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#3.01: The “Make It Personal” Issue

1> Jeff Bezos Needs to Talk To You
2> 90 Million Messages Can’t Be Wrong
3> Your Baby Is 37 Weeks Old!
4> Important Investment Advice

1> Jeff Bezos Needs to Talk To You

Did you get the important memo from Jeff Bezos, the CEO of You know, the one that starts out, “We’re doing an important test at that we wanted you to know about. It may be the most important experiment we’ve done to date.” All that was in that email was a free shipping offer. But you can bet the bookstore that far more people opened that message than a generic plug from the marketing department. The message got all the important elements right. The “From:” address was Jeff Bezos ( The “To:” address was specific to each recipient. And the killer subject line, “Important test at,” was intriguing and timely. This was a well-done email promotion.

THE LESSON: Personalization demands attention. Good copy gets read. Email is still direct mail, and if you can create something that stands out from all the clutter in the inbox, you’re going to get attention. And attention drives sales.

2> 90 Million Messages Can’t Be Wrong

Email marketing shop YesMail analyzed more than 90 million messages that they sent in Q1 2002 to understand the impact of personalization on the effectiveness of email marketing. The results? Response rates doubled or tripled when two or more elements of a message were personalized. On top of that, unsubscribe rates for personalized messages are less than 1/3 of those for plain messages. Elements that can be personalized include name, interests, gender, age, and purchase history.

THE LESSON: Add a personal touch, even a single item, and watch your sales increase and your lists grow.

More info:

3> Your Baby Is 37 Weeks Old!

That was the headline on a email we received from Not only did this personalized message get our attention, it was quite a surprise to our editor (and his wife) who don’t have any kids. What happened? We signed up for the newsletter months ago, and the registration form required us to enter a birth date for our non-existent baby. There was no other way to subscribe, so we had to enter something. This is a common problem with web forms. As much as you desire to collect demographic data, consumers are not going to give it to you unless they want to. Any mandatory fields in your forms force surfers to fill in garbage data. The more required fields you use, the more garbage data you collect. In most cases, you’re better off leaving everything optional — no data is better than bad data.

THE LESSON: Personalization works, but it’s got to be done right. Blow it and you’ll lose customers instead of gaining them. When gathering data, make sure it’s good data before you use it.

4> Important Investment Advice

GasPedal does not usually provide investment advice, but we thought it was important that you hear this.

If you had invested $1000 in Qwest stock one year ago, it would now be worth $40. A similar investment in Enron would leave you with only $2 of the original $1,000. If you had bought $1,000 worth of Miller (the beer, not the stock) one year ago, drank all the beer, then turned in the cans for the 10-cent deposit, you would have $220.

THE LESSON: In the current investment climate, we recommend you drink heavily and recycle.

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