I’ve learned to stop and react to finding my name in the subject line of an email. After reading the subject line, my attention immediately jumps to the sender field. Who is this? How do they know me? Better yet, how do I know them?

When it’s a company I trust and recall past interactions with, the sight of my name is reassuring. How sweet, I have a new Facebook friend. Oh no, my credit card bill is due tomorrow. However, if it’s a name I don’t recognize, the email is spam. No further investigation, no second thoughts – it’s spam. Click unsubscribe and get out of my life.

Email customization is a powerful tool. But, in the wise and ever-relevant words of Spiderman’s uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Take caution when customizing your emails with recipient’s names, companies, titles, etc – there is a fine line between being personable and being creepy. Creepy emails use personal data without clarifying to the recipient how their information was captured.

When customizing email campaigns with recipients’ personal information, take the following precautions:

  1. Make sure it all starts with a form: Even if you already have a lead’s name, title, location, etc, let them give you their information before you use it to customize an email.
    • Maybe you have a lead’s personal information from a purchased list. First, email them introducing your company and include calls to action to a lead capture form.
    • Once they’ve engaged and completed the form, you are free to include their details in future emails.
  2. Display provided information in a confirmation email: If you’ve sent a registration email for an event or webinar, include the information registrants provided in your follow up.
    • Even then, remind recipients that they completed a form. Try including their answers in the body of the email for further evidence.
    • Example: “Thank you for registering for our Death of Cold Calling webinar! Please review your registration details below.”
  3. Don’t overdo it: When you have a lead or customer’s life story, it’s easy to get carried away with your customization efforts. Let’s include their name, company, address, and blood type!
    • Cap your customizations at four. Any more than this seems like you’re adding personal information simply to take up space.
    • Try adding their name to the subject line, then company name and title in the body. This personalizes your message, so recipients don’t feel like they’re reading a mass email.

Whatever you do, make sure email recipients know your company before customizing emails. Don’t introduce yourself by detailing how much you know about them. Our goal is to be a trusted and reputable information source, not to give email recipients the “uh oh” feeling.