Most commercial emails I receive are very impersonal. The emails typically come “from” the company’s name, rather than a person’s, and the reply address often points to some general email box, rather than to a person I know. This is the case even when I know someone at the company.

Businesses can improve response rates and drive more sales if they personalize their emails — not just the email content, but also the “from” name and reply address.

Here’s an example of how a local business group applied this principle to improve attendance at its monthly events…

For the past few months, I have helped Experts for Entrepreneurs (e4e) promote its monthly workshops. We include an item about the workshops in our monthly email newsletter, and then we send a second email a week later all about the workshops.

Until recently, we would send both monthly emails from “Experts for Entrepreneurs” with “” as the reply address. The emails had the e4e banner and other graphics. There were obviously promotional pieces from an organization, rather than a personalized email from an individual. In May we tried a different approach.

First we added three fields to our recipient database — e4e contact first name, e4e contact last name, and e4e contact email. Then we asked e4e leaders to identify those on our mailing list with whom they have a direct relationship. We updated recipient records in our database with the name and email addresses with the connected e4e leaders (the e4e contacts).

We then composed a simple email with no graphics — just text on a white background — that used data-merging functionality to personalize the content. It began: “Dear : I’m writing to invite you personally to attend this month’s workshop…” The email ended with “Thanks! and then merged in the e4e contact’s first name.

When sent the emails “from” the corresponding e4e contact (merging the first and last name) with that expert’s email address as the reply address.

MarketVolt Send Form with Personalization

This is the form in MarketVolt to personalize the from name and reply address

When we updated the e4e database, we listed me as the contact for several of the people on the list. So when they received the email, it came from “Tom Ruwitch.” It ended with “Thanks! – Tom” And the reply address was my email address. Others on the list received personalized emails from one of the other e4e leaders.

The response was outstanding. All of the e4e leaders who participated received several direct replies from people thanking them for the invitation. In some cases repliers sent their regrets, but in other cases, they registered. Registrations increase more than 25 percent following the email.

One person who attended the event said he opened the email because it came from a person he knows, and he read it all because it was “a personal email,” not a company promotion.

Don’t get me wrongThe promotional emails we previously sent worked well. But the personal emails performed better. If the people on your company’s email list know a person in your business, you can try this.

For businesses with multiple sales or account representatives, personalized from names and reply addresses can significantly increase response rates.

Try to find an email service provider that can automate the process — as e4e did — by merging the contact names into a single email, sent once. Some software can’t automate this so you will have to create separate lists for each contact and schedule separate deliveries for each. Even if you don’t automate the process, it’s worth the effort.


This post originally appeared in St. Louis Small Business Monthly for which Tom Ruwitch writes a monthly marketing column. 

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