For some time now the accepted wisdom has been that you should personalise your emails as much as possible. Most email delivery software now comes complete with easy to add fields that automatically pull in peoples names, company, job title and so on.
But does it work?
Some new research suggests it doesn't. The study, conducted by the Fox School of Business, analysed over 10 million emails sent to over 600,000 people, and found that 95% of recipients responded negatively to an email that was addressed to them by name.
Not surprisingly they found that the most angst was caused when the recipient did not know or have any relationship with the person or company sending the email. However even those that did have a relationship still responded more negatively towards the personalised emails than to the generic ones.
“Given the high level of cyber security concerns about phishing, identity theft, and credit card fraud, many consumers would be wary of e-mails, particularly those with personal greetings,” the researchers said.
That isn't to say that personalisation is always frowned upon. For instance if the email contained product personalisation, ie recommendations based upon what the person had previously purchased, this was almost universally liked.
The researchers used their findings to craft four key strategies for improving email marketing effectiveness:
- Do not send personalized greetings to new customers. If greeting past purchasers personally, don’t expect improved results.
- Send emails to established customers more frequently than to new ones. A large number of emails may drive a new customer away but may prompt an established customer to purchase.
- Build a relationship with new customers by only emailing them ads for products they are predicted to like. But expand your relationship with existing customers by occasionally exposing them to products they’ve never bought before.