winter with December’s Flavor of the Month.”

Cole Haan: Their post-Black Friday campaign offered exhausted holiday shoppers a chance to both pamper themselves and score a year’s worth of freebies. (In exchange for an email address, of course!) Subject line: “TREAT yourself: Enjoy 25% off AND enter to win 12 months of shoes.”

Kaiser Permanente: The healthcare provider’s December e-newsletter got a timely (and flavorful) boost by including a heart-smart winter soup recipe. Subject line: “Warm up your holidays with our lentil soup.”

Recyclebank: They gently nudged members to earn extra points redeemable for free stuff by either pledging to reduce energy consumption and consumer waste, or by playing the latest, seasonally-themed game called “Green Your Seasons.” Subject line: “Last Days! ‘Green Your Seasons Winter’ is open, did you get your 90 points yet?”

Of course, you can kick it up another notch by automatically including the subscriber’s first name in the subject line, if you collect that information; most email service providers offer this feature.

Have you spotted any examples of “customized” marketing based on timely happenings or seasonal trends? Let us know!

© 2012, Contributing Author. All rights reserved.