Some say yes, some say no. Me, I prefer not to start my newsletters with “Dear Peter” or “Dear Joanne”. I’m all for personalising communication but my question to you is … “If you don’t really know the person, is it worth pretending as though you do?”I have discussed this question with many people and they’re usually surprised that I would suggest not using my subscribers’ first names. Most people know me as friendly, outgoing and approachable and while this is true, I also believe in authenticity and not playing silly mind games designed to ‘befriend’ your audience.
Think of this example which I read in an article by Naomi Simson of Red Balloon.
“We learned that lesson the hard way – years ago when RedBalloon used to put the person’s first name in the header of our email campaigns. That was too intimate – because we might write ‘Jane, what are you giving your mother for Christmas?’ Only to get a very terse response – ‘If you knew me well enough you would know that my mother passed away last Christmas.’”
Ouch! Not only is it painful for the subscriber but it’s embarrassing for the company; not to mention potentially damaging to its reputation.
So, if you choose not to take the personal approach, you can simply begin your emails to your database with “Hello all!” or “Good morning!” Never use “Dear Subscriber” because that goes too far in the other direction … very impersonal, very cold.
Unless your database of subscribers is comprised of only people you know in person, it’s very ill-advised to use their first name when sending email communications.
What are your thoughts? And have you experienced any of these issues as the recipient of a company-sent newsletter?