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Email failure: Microsoft messes up personalization

So the big companies must have marketing teams with members amounting to small companies, right? When you take Microsoft for instance I wouldn’t be surprised if they had a few hundred people working at the main marketing department alone, leaving out external bureaus, freelancers and any satellite Microsoft offices. This also means they would have the luxury of colleagues checking out other’s work before it gets sent out to a gazillion people. With the example in this post I guess they didn’t, as this Microsoft Intuit Front Runner email shows a ‘Hi Insert Name’:

Ouch. When you use personalization, either make sure you have all the details used in that personalization or have a fallback alternative like ‘reader’, ‘member’ or such. This was noted by several people on Twitter, among which were Scott Sorheim and Joel Strellner. It was sent out to the Microsoft Partner Network, and I’m not sure how many members it has but it’s probably more than a hundred. You might say that it’s easy to pick on Microsoft, but that’s not the point here: the point is that even the big guys get the basics wrong. Because that’s what personalization is: a basic factor of email marketing which should be correctly applied, tested and run in the email marketing campaigns. It’s not difficult, it’s not rocket science, so screwing it up is all the more painful.

Hopefully the person who is responsible in the end will not be fired but allowed to learn from this mistake, and make a checklist of things (or many things) before pushing the send button. After all we are all human beings, nobody is perfect and even with a pool of several hundred marketers a simple email personalization can and will go wrong (hi Murphy), as the above example shows. Email marketing cannot get to the next level if you don’t get basic factors like segmentation and personalization right: stumbling there will hold you back towards email marketing excellence.

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