How far is too far? That’s been the question on the tip of everyones’ tongues in the wake of this year’s Golden Globes. Some feel that host Ricky Gervais was overly offensive in his duties this year. Others thought he was incredibly funny. It got to the point where the Twitterverse was abuzz, wondering if Gervais had been canned mid-show. The head of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association has already said Gervais will not be invited back to host next year. Gervais is a comedian, hired to be funny. He lost an opportunity to do it again, while seemingly doing his job. This is a cautionary tale for marketers that want to use humor in their email campaigns.

I personally went through this internal debate when I began writing blogs for Benchmark. My writing style often lets my wit and sarcasm through, but I was skeptical to do this at first. I included some, little by little. I continued to add more as I was encouraged to let my personality come through. Now, I sometimes find myself surprised when a joke makes it through to the site.

The point being, I tested the waters. I started out timid and let the audience dictate where I could go with the humor. Email marketers should do the same. If you start slow, you can build a relationship with your subscribers. You will gain trust, and they will give you a little more leeway. Obviously the goal isn’t to get past the breaking point. I’m just saying that if you do, it will be easier to get back in the good graces of your subscribers.