|*FNAME*| (Oops!)

Remember last week's newsletter? It looked like this...

As someone in the marketing profession, I see mistakes like this from time to time. When I do, I cringe and think "oh boy, that sucks - hope it never happens to me".

It happened to me. And it does indeed suck.

If you're not sure where the oops happened, check out the first line, at the very top - the part that starts "Hey ". See the following 9 characters? The first two and the last two (|* and *|) should have been switched (*| and |*).

Why does this matter?

Personalization is a huge engagement piece in communication. It matters a lot. It sounds silly, but would you rather open or read a message that has your first name, making it feel like it was meant just for you? Or a message that's just general?

(The answer is the former, proven with lots and lots of data.)

Personalization can be tricky:

  • I have to be confident the folks I am sending my newsletter to have a first name attached when they sign up for my newsletter (one of the reasons I ask for a first name, here)
  • If your first name isn't included, how do I structure the personalized statement?
  • Most important, am I that confident I not only have your first name correct (which is really out of my control) but that I have the code behind it correct?

The last point is where I fell down.

  • I checked everyone's name (which can be a long process!) and was confident I had the names correct
  • I checked the structure of the subject lines, opening lines, pre-text, etc. and was confident I had it right
  • I didn't check the code behind it (grumble)

Looking back at the data, I can certainly see the impact: The percentage of people who opened this latest email fell by 16%.

A whole lot of people didn't read the latest newsletter.

Oops.