Avoid Personalized Email Marketing From Being Mistaken as SPAM

Personalization in email communications is always a valuable goal.  In fact, the level of personalization continues to get more and more sophisticated.  Marketers can segment by trigger events, demographic information, or gathered personal data.  Unfortunately spammers and scammers are leveraging the same tools to deceive recipients. The escalation in marketing tool sophistication is creating skepticism with recipients who are becoming savvier at identifying automated messages and screening them out.

Many email marketers are using a simple email format that appears to be a one-to-one communication with the recipient rather than a bulk communication.  There’s nothing inherently wrong with the approach but some of the tools that made these emails so effective in the past have been adopted in unscrupulous emails and can cause suspicion.

I personally learned this lesson when I received an email requesting a feature review from a marketing tool provider I used in the past.  The email appeared to be sent to me personally but when I scanned the text and saw a generic salutation with my name, my company in the body, a reference to an association I belong to, and a lengthy explanation of the new feature, I assumed it was a bulk email and deleted it.

It’s only when I got a call from a person in their support team that I had worked with that I realized they actually only sent the request to a small number of previous clients for feedback. So if I mistakenly assumed an actual one-to-one email was SPAM, what chance does a personalized bulk email have?

There are some lessons to pull from my red flags in this email.

  • Salutation – make it appropriate to the email. If it’s meant to be informal have it written that way like Hi <First Name>.  Avoid general salutations like Dear <person>, it reads as a merged bulk email.
  • Company – Unless there is really a reason to reference a particular piece of personal data, don’t use it. Any information dropped into a non-specific sentence will appear like a merged field.
  • Association – I assumed the sender had gotten access to the association’s member list and emailed all of us. Same lesson, if the data isn’t pertinent, don’t include it.
  • Lengthy – Make sure your email gets to the point. It should be as short as possible, clear on the request, and simple for the recipient to take the next step.

Not coincidentally these same lessons can be applied to effective one-to-one professional emails you send but those emails typically include enough specific information to not be perceived as a bulk communication. Placing a few personalized fields in a bulk email will not make it personal to the individual.

Our next post will cover including personalized triggers to make the email more engaging by specifically identifying why an individual is receiving the message.

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