Email Blunders

I’ve been a reader (and fan) of Inc. magazine for over a year now. I really respect their publication and enjoy reading each issue as it arrives in my mailbox.

The other day I got and email from Inc. Here is a screenshot of a potion of the mail. Notice something missing? (click for larger view)

Email Oops/ What's my name?

What’s my name Inc?

I can imagine it’s not easy being in charge of a large email list. Heck, it’s not easy being in charge of a small email list…I know from personal experience. But jeez, an error like this goes back to email list management basics.

I’m not naive enough to think that someone actually sits down, addresses and sends these emails to each person on the list. I know this message is created once and rips through a database sending to each address on the list. It’s an impersonal process at best…but when you make a mistake like this…it’s like the middle finger of impersonal.

Don’t Make This Mistake!

If you’re in charge of an email list:

  1. Rethink the use of salutations – Are they really necessary? Almost everybody knows it’s fake. Dear? Really, I’m dear to them?
  2. Make careful use of datafields – If you’re going to pull info from the database, make sure the data is clean and the expected values in the field fit logically into the message.
  3. Make exceptions for the null value – This is where Inc. messed up. They didn’t have my name in their database but they tried to insert it into the email. An instance where there is no data in the datafield is know as a null value. Every decent email management system can make exceptions for null values. When a data field is empty, you can insert alternatives like “Valued Customer” or “Subscriber” or “Reader”. That way you don’t get the Dear [blank], problem.
  4. Test, test, test – No explanation necessary.

In a way it’s kind of cool to see a company like Inc. make a rookie mistake like this. It makes me feel better when I screw up knowing that everyone makes an error once in a while…even the big guys.

I see email blunders all the time. Some are innocent like this, some are more serious, and some are just plain stupid. I’ll try to keep note of the blunders I see and share them with you so we can all learn together.

How about you? Seen any email blunders recently?

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