The Potential Problems of Personalization

Amy ChubbuckRecently, a colleague of mine received an email thanking me for doing business with them. My name personalized in an email addressed to him. They thanked him for my business. What should have been an important step in their customer-follow-up sequence ended up making them look bad. That email misstep is the reason for this post.
It’s a great example of what not to do.

Email personalization can be an excellent tactic. What a great way to grab the recipient’s attention. You recognize them as your valued customer, and talk directly to them. Kind of gives that warm and fuzzy feeling. But before you decide to go ahead and start personalizing all your emails, there are a few things to consider.

Remember, data in is data out. Whatever information is stored in your database about your customer is what will appear in the email. If a customer’s name is misspelled, or you only have a first initial, that is what will show up in your personalized email. That said, the first step to email personalization is proper database hygiene. Make sure that your list is clean.

Be sure you have a backup plan. If the information you would like to use to personalize is not in your data, make sure you have back up information. So instead of “Dear Amy,” have it say “Dear Friend” or “Dear Valued Customer,” but don’t have it say “Dear ,”. You will deliver a blank email, aka, an obvious attempt at personalization that failed.

Testing is also essential when personalizing an email campaign. Test often and test frequently prior to sending. Make sure those who are intended to receive the email are, in fact, the same people to whom the email is personalized. Double check, then check it again.

If done right, email personalization can be an effective marketing tactic. It’s an excellent way to capture attention and build a relationship through direct digital marketing. However, if it’s not done correctly, it can be the difference between an email that is read, and one that gets marked as spam. Do the work to get it right.

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