Inauthentic Email Marketing Personalization

ID-100234288 (1)A lot of aspects of email marketing get lumped into good and bad categories.  One such aspect is personalization.  The more personalized the better.  In some ways that is true.  If you can cater content to a particular audience to ensure relevancy then personalization is good.  However many trainers, consultants, and professional coaches don’t have an infrastructure or list size to make segmentation   practical.  So instead they “personalize” by adding a form field name to the top of a newsletter or offer email.  This is inauthentic personalization where the communication is meant for a group but contains superficial personalized elements.

Personalized email means its set up for a particular person or audience.  Trying to make general communication personalized is often a transparent effort that has no measurable effect on metrics. We recently ran a test on a client’s stock newsletter that had always included a first name.  There was no measurable difference when we tested a version with a name vs. a version without.  The audience understood that they were receiving a company communication not intended as a personal message, therefore the added name was just superficial.

Adding a name to something like a newsletter usually does not do any harm but it’s also not creating a personal connection.  Generally people can identify when they see a form field in an email.  Real problems arise when trainers, consultants, and professional coaches attempt personal messages delivered in a mass communication method.

Recently a client asked about doing an email campaign to local business owners. The campaign included a report specific to their geographic target.  Furthermore they had generated a list of business owners of the applicable size and industry verticals.  Seems like the perfect setup for a true personalized email right?

The issue was that they wanted the emails to come from individual consultants in their office as if the consultant had typed it.  The reason for this is that each consultant was to be assigned a particular business owner to call and offer a customized analysis of how the report related to their business. The plan was to run the emails through an email marketing platform.

The emails from an email marketing platform have to include SPAM compliance information and opt-out instructions.  That’s non-negotiable so it served as a clear give away that the consultant had not actually written an email to the business owner but rather done a group blast.

Instead of doing an inauthentic personalized send we restructured the email to send from the companies actual email addresses.  Furthermore, the groups were broken down into smaller sections that allowed for very specific customization by demographics.  The result was that it was more time consuming to get the emails out but responses were better as the emails were actually personalized.

Inauthentic personalization might make you feel like the email is “better” but often has no real impact. If personalization is desired then an effort need made to actually personalize it.

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