If you’re like me, you probably get a lot of email newsletters from people you follow. And like me, you’ve probably noticed how many of them start with your name?
Using your first name in these types of form emails does make them seem a little more personal. Even though I know some of these emails are going to thousands of people, seeing my name at the top makes me think the sender really cares about me. It’s involuntary and subconscious.
But what happens when they use the wrong name because you typed in something silly when you signed up? “Hi Mickey Mouse” doesn’t have the same effect as your real name, does it?
This happens a lot to me, but for a different reason. I always use my real first name, JP, when I sign up for newsletters. Unfortunately, a lot of newsletter systems are too smart for their own good and they transform my name to “Jp” with a lower case “p”.
When I see “Jp,” a little trigger fires off in my brain that says, “This guy doesn’t care about me at all! He’s not even using my name correctly!” The original intent to personalize the form email has the exact opposite effect when used the wrong way.
If using personalization offends part of your list, should you avoid it all together? Some studies show that personalization actually does improve open rates and user experience, so avoiding it seems like a bad idea.
So how do you correct this issue and stop offending that portion of your subscribers? One way is to remove the capitalization rule that changes names like mine. Your developer or email provider should be able to help you do this.
As for bogus names, you can hire a virtual assistant to help keep your list clean by removing names that are most likely not real (e.g. Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, adsf, 12345, profanity, etc.). You can provide a list of these types of names or guidelines for identifying them to your VA.
In most email systems, if the name is missing, the personalization will use something generic like “Hi” (without the name) or “Hi Friend”. It’s not as personal, but it also doesn’t offend anyone.