The Perils of Newsletter Personalization

Yesterday I received a Facebook "be my friend" request. It went like this:

"$Name$$, Facebook considered you as a friend. I enjoy meeting like minded people, hope you feel the same."

Personalization is a wonderful thing. And so is technology. Mix them and you have a powerful cocktail – or a recipe for disaster.


It's proven that personalization can boost response to your marketing efforts.

That's why I use it myself. You'll see this email has your name at the top.

Like our Facebook "friend", you've got to be careful. Use it too much or make a mistake with the technology and you look an idiot.


I use it (sparingly) in text emails like this because they have a kind of intimidate nature. The fact that they are text (not pretty HTML) makes them more personal – more like a real email. I've noticed I get more response from "text" newsletters than HTML ones.

I don't, however, use personalization in my monthly HTML email newsletter. There's something about the nature of the design and the content that make it more like a publication, not a personal note. It just seems wrong.

HERE'S WHAT I THINK. Personalization can make someone notice you.

But you want to go beyond that.

If you've succeeded in building a strong relationship with your clients, focus on being authentically you in your communications – not faking intimacy with technology.

(By the way, what many people don't know is that you can include personalization in your printed marketing. It costs you more, of course, but I'd be willing to bet your return on investment is higher, if the price of the product justifies it. Disclosure: I haven't tested print personalization myself yet.