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Email Marketing Personalization Often Annoying

Posted by Michael Bloch in web marketing (Tuesday June 18, 2013 )

A recent survey has found poorly executed personalised emails are common – and annoying.Over 70 percent of people participating in a survey sponsored by Lyris and run by The Economist said ‘many’ of the personalised messages they receive are annoying as the attempts at personalisation are superficial.

One of my favourite examples of superficial (and very wrong) personalization is a well known Australian electronics store that starts out each email to me with:

‘Hi 85608,’

… it’s not a very friendly way to commence a sales pitch – and considering they have my first name, I’m still puzzled by the reference (no, it’s not an account number either).

Anyway, back in the old days – like 5 years ago – personalising greeting lines and subject lines was A Good Thing. These days – not so much so. The best case scenario is folks gloss over it, worst case is the vendor fumbles it and then it leaves a bad impression.

It seems the go these days isn’t personalisation, but customisation.

So what’s the difference?

Personalisation is often based on user attributes chosen by the merchant, whereas customisation gives the consumer more control over what they receive.

An old issue that is still a concern for consumers with regard to opt-in email communications is privacy. A third fear information they provide will be shared with third parties – and that is regardless of company privacy policies that state otherwise. While that suspicion exists, how you handle customer data is still required in a privacy policy. Privacy policy is often in legalese type of wording, so what I found helps is to have a brief friendly statement on a subscription form that summarises the spirit of it, for example:

“We hate spam and will not give your details to third parties.”

Mind the marketing gap – Sizing up marketer and consumer perceptions can be viewed in full here (PDF).


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