Prevent Common Personalized Email Mistakes

Personalized emails are great because they help build a relationship between you and your subscribers, and typically increase open and click rates. However, there is a certain risk to sending personalized emails: what if you accidentally send an email with a subject showing a variable name like “%Firstname%%” instead of the subscriber’s name? You definitely don’t want to send incorrect information to your subscribers, either. So here are 3 common mistakes and tips to help you prevent them from happening in personalized emails.

Mistake 1: Sending a Message with a Bad Variable Name

Have you ever accidentally sent a message saying “Hi %firstname%” instead of having a variable populate with the subscriber’s name? It’s a common mistake that may hurt your relationship with your subscribers. However, it’s very simple to prevent.

First, you don’t need to memorize the mail merge variables or try hand typing them into a message. That makes it way too easy to write a simple typo. Instead, you can click on the insert variable/merge tags in Critical Impact, and have the correct variable automatically inserted into the message. This removes the possibility of accidentally typing the wrong variable name.

Also, we highly recommend sending yourself a test. You can even send yourself a test while “impersonating a recipient” so you can see exactly how the message will look for a specific subscriber on your list.

Mistake 2: Sending a Blank Value

If you don’t have a value saved for the subscriber’s custom field, then nothing will populate for the variable on a live send. So if you didn’t upload a value for every subscriber, you could end up sending a message saying “Hi ,” instead of “Hi Alice,” for example.

The best way to prevent this from happening is by adding a default value for the custom field. For example, you can make the default value for the firstname field something like “Valued Member.” Then if you send to someone who doesn’t have a first name saved, the message will say “Hi Valued Member,” for them.

Setting up a default value is especially important if you are using mail merge variables in the from address of a message. Make sure you make the default value a valid email address for any field you plan on using as From address or From name. That way you won’t have any delivery issues due to sending a message to someone without a from address.

Mistake 3: Sending Incorrectly Segmented Content

Failing to use personalized content correctly risks angering your subscribers. My husband recently got an email from a shoe company advertising only women’s shoes. He laughed and said why in the world would they think I’d be interested in this?

To help prevent these types of mistakes, make sure to clearly label your lists. You’ll be less likely to send targeted messages to the wrong list if you clearly name each segment. With dynamic content, you can have specific sections of your message populate with content based on subscriber preferences. To test each type of content, you should use the “impersonate recipient” option when sending a test message. That way, you can send the tests to yourself, but populate the message content with subscriber content from each type of segment.

How to Correct a Message After It’s Been Sent

Everyone is human: mistakes happen to the best of us. So if you accidentally sent out a message with the wrong content or to the wrong segment of subscribers, you still have a chance to make it right. First, you can redirect links or replace images to update the content in the subscriber’s inbox even after they receive the message. You can also edit the content in the view as webpage version of the email, if you need to update text, images, etc.

Depending on the severity of the mistake, it can also be helpful to own up to your mistake. Send a quick message to your subscribers acknowledging what happened with sincerity, and including the correct content that you wanted to send. This is a great way to engage with subscribers and make sure they know you care.