One of the most common categories of ‘success tips’ for online marketing is surely that of ‘personalizing’ your email. In other words, designing your mass email so that each person receiving it believes, consciously or subconsciously, that they took time out of their busy day to write an email just for you.

I just got one of those, from a US based colleague for whom I have a lot of respect as an online marketer and who regularly has something worthwhile to say. I opened the message before looking at some others, precisely because when I saw the sender’s name and the subject line:
‘Des, a personal note from (person’s name)…’

I thought, ‘Great! A message just for me from (person’s name).


Because as I read through the message I realized:
a) from the language, style and structure it was a standard type of promotional email plug for a seminar;
b) the seminar is to be held two weeks from now in California, some 7,600 miles for me to travel (that’s about 18 hours and includes the special jetlag guarantee from crossing the international dateline).

Not to mention the airfares, local travel, accommodation – not much change if any out of $3,000 point to point. And when I go to the USA, which I love doing, I usually plan to be there for a couple of weeks at the very least, to make the expense and time commitment worthwhile. So there would be all the challenge of reorganizing my schedule, negotiating with my coaching clients about times for calls, etc etc. Not a trivial ask.

In other words, the email is anything but personal in the way most folks would understand the word – and I’m annoyed. Not annoyed in the sense of being personally offended, annoyed at the misuse of language and the devaluing of email communication between colleagues and friends.

Thing is, I may well have bought something sometime from this person or on her recommendation. Now I’ll be wondering how much to believe.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought we were moving into an era when, in order to move forward we were being encouraged as businesspeople to establish relationships of trust as a basis for long term success. In  my opinion, this sort of marketing does anything but.

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