Personalization of email seems to be a darned if you do and darned if you don’t choice for email marketers around the world. While there are clear and undeniable advantages to having the recipient’s name in the subject line so that your customer fully understands at a single glance that this email is specifically intended for them, the problem is that it has become such an overused tactic by the less reputable emailers that it can smell of a huge mail merge which is the exact opposite of indicating that your brand actually cares enough about the customer to send them a personal missive. Walking the personalization tightrope can be a difficult balancing act but it can lead to improvements in your customer engagement if you do it right.

Personalization can turn a dream into a nightmare

There is essentially no real problem to personalizing the subject line of any email campaign newsletter or message as whether it is done in a direct personal approach manner or even if it’s just a field in a mail merge implementation. The impasse occurs when you run into the stigma of personalization which can turn an appeal strategy to the customer from a dream to a nightmare.

It’s basic human psychology to halt at the sight of your name

Spammers specialize in placing the name of the recipient in the subject line as they are well aware that it allows the customer to sit up and take notice. If they are swiftly glancing at their email inbox, it is inevitable that their eyes will stop at the insertion of their name into the subject line. It’s basic human psychology to recognize your own name when it is written down.

The knock on effect can stain your brand’s reputation

Where the spammers have to some degree ruined the procedure of personalization of subject lines is when they have indelibly connected that characteristic with the Viagra, Cialis, and other online scams. Of course your customer is going to be wise to the scam when they read their name in the subject line next to a pitch for prescription pharmaceuticals or offers to make $26,946.17 before breakfast, but the “knock on” effect of the wariness of online scamming can carry over to your own brand’s perfectly legitimate email offerings.

Should you ban personalization forever?

So… should you forever ban personalization of subject lines from your email newsletter campaigns? Not necessarily. The composition of your subject line, along with the information included in the preheader can actually turn a negative into a positive, as long as you take exquisite care in crafting this critical text. It is an old email nugget of conventional wisdom that any email marketer should take 50 percent of their time in composing the actual newsletter content and the other 50 percent of the time doing nothing more than refining the subject line and preheader text so that it is consummately attractive and encourages the recipient in every way to open and read the message rather than just hit the delete button or worse yet, the spam one.

Strive to be as unspammy as humanly possible

The key to making personalization work for you is to expend significant effort in having those critical bits of text speak volumes as to your brand’s intent which should be not to sell sell sell, but to establish a relationship with your customer where they see your business as an authoritative source of reliable and unbiased information about the products and services in your industry sector. Even if your call to action for that particular email is based on a discount, special offer, or price-matching scenario, you are well advised to save that for the body of the email, while concentrating on having your subject line and preheader focusing like a laser beam on the social and interpersonal aspects of your brand’s presence.

Avoiding the semblance of spamminess in all of your personalization will help to convince the customer of your ethics and that will result in more sales than hitting them over the head with a hard sell driven naming strategy which could backfire!