‘How’s It Goin’, Eh?’ And Other Salutation Dilemmas

After I opened three emails in a row that started with “Hey there,” I realized that my surprised reaction could be attributed to my Canadian/British upbringing. But still, in a B-to-B communication, is it appropriate to open the dialogue with “Hey there”?

While it’s proven that a personalized salutation (“Dear <<First Name>>”) out-performs the more generic (“Dear Friend”) in direct mail for charitable asks, and a 2013 Email Marketing Study from Experian claims that personalized emails deliver six-times higher transaction rates, then why is the trend changing?

Like most of you, I get hundreds of business emails in my inbox every single day. Some are well written, informative and chock full of interesting and useful information — others not so much. I admit that when the email from someone I am not familiar with starts with “Dear Carolyn,” I take an extra second to scan the content because I think I may know them … and this is a marketer’s dream.

But don’t just take my focus group of one as gospel. Marketing Experiments did a head-to-head test to determine if letter-style emails were still effective, and they were able to get a 181 percent lift in conversion when a more formal/traditional style of communication was used. Why?

As Flint M. points out:

  • An email message is not a monologue; it’s a dialogue. People buy from people.
  • If the marketer can learn to participate with the prospect’s conversation, they can guide it with messaging towards your desired conclusion (clicks/purchase).
  • Effective email messaging requires one key skill: Empathy (the ability to discern the nature or being of the customer).

The bottom line is that in order for B-to-B emails to be most effective, marketers must set aside their own self-interests to fundamentally understand the interests or “pain” of their target audience — and it does NOT start by addressing me as “Hey there.”

Secretly, I suspect that this new trend is coming from a few millennials tasked with email marketing for their companies and their lack of formality is because they themselves aren’t comfortable with the traditions of a more seasoned decision maker. Perhaps I’m wrong.

According to Mail Chimp, the June 2015 stats of email open and click thru rates continue to fall, and in some vertical industries they’ve fallen further than in others. If your company is falling behind the norm, I’d like to suggest taking a hard look at your email message starting with the salutation.

Don’t get me wrong. Simply slugging in “Dear <<First Name>>,” at the top of your existing email is not what I’m suggesting.

Instead, spend some time either educating yourself on best practices (just Google the terms and you’ll find hundreds of links to lots of great tips of what works and what doesn’t), or hire somebody who already knows this stuff by heart. Because if you do a good job of building a prospecting lead base or finding an appropriate cold prospecting list that can be segmented by vertical industry (a hands-down best practice!), and you match your email messaging/content to that segment with useful information that empathizes with your target and can solve one of their pain points, your open and click through rates should improve dramatically.

And leave the “Hey there” salutation for the uninformed.

Author: Carolyn Goodman

A blog that challenges B-to-B marketers to learn, share, question, and focus on getting it right—the first time. Carolyn Goodman is President/Creative Director of Goodman Marketing Partners. An award-winning creative director, writer and in-demand speaker, Carolyn has spent her 30-year career helping both B-to-B and B-to-C clients cut through business challenges in order to deliver strategically sound, creatively brilliant marketing solutions that deliver on program objectives. To keep her mind sharp, Carolyn can be found most evenings in the boxing ring, practicing various combinations. You can find her at the Goodman Marketing website, on LinkedIn, or on Twitter @CarolynGoodman.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *