Pros and Cons of Email Personalization

To personalize, or not personalize? That is the question du jour.

Personalization – sending an email that contains the recipients personal information making it look the email was sent to only them – is an easy enough task in most email marketing programs these days. But should you use it?

Most experts waver back and forth between the answers yes, no and maybe so. Some vehemently protest: “No! It’s a thing of the past!” Others believe, “Yes, there’s a certain level of familiarity that can’t be obtained otherwise!” And still more fall into the “maybe, sometimes” category.

Even though we see an incredible amount of emails on a daily basis, our own team members are divided on whether or not personalizing email is a good idea. Find out what they think!

The Pros

Personal details can still grab a reader’s attention.

“When it’s just my name, I tend to roll my eyes. But send me an email based on my past activity, whether it’s events I’ve attended or things I’ve bought, and you’ve totally got my attention.”

-Awesome Amanda

Customary personalization can inspire recognition.

“While having a user’s name in a subject line or email body may seem cliche, there is no denying it’s power. Users instantly recognize their name, which in turn makes them more prone to open your message. It’s a simple way to get noticed in a sea of nameless cookie cutter messages.”

-Enthusiastic Eric
Personalization sets expectations and leads to stronger engagement.

“Using personalization can lead to better engagement with your list. People respond to tailored content.”

-Nice Nick

Nontraditional personalization makes messages truly custom.

“It’s not just about personalizing with first names anymore. With email analytics, you are able to see so many stats for your messages, so you can say with certainty that an individual visited a particular page on your website, or clicked a particular link in your last email. I mean, a lot of these things really fall under segmentation, but it’s just as easy to customize emails with stats as first and last name.”

-Kool Kelly
It’s helpful for split testing messages.

“Personalization is a great tool to use when split testing broadcast subject lines. If you want to see if your subscribers are more likely to open messages with their name in the subject line, you can create one broadcast with personalization and one without in a split test. In turn, this can help you increase opens.”

-Lovely Lindsay

The Cons

People provide false information all of the time.

“If people are not consistently entering names, or entering something other than a true name like “Test,” then it could have the adverse effect of proper personalization.”

-Jive Jeff

It’s a tactic widely used by spammers.

“I can’t even tell you how many emails in my spam folder right now include my first name in the subject line. It’s a tactic that many spammers use – why would you want to identify with spammers? Instead, I’d suggest using a branded subject line: something that identifies your company and serves as a recognizable message in the inbox.”

-Tyrannical Tracey
It can show how poorly you know your subscribers.

“Let’s say Robert signed up for your email list and entered his full name in your form because he always uses Robert for business stuff. But what if they go by Bob? They might see Robert in your subject line and be turned off.”

-Mean Matt

It’s 2010. Most people know that marketing messages aren’t individually sent.

“Sometimes it comes off as fake, transparent and “markety.” As a reader, most of the time I realize I’m subscribing to a newsletter that will also be sent out to a lot of other people. So for that newsletter to try and play it off as if its being sent specifically to me seems almost cheesy and ironically impersonal.”

-Brash Bob

Weighing Your Options

Personalization tactics aren’t bad in and of themselves, but a truly personal email will address a subscriber’s needs, desires, fears and preferences.

Does populating an email with the data you already have available take those things into consideration? It’s not a question that we can answer for you – it’s, well…personal.

Let us know how you feel about personalization in the comments below. We’d love to discuss it further with you!

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66 Comments

  1. We’ve tested several opt-in forms over the past few months and discovered that people were more likely to sign up when they are asked only for their email address and not their first name (or full name).
    Go figure…

    You may want to do your own split testing for this. It’s quite easy. Just copy the form and remove the "Name" field and see what kind of results you get.

    11/23/2010 10:49 am
  2. It all comes down to whether or not you think these pros out weigh the cons. I for one still go with the name in email because I think most people still respond to it.

    11/23/2010 11:30 am
  3. I agree with Michael.

    I often put in a fake name anyway.

    11/23/2010 11:41 am
  4. Good points on both sides. I think the name is somewhat cheesy and I admittedly do use it. But segmenting is a fine line to walk. One one hand it leads to great conversions; yet on the other had, it seems big brother-y as well.

    11/23/2010 12:18 pm
  5. I think this depends on the styel of the email.

    If the text of the main email is very personal too – and its signed by ‘a person’ rather than ‘The Sales Team’ then it makes sense to follow through and start the email with ‘Hi Jon’. But if the rest of the email is very glossy and does not look that personal – I’m not convinced that personalisaiton makes any difference.
    We send all our marketing emails as text based – and they are from a ‘person’. When I A/B tested this – I got an improvement in clicks by 28% for those mails that were personalised. However, I have not done this test with a ‘glossy’ HTML email – it would be interesting to test though.

    11/23/2010 12:21 pm
  6. Jan

    I haven’t tested it, but when I get an email with my name and not my email address name, I pay attention. It’s a reminder to me that I signed up for this email. I am much more likely to open it.

    11/23/2010 12:29 pm
  7. I’ve stopped using personalisation since I looked at the first names given by some of my subscribers. Not even foreign, more like aliens from another planet!

    11/23/2010 12:30 pm
  8. My first post was somewhat incomplete before I hit the SUBMIT comment. oops ..

    The point I was trying to make was, if you’re not going to use personal information anyway (like their name), you may experiment with not capturing it at all during the sign up process. Your sign-up conversions may actually increase, like it did for us.

    11/23/2010 12:31 pm
  9. Dale

    We seem to be doing Okay when asking for a "firstname" in the optin form. Average optin rate is 44.7% for website and 22.3% for mobile leads according to Aweber’s S/UD

    Now would we get more not asking for their firstname probably, but
    I believe it has to do with the nature of our business/offer people are
    optin for.

    For email broadcasts, we use their firstname in the body of message all the time, but only once in a blue moon in the subject.

    A couple of weeks ago we used the firstname in the subject line and our open rate was lower then what we’re use to, but that could have been due to the fact we sent out 2 broadcasts 9 days between each other.

    Our average open rate ranges between the 30′s and 40s %

    So I guess the question is: To or Not to ask for a firstname?

    I believe it has to do with your market niche/offer

    11/23/2010 12:41 pm
  10. jay

    I’m anxious to see where this discussion goes as I’ve been contemplating removing the "Name" from my request forms. The form is required to download a free information product and sign up for a newsletter. I do get a few subscribers that respond and really seem to think I’m sending the email to them personally. Although the percentage who really think I’m talking directly to them is probably not even measurable. Although I do write like I’m talking to each person since the stuff is pretty personal anyway.

    I would rather get more sign-ups then risk the chance of not sounding personal. My newsletters are pretty personal anyway, about life, emotions, and things which are personal to me and I share with my subscribers, so I’m not sure removing their name from the opening line is really going to hurt that much.

    Something I’ve been considering… still thinking about it. Although I guess it’s sort of a pre-qualifier also.

    11/23/2010 12:41 pm
  11. Tyrannical Tracey Made a good point… I will try that one out!

    11/23/2010 1:00 pm
  12. I tend to not personalize because so many people are not providing their real first names to the list.

    But the reason I am commenting is that I LOVE how you structured this newsletter. Colorful, interesting, easy to read, presents diverse opinions, and it’s FUN.

    And what I LOVE LOVE the most is that you took special photos of your staff. I really like the “con” photos.

    I read a lot of newsletters and emails but this one truly stands out. So many Internet marketers have been lulled by Twitter and frequent blogging into thinking that speed and frequency count more than anything else.

    Write down whatever jumps into your mind and toss in some photos of dollar bills floating down from the sky. Then click on send and the money will rain down, just like in the photo.

    This is a real contribution to effective internet marketing.

    11/23/2010 1:01 pm
  13. Wayne

    I’m mixed in my thoughts regarding the personalization issue. It does sort of warm up the greeting, if the body of the e-mail is common sense real. However, what really turns me off is when the first few words of the message itself begin, “…….I’ve been following your comments, and I put something together only for you, no one else.”

    That one definitely gets an “unsubscribe.” I mean the idiot is writing to me because I’m in internet marketing. He knows it and I know he knows it. Does he really think I’m going to believe his autoresponder has something from him, personally for me?

    11/23/2010 1:12 pm
  14. I did a test recently and including the name did NOT improve open rates.

    11/23/2010 1:15 pm
  15. Angie

    It seems a little strange that when one is trying to build a relationship with your list, so they trust you and respect you, you wouldn’t use their first name…somehow being addressed as "Subscriber" or by my email address doesn’t do it for me!

    11/23/2010 1:31 pm
  16. Sometimes I feel it is necessary to show name, when I want to make the letter look more personal. Especially when I use segmentation. For example, women 18-23, interest and income. In that case it will be personal.

    If not using segmentation, that is sending newsletter both for men/women at all ages etc. I would probably not insert name.

    11/23/2010 1:37 pm
  17. JSWilson

    Use the name with Customers – Don’t with Prospects, tire kickers or "Newsletter" recipients! If you’ve earned the right to be on a first name basis with me, (I’ve put my money in your hand,) I’m happy you remember my name and use it. If on the other hand, I have not replied or in someway agreed to be identified with you or your product, don’t assume I’m your "Friend." There’s nothing that bugs me more than to see my first name in an email, just because I signed up for more information regarding an offer. Old school protocol of working to earn my respect and then ask, "Mr. Wilson, would it be OK if I called you John" establishes repore and makes me believe you have my best interest at heart. The "Extra" effort required to be Service centirc as opposed to Profit centric, gets way more respect and long term relationships. Make me know that you care and I’ll be way more interested in what you know!

    11/23/2010 1:45 pm
  18. I think I’d like to test and get a feeling if what my subscribers want, as long as there’s conversion with my emails I don’t feel strongly either way.

    11/23/2010 1:52 pm
  19. Victor Rezin

    We recently did a test on 8 websites by removing the name from the opt-in.

    We started with "no name" opt-in for 15days.
    –>
    Then changed to "first name" opt-in for 15days.
    –>
    Then did it another 2 times around.

    RESULTS:
    Each site had increased opt-in rates when removing the name box and only collecting email each of the 3 times we tested it.

    –> 8 out of 8 sites (in different niches) all show removing the name field from the opt-in box will get you more sign ups.

    11/23/2010 2:01 pm
  20. Bob Ricca

    I’ll chime in on this one, not as a voice of expertise but just to add my personal opinion:

    I think it really depends on the audience you are working with. I’m totally ok with being just another subscriber on a list. Maybe its just my generation (mid 20s), but I don’t like being marketed to.

    If I sign up for a Mexican restaurant’s newsletter, no need for them to try to be my friend or build a relationship with me. As long as they keep me up to date with new menu items, and send me some coupons for delicious tacos on occasion I’ll be a happy guy haha.

    11/23/2010 2:31 pm
  21. Sounds like you guys are just as conflicted as we are!

    Honestly, it does depend on your style and tone and what your readers are used to receiving from you.

    Michael – Excellent point, split testing will certainly help you decide what is best for your campaign.

    Jay – If you do decide to remove personalization from your messages, it will definitely be interesting to see whether or not it helps or hurts.

    Keep the discussion coming!

    11/23/2010 2:48 pm
  22. No doubt personalization helps to build customer relationships, however their effectiveness has deteriorated because: 1-Subscribers are less frequently supplying honest information and 2-People are becoming more aware of personalization tactics employed in email marketing.

    Personalization can and does work, but in order to restore it’s full effectiveness it must now evolve to to a higher level, and once again "get ahead" of the the customers radar.

    I have ideas on how to approach this, but it’s too much to get into right here, in this comment. In fact, thinking about this could make for a nice article or blog post. Thanks for the inspiration guys!

    11/23/2010 2:53 pm
  23. One of the list gurus I’ve read teaches that you should only ask for an email address. He also suggests that you drop the confirmed opt-in (an extra step that people don’t necessarily like). I’m on the fence about the first idea but not too keen on the second.

    I disagree with the initial part of Tyrannical Tracey’s statement. The fact that something is used by spammers shouldn’t stop us from using — they do use email. And they probably drive cars and eat food too.

    However, the branding suggestion is an excellent idea and I’ve seen some marketers use it well.

    11/23/2010 3:16 pm
  24. Has anyone tried offering an optional preference on their subscriber sign-up?

    11/23/2010 3:21 pm
  25. Interesting topic of discussion. Personally, I use personalization often. It’s important to me to create a relationship with my subscribers, knowing full well they may not be providing their true names.

    I often get responses back from my subscribers because they truly think I am speaking to only them with my emails and I think that’s so cool! ;-)

    I would be interested though in split testing optin rates for name and no-name to see if that makes a difference.

    Thanks for sharing the discussion!

    11/23/2010 3:48 pm
  26. Fascinating discussion! Glad I ran across this page. Thanks for sharing your comments, Michele Welsh. Thanks Victor Rezin for sharing your test results. I wonder how large the sampling was?

    Has anyone tested the age factor? I’m wondering if older people prefer personalization whereas young folks don’t.

    11/23/2010 8:58 pm
  27. @Michael I’ve heard of other people testing forms who’ve found the same thing – names on forms keep people from signing up. In many of my opt-in forms I removed the name field and the emails don’t seem to have suffered for lack of personalization.

    11/23/2010 10:15 pm
  28. Personalization worked just fine for me. No doubt. Dale Carnegie said: "The most important word for anybody is when people call for their name" It captivates attention.

    11/23/2010 11:18 pm
  29. It captivates your attention but your copy has to continue the journey to convert the person to buy.

    11/23/2010 11:20 pm
  30. Will

    @Michele,

    I think the fact your subscribers think you are only talking to them on a personal basis would have a lot more to do with the tone and style of your email, than the fact you are using their first name. I bet if you left out their first name they would still react the same way.
    ————

    As with everything in marketing, there is no right or wrong answer here. And split testing emails with and without personalization will not give you very accurate results if you have already been communicating with that list – they are already used to receiving a certain type of message from you.

    If you split test one against another and find adding a first name increases conversions, great. But does that mean you should change over for good? The only reason it probably increased converions is because they are not use to seeing their first name in your message – it’s something different. But start adding it to every email you send out and they will become used to it, and your open rates will go down again.

    If you want to increase open rates work on your email subjects instead. These bear a much greater impact on your open rates. Make your email subjects controversial, peak their curiosity, or ask them a rhetorical question. This is what will get your emails opened time and time again.

    Seriously, I couldn’t care if my name was or was not in the subject line of an email. If the rest of the subject looks like something of interest to me or peaks my curiosity, I am going to open it regardless.

    I personally DO NOT use first names in emails I send – I don’t feel the need. As a marketer I want as many people as possible who are interested in my offer to see it. By removing the name field on my optin pages conversions are always going to increase – it’s never going to go down. Think about it. Giving them one less thing to do can only improve your conversions.

    It all comes down to the relationship you are trying to build with your customer. If you are trying to create a personal one-on-one type conversation with your emails, then the name field doesn’t need to be used. I know when I am emailing close friends or family of mine, I rarely greet them by their first name.

    And most people will only ever enter their real name or a fake name – not the nickname that all their friends call them. So even though you may be using their first name, you are still alerting them to the fact that this email is not from someone who knows them very well.

    Most importantly, make the content inside your emails worthwhile. If they open your emails and always receive valuable content from you, they are going to much more likely to open the next email, and the next…

    11/24/2010 12:16 am
  31. I have personally found that response rates increase when you use personalization BUT you lose many subscribers when asking for the name.

    I have also found that many people who ask for names don’t even use it in their messages!

    Do your own testing of course but if you are going to take the hit and get less subscribers by asking for names you might as well use them!

    11/24/2010 1:02 am
  32. Interesting discussion. I always read all your readers’ comments and I must say I get more knowledge about the topic under discussion that way.
    Thanks everyone for the insight.

    11/24/2010 2:03 am
  33. Always love seeing names and real information from a marketer, because it makes me feel that he has the credibility to work and makes me feel comfortable in dealing with him in everything

    11/24/2010 3:21 am
  34. My theory is keep it personal amongst the people you network with and know but for new people, I find it quite off putting when I get an email saying Hey Neil…we thought you should know about this.

    Personalisation is a great way to attract the users attention but you can be too informal.

    11/24/2010 5:44 am
  35. I do use customization, I’ve not really tested the effectiveness of it. The reason is that I don’t how to verify whether the subscriber opened the email or not.

    Honestly, I’m a newbie. Except from this post, I never knew that some can verify whether his sent message was opened or not. How is it done?

    11/24/2010 9:02 am
  36. Ryan, have you found that the gains from using personalization outweigh the lost signups? I know that is hard to quantify, but if you have any insight or even a gut feeling about it then it would be interesting to hear. Basically, does the open rate for personalized messages make up for the fact that not as many people sign up?

    One thing that I have to keep in mind when doing this stuff is that most people out there aren’t like me. They don’t know about the technology and how personalization works. They respond well to things that turn me off. I guess we tend to be jaded as we’ve seen the man behind the curtain while they’re still experiencing the Great and Wonderful Oz.

    I don’t personalize every message I send out, but I do once in a while, so it is good to have a name. As some of the comments above point out, it is good to keep it a bit formal, yet personal. A fine line to balance there.

    11/24/2010 10:27 am
  37. I have been old school and have only used personalization. Since getting them to opt in is the ultimate prize removing the name only makes sense. Once you develop a business relationship the name can be added and personalized email marketing can begin.

    11/24/2010 12:20 pm
  38. As long as I can keep tricken you Doc, it works for me!

    11/24/2010 2:03 pm
  39. How about using this for a website sign-up form:

    Email address _____

    Optional:

    First Name______
    Last Name______

    That way those who want personalization will let you know by entering their names.

    I think personalization is important in some cases. Others want to remain anonymous and that’s just as important. I’d be interested in hearing if anyone has studied the age factor and personalization?

    11/24/2010 3:14 pm
  40. Did I say before that Aweber education team is amazing? Well, I’ll say it again. The Aweber service is one of the best that I used and the education team is even greater.
    Email personalization is great! I’ve heard this so many times that I didn’t bother to think this through so I also thought it was (not great but) good.
    Well, now I have several points of view and I can make my decision.

    Btw, the way the article was presented graphically with those funny suggestive faces is great too!

    Update: I’ve made my decision.
    I incline more to keeping the personalization but I think that gives the best suggestion: split test the two!

    11/24/2010 3:31 pm
  41. I tend to believe that Personal addressed emails that have an appearance of newsletters or auto emails are in fact just that. Auto, and are not personal enough to convince me that someone has really addressed something direct to me. So most of the time I would just skim it and delete it. So for me I pay attention to the emails that I know someone has addressed to me and writen to me. If they send me a newsletter email and the headline is of intrest, I will keep and read it.

    11/24/2010 9:55 pm
  42. I hate emails which are not personalized. Those are the first I click off. Due to the flood of emails one obtains one has to select. Finally I want to have time do my own business. I also click out all not targeted or vague messages. Why I should open a black box with something for free in it? It is not for free at all, because it takes my time.

    11/25/2010 4:52 am
  43. Honestly, I’m a newbie. Except from this post, I never knew that someone can verify whether his sent message was opened or not. How is it done?

    Please someone help!

    11/25/2010 10:22 pm
  44. Even though some personalization may look like spam, especially if it’s in the subject line. The client is not the subject of the letter.

    I do believe using it in a subtle way shows at least you made an effort to customize the letter for your subscriber, that you went out of your way to do something special for them.

    I have seen my name thrown onto the body of the letter rather than just in the greeting. This at least makes you look a bit more considerate and creative.

    11/26/2010 10:12 am
  45. I agree, it is tough choice. I have went with personalization because I do hope to get to know my readers. I hope that if they want to engage with me then they will be upfront and put their real name when they sign up.

    That is the start to getting to know each other and the start for me to be able to supply good useful content to them.

    11/26/2010 11:11 am
  46. Wow,

    Interesting discussion! I too have heard that gathering only the email address gets higher opt-ins so I’m beginning to test it now.

    Personally though, I prefer to open emails that have my name in them. Especially if the subject line looks interesting. When it’s obviously spam then I delete it.

    I also vary my emails that have the name at the beginning of the subject line and others with the name at the end. Anyone have any experience or ideas on that?

    Similarly, some of my emails within have no personalization when I am sending a newsletter that I use the template with. Then I’ll send one out that says "a personal letter to ______ from Kevin."

    Test, Test, Test and more Testing.

    11/27/2010 9:20 am
  47. Personalization wins this debate. There are more bald guys in the "pros" section than in the "cons."

    Nicely done!

    11/27/2010 10:36 am
  48. Kevin, there is one problem with the way you say you’re doing your list. If someone sends me something that says "personal" or sometimes "private" then I usually delete the email. If I get too many from the same person then I unsubscribe.

    Sending something to a list is neither personal nor private so I hate it when someone uses something that makes it sound like it is "just for me". I suspect that it probably works well though, but I hate it.

    Just my $.02

    11/29/2010 9:59 am
  49. I tested 100 signups over a few days. There were 52 signups when the first name was requested and 48 when it was only email address. Go figure?!?

    So, I still request first name, then make sure I never overuse it. Salutation only. “Hi First Name;” or just “First Name;”. It depends on the context of my email blast.

    If I notice any funky fake first names or misspellings in my AW control panel, I’ll fix the occasional misspelling or just use their email address opening (pre @) as their fist name (this happens maybe 5% of the signups).

    11/29/2010 12:59 pm
  50. I don’t usually use personalization, but I feel I should at least at times. When my newsletter goes out just saying "this item is now availble" I think personalization comes out as false. However, when I have sent out a very casual email that talks about random news & barely mentioning things being for sale, I have often got personal responses. But the thing is it doesn’t really matter how many people open it or how many people go to a site for me, what matters is if it helps convert sales. Anyone have any stats for that?

    11/30/2010 5:16 pm
  51. I’ve noticed a huge increase in Open AND CTRs when I don’t personalize the subject line but in the greeting I do…

    example:
    “Hi {firstname},”

    My MOST all around EFFECTIVE subject lines are:

    Calling all MOOCHES…

    and…

    Only for WEIRDOS…

    Happy emailing

    12/2/2010 5:52 am
  52. Chibuzo ~

    Seeing who opened your message takes just a few clicks:

    On your broadcast page, click on the subject line of the message (after it’s sent, of course), and you’ll see a graph of opens over time, plus each open-ers details beneath.

    Toggle down the left-side menu to see clicks, sales and more. :)

    12/2/2010 9:12 am
  53. EH

    How about hearing from someone at the ‘thorny side’ of one of ‘your’ email campaigns? Me!

    I subbed to someone using Aweber, he comes off as caring and personal, and using the personalization.

    It perturbs me to no end. – Really, you snapped up this incredible offer, JUST FOR ME? – WOW! Thank you very much! I will now rename my first born after you! – Heh heh! – I know, as well as he does, that all he is trying to do is get my money, some how or another!

    I wrote him an email, telling him to quit sending every thing he had to sell, to be selective. Of course, I knew ‘he’ would never see the email, because I knew I was going to get an auto-responder.

    People, quit insulting other people’s intelligence! (Well, actually, the state this world is in, I have to wonder how much intelligence is actually out there.)

    If you really want to know what people think about this subject, don’t ask yourselves, or each other, or worry about doing a split test, ask the people you are marketing to. Sheeesh! Grow a brain! :p (JK)

    12/10/2010 5:39 am
  54. EH ~ Yes, clearly it is important to know your audience before you start sending them personalized messages. :)

    12/13/2010 9:14 am
  55. EH, you have hit the nail on the head with this problem. I don’t think that personalization is the problem per se. You probably get lots of mail (email and snail mail) addressed to you that uses your name.

    The problem is the inappropriate use of it to make it sound like we’re best friends or that they actually sat down and wrote a single email specifically to you.

    Then there is the other problem of flooding people with emails promoting other peoples’ products and lists (i.e. ad swaps). Some people figure that a little is good so a lot must be better. They’ve even automated the process so it gets way out of hand.

    Ultimately, though, split testing is the way to ask people what they want. It shows what people are responding to. How they respond and what they say they want are often two different things.

    12/13/2010 11:58 am
  56. I believe it depends on your reputation. If you have a good reputation and are known in your field, then asking for and using the first name is a good practice. If the first email is really a benefit to your potential customer, then they will open additional emails you send them.

    7/18/2011 10:22 pm
  57. Wow so much to think about! I don’t have list but I want one. On my webform, I think I’ll try going for only e-mail addresses. Can you have a webform for only e-mail addresses only, and then leads to another webform that captures more information?

    8/7/2011 5:55 am
  58. Personally I think it is polite to address your messages to the person. If you receive a letter in the post addressed to the occupier then you probably send it directly to the bin! I don’t address my children as Kid, but by their name, and that is what we all prefer, especially from a trusted source.

    If someone addressed me in a letter as Hi, then I don’t read any further.
    My evidence is that those on my lists prefer to be addressed by their first name, I trust them and they trust me!

    9/10/2011 5:56 am
  59. A few commenters also pointed at what I think the real question is here, which is not should you personalize or not, it’s can you personalize without overstepping. At one end of the extreme is the ‘fake best friend’:

    “Bob! Wow! I have a special deal especially for special you! Cuz you’re my special friend Bob!”. Mmmhmm, riiight.

    And at the other end is simply the truth and not trying to hide the fact you’re using an autoresponder..

    “If you’ve chosen to recieve emails from me, Bob, chances are you and I might end up working together. Would you do me a favour and take a quick look at (some link) and see if the packages I’ve put together make sense to you. If not I’d be happy to discuss your specific needs and put something custom together. Thanks for your time Bob, Jeff”

    Does that seem offensive to you?

    10/27/2011 4:25 pm
  60. I think I agree with Brash Bob mostly. if the content is personalised fine (like how Amazon use my info and emails), but otherwise, I tend to use the personal details for linking back through to the site – using their info more as something to make things easier for them to buy off of me again such as populating their login details.

    11/7/2011 4:19 am
  61. Frankly speaking, I’ve been on the web for such a long time and I’ve seen both types of them so many times that it almost makes no difference to me. Yet, any time I seem the email begins with something like, “Hey Rahman”, or “Regarding the ebook you bought a few days ago Rahman”, etc I have some good feeling although these two are different and I know that it’s not a real person.

    I love it when I ask a huge company like Google for something and they answer me even if they deny my request. Timeliness matter to me more than that.

    2/12/2012 8:35 am
  62. Jon

    Great article, nice easy to read style and gets the points over well.

    Over the last four months I’ve tested my emails with and without name in the title; I get a better open rate when the name is in the title. Maybe my results are different as I know the people in the list (not bought etc), but I’ve found it worthwhile

    2/15/2012 3:41 pm
  63. Thanks for this post. I first started asking for name and email, but right now I’m asking just for the email. Why? Simply because more people subscribe when you are asking them for less data.

    2/27/2012 1:48 pm
  64. Dale

    With the clients I have, I have no problem getting their first name.
    One thing I don’t do is, use their name in followup’s or broadcasts in
    the subject line. Only for confirmation emails onlyl

    However I do use their firstname, in the body of email… Hi XXXX for instance.

    The way I look at it, my friends don’t but my name in the subject line.

    2/27/2012 6:04 pm
  65. I noticed that all of your “Cons” came from the guys. I really think it depends on what your product is and your targeted audience. I think we have become too “impersonal” in our society and we don’t get to know our subscribers. I like the idea of connecting on a more personal level with my subscribers.

    2/11/2013 7:37 am
  66. I think it’s a matter of etiquette. When anything
    Is written out and it’s supposed to go to me, I expect to have my name on it, or “Beat It!”

    8/26/2014 2:18 am