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Three things happened within the last 24 hours which lead me to feel that today we need to talk about email personalization.

First, one of our own customers sent us a test message so that we could try to determine the reason that some of their email is going to the junk folder.

The very first line was:

“Hello %%firstname%%,”

Second, I received a genuine spam from a company with which I have no relationship, and its very first line was:

“Hello @[email protected],”

Finally, yesterday we remarked in passing how using the recipient’s name in the subject line of your email can get you junk-foldered. Why? Because it looks like spam.

So, what does this all mean, and how does it relate to you?

Well, first, pretty clearly, if you are using mail merging or any other sort of technology that inserts your recipient’s names into your email, you need to really be sure that you know how to use it, or a) you’re going to blow your cover (because, after all, the point of personalizing mass email is so that the recipients don’t feel as if it’s mass) and b) you’re going to turn off the very people you are trying to woo, and c) you’re going to end up in the spam folder.

Second, I invite you to really think about your use of names in your email. Is it really enhancing your email? Is it really enticing your recipients to take the action that you want them to take, whatever that may be?

Or is it annoying them, making them feel that you are taking liberties that you oughtn’t by using their name when they know that you have no idea who they are – have no personal relationship with them.

And here’s the amazing thing – this is such an easy thing to test! By simply split testing your mailings (some with names, some without – or with another salutation), and seeing which yields the greatest return, you can easily know if personalizing your mailings with names is a good idea.

Or a disaster just waiting to happen.


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