Nov 2, 2011

eMail Marketing. To personalise, or not to personalise?

The stats say no.

Colleen Backstrom

Kaleidoscope Online Marketing

Years ago direct marketing campaign gurus insisted that response rates improve considerably when you personalise.  [Experienced marketers will remember the great Reader’s Digest Sweepstake campaigns, where not only the envelope but the letter as well as the text within the letter, used the person’s name].

Today I am often asked by companies whether it is worth the effort to personalise their email campaigns.  Personally I have always felt a certain discomfort at some stranger knowing my full name.  After all I know that I come off some database, so the friendliness of “personalisation” rankles.

At last there are some stats to silence the debate.

“Personalization in subject lines dramatically reduces both open rates and click through rates -- with open rates of 6.7% (compared to 11.2% overall) and click through rate of 1.2% (compared to 1.6%).”

and in another survey

“ eMails that had only the subject line personalized (12.4% Open Rate & 1.7% CTR) did worse than those with no personalization at all (13.5% Open Rate & 2.7% CTR).


So the answer is “don’t personalise” unless you have had a meaningful interaction with your prospective clients...  which would entitle you to know their names.   

Colleen Backstrom

Colleen Backstrom is CEO of Kaleidoscope
Advertising and Marketing, one of the leading email Marketing companies in South Africa  She is specifically focussed on the business and strategic thinking prior to the creative concept and essential in the production of communications “that work.”  Her company specialises in creating eMarketing Divisions for corporates.

Colleen is past chairman of the Institute of
Marketing Management, the first woman in South Africa to hold that position.  She has received the President’s Award from the Institute of Marketing for outstanding marketing contribution.  As one of South Africa’s Direct Marketing experts Colleen was the Keynote speaker: Direct Mail Symposium, Birmingham, UK “The Customer doesn’t believe in Advertising anymore: Direct Marketing in South Africa.  She was published in Direct Marketing International UK. Recent publications appear in The Strategist., The CEO’s guide to Strategic Thinking.


  1. interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you

    Online Marketing<

    1. Thank you for your feedback. We have a lot more articles and will publish them as we go. Glad you have enjoyed our blog.

      Kaleidoscope team