Pitfalls of Email Personalization

Google personalized emails statistics and you’ll get a gazillion studies proving the effectiveness of personalized emails. Yes, yes, yes; personalized, tailored communications outperform generic communications. We can all agree on that.

But personalization (and the data management around it) isn’t magic. And don’t let anyone tell you it is!

Done poorly, personalization has the opposite intended effect. The sender looks like a buffoon who is trying to pull off a charade.

Take a look at this example. The merge of salutation data didn’t work, leaving me to feel like one of many “leads.” Wow. I feel so special.

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I wish I could say I’ve never had a personalization error happen in my campaigns, but I can’t. So I’m sharing some tips from our team on how to avoid everything from minor snafus to major debacles.

  1. Look at the raw data — If you’re importing into an email system, you need to look thoroughly at what’s going in. Seriously, look with a fine-toothed comb. Garbage in, garbage out, as they say. You might have a terrible blunder in row 1,256. Catch it now. Also avoid having anything colloquial or informal in your data. “Guy I met at 2019 conference” cannot be in a name field in your spreadsheet, however accurate it is!.

  2. Use an email rendering service such as Email on Acid or Litmus to view your email in a variety of browsers. These services can seem pricey — but worth every single penny. They will save yo ass.

  3. Don’t forget the preheader (also called the second subject line). It can live in your code and only appear front and center when it arrives in the inbox (cue scary music of doom). Find out where it is and make sure it has nothing outdated or embarrassing in it.

  4. Do a live deployment. Most people just use the “test” function when working on emails. You can actually deploy a campaign to five people to double-check that the data is pulling correctly. Better to find out now. Once you’re satisfied, duplicate that email and deploy to the masses without fear.

  5. Assume nothing. Our team works really hard to leave nothing to chance. If you utter the phrase, “Oh I’m sure it will be fine,” that right there is the kiss of death. You’ve sealed your fate! Check it — and check it again.

And if a mistake happens … and it will, just remember it’s a learning moment and something to be added to your ongoing checklist. Email marketing can be a beast. Those of us doing it are with ya.

May the email Gods be ever in your favor.