The Crazy Tree Press

Use Caution With Email Personalization

Email marketing is a great tool and one that businesses and organizations of all types should take advantage of on one level or another. However, just like every other form of customer communication, it’s not without a few danger zones.

One of the areas to watch out for is personalization of your emails. This is the process whereby the computer automatically inserts the first name or other personal info into an email where you say to. The problem is, the computer doesn’t apply common sense, that’s up to you.

Danger Zone: Clearly Impersonal Emails Personalized


If you look closely enough, you’ll see that this email (which looks nothing like an email) says “Dear Tim” right before some words that sound nothing like an email.

Some people just like the sound of their own name and I’m right there with them, but other than some tiny potential endearment just because I see my name, using it in this email makes no sense at all.

There is no “personal” to this email. It looks like a web-page, it reads like a web-page, it essentially is a web-page that was delivered to my email inbox. Do they really think that I’m going to believe that they wrote this and arranged all these pictures and links, just for me?

Danger Zone: Email list “name field” problems

How does the system know what name to put in that spot anyway? It uses the information input into a form when the recipient signed-up to get the emails. The problem is that people don’t always follow instructions.

I, for example, might decide to use the name of my company, Crazy Tree Media, instead of my name in a form. I might not feel like giving out my name at the time. So, from then on, I will get emails from that company that say “Dear Crazy” at the beginning. Thus confusing me and making me think the email is from my wife.

If you have time to go through your entire list looking for things like this and fixing them, or at least being aware of them, then you can make the call. But sending out a personalized mass email to a list you haven’t looked through name by name is, IMHO, more trouble than it’s worth.

Weigh The Benefit

When writing an email to be sent to the masses, I often ask myself… what is the real benefit of personalization on this email. Sometimes it’s really a big deal. If you’re trying to make your email sound like it really is to just one person, it could be the way to go.

But at the same time, I think it’s possible to alienate people by using any form of automated “trickery”. If it’s clearly a mass email, give folks some credit for knowing the difference. If it really is personal, then you probably won’t be using a mass email system anyway, right?

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