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The Obnoxious Trend of Faux Friendliness in Mass Mails

on August 21, 2013

I’m sure there’s tons of evidence that shows personalizing a subject line increases open rate. I’m not going to bother researching it for you because I know it exists. Heck, the Publisher’s Clearinghouse made their business on throwing as much personalization into their direct mail and messaging as possible.

Seeing my name on a lot of direct mail and mass email is fine. People who I don’t know call me David all the time. It’s my name. What I find highly irritating is when people who don’t know me and I don’t know them, use faux engagement in mass emails as part of an incredibly lazy ruse to try to trick me into paying attention to them.

Mass faux engagement takes many forms, such as:

Faux friendliness

Often, after a salutation, I’ll get an opening greeting such as:

How’s it going?

I hope the week is going well.

You looking forward to the Superbowl?

I hope you’re having a good day!

What is the expected response here? It’s a mass mailed message. The sender obviously does not care how my day is going. This is just a poorly veiled ploy to get me to respond. This is a move one would pull on a moron, and if we were morons you probably wouldn’t want us writing about your product.

Faux apologies

This is where the opening line apologizes for the mere existence of the email. I’ve received messages that begin:

Sorry to bug you.

Apologies if you’re receiving this a second time.

The sender is not sorry that I’m receiving this second time. We don’t usually apologize for something we’re actively and consciously doing. There are only two things that could have happened: I missed it, or I saw it and I deleted it. That’s it. Nothing else happened. The sender shouldn’t be apologizing for sending the message a second time, they should say they’re sending it a second time hoping that they might be able to catch my interest now.

For all those people responsible for sending faux apology emails, stop apologizing. If you’re going to do something you think someone else will find annoying, then simply don’t do it. Or if you are going to do it, then own up to it and explain why you’re sending something the person may be irritated receiving.

In addition to stopping faux apologies, you can also avoid making predictions as to how busy I currently am.

Faux praise

Here’s a message I just received. I have changed the names of the person and the company.

Hi {fname}!

I’m Matt, the Community Manager over at COMPANY X. Pleasure to connect with you!

We love your blog and all of the great social media marketing tools that you share.

First thing we all notice is their mass mail didn’t work. They obviously didn’t test it properly. But the second line is what gets me. They’re trying to compliment me, but it’s obviously a blanket compliment that they’ve given to everyone on their mailing list.

Do they truly love all our blogs and all the social media marketing tools that we all share? Wow, they must have a lot of love to give out.

That could be the case, or the more plausible explanation is they’re LYING TO ME. If engagement is the goal, opening with a lie is probably not a good tactic.

Call out faux engagement

Faux engagement is a hideous and obnoxious trend and it needs to end. If you’re responsible for sending faux engagement emails, simply stop it. It’s truly having the opposite effect. We all think you’re an asshole. If you’re subject to faux engagement, respond to the a-hole and call foul. If enough of us do it, this irritating trend will hopefully come to a quick and rapid death.

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