Is it really acceptable to call me ‘Dear Customer’ in an email?

It’s a funny thing, but 10-15 years ago, once everybody had mastered “mailmerge” in Microsoft Word, it was almost taken for granted that direct (postal) mail would be personalised. To be honest, ever since that time, if I get a letter from a company which starts off “Dear Sir” or “Dear Customer”, I rarely get much further. But you know all this; I don’t suppose you’re any different to me, and I don’t suppose you ever mail out anything to your prospects or customers without properly personalising the main correspondence.

So why do so many companies think it’s acceptable to do this with emails?

The answer is a combination of laziness and technical ignorance. It’s also another manifestation of that massive error which so many companies make, somehow associating the cheapness of sending out emails with a lack of need to put any effort into them. That’s crazy. We all know email marketing is effective, so why not give it the care it deserves? Sure, “mail merging” salutations into each email takes a bit of effort (not least because I bet your email list is a bit scruffy), but if you were prepared to maintain your postal mailing list so you could put a personalised “Dear…” line in at the start, then you should be prepared to do the same with your email list. At the very worst case, at least have two lists, one of recipients whose details are fully complete, and another of those who you’ve got nothing more than an email address. Then you can personalise at least some of the emails. And don’t let technical ignorance hold you back. Incorporating the recipient’s name into emails is usually a lot easier than mastering Microsoft Word’s mail merge once was.

Discussion

  1. Dave J.

    I am working on launching from scratch right now. I’ve been struggling with going with the minimum ‘just email’ registration right now, for a couple reasons (higher conversions being one), but this is a good reason to get their names.

  2. Chris Rand Post author

    Ed – I’ll see what I can do.

    Dave – Asking for name as well as email on signup shouldn’t hurt conversion in my experience, and any losses will be more than made up for by better performance due to personalisation.

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