Can email personalization negatively affect a campaign's results?

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Personalization in email is a perfect way to connect with your audience on, you know, a personal level. It could even boost your campaign's open rate. But when you get the personalization wrong, it can give off an amateur vibe or, even worse, make your reader feel completely irrelevant. Here are three easy ways to make sure your emails come across as personal, sincere and polished.
  1. Use a valid reply email. We're human, and we all make mistakes. It is possible that one day your list merge may go awry. You might just address your customer Sara with "Dear George." And Sara may want to reply to let you know about the mistake. A [email protected] address not only feels impersonal but it could cause you to miss out on an opportunity to learn about your mistake and lead to an unnecessary number of unsubscribes. Make sure your customers can help keep you in the know.
  2. Make sure you have the data. If you don't have many members' names stored in your audience, or if you're storing details that are NSFI (not safe for inboxes), it's best to skip personalization altogether. You can send out a "manage preferences" form to collect and use that information in the future, but you don't need to start off addressing almost every member of your audience with placeholders. It defeats the purpose.
  3. Avoid generic placeholders. I get it: You value me as a customer. But you don't need to address me as "Dear valued customer" in your emails; it feels generic. Placeholders are a helpful safety net, but sometimes they detract from the message you so carefully crafted in the rest of your email. My advice? Segment out the recipients who don't have a first name and nix the personal greeting altogether. They won't know it's missing, and your content will take center stage.
Bottom line: Addressing your recipients by name in the subject line or greeting of your email is a great idea. You just need to check your list more times than Santa Claus and test, test, test to make sure you've gotten the experience just right. Mary Foster is a social media specialist at Emma Inc., an email marketing and online communications company.
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