How personal is too personal?

A few weeks ago I made the weekly email I send out a bit more personal. I changed the title from "Thought for the week" to "The Word from Pete". I added the salutation at the start of the email so it now says "Hi Jane" at the top of the email. And I changed the signature from "The team at Love Your Business" to my name. Three pretty simple changes that have led to some startling results, some interesting feedback and one very funny story.

Prior to the changes, we were getting 65%-75% of our emails being opened, and 13%-26% of people clicking through on the links. Nothing wrong with those numbers, especially when you consider how many emails people get.

Since making the changes, the rate that the emails are getting opened has climbed to 88%-129%. Thinking back to year 10 maths, I think there is something not quite right with 129% ... my guess is that some people are opening the email more than once. And the click through rate is now between 27% and 37%.

I've had one person say that he didn't like having the email addressed to his name if I was sending a group email. I've just changed his name to "there" on this mailing list, so now his email will say “Hi there.” I do what I can. (Although ironically this attempt to make his email feel more generic is actually more personalised.)

And now the funny story.

At the start of our recent Love Your Money Workshop I asked everyone what they wanted to get out of being there. Everyone gave answers within the range of things we were expecting, except my mum. She said that she didn't know what she wanted to get, and was only there because I told her she should do it. This was news to me.

In the first break I went and spoke to her.

“I didn't tell you that you should do the workshop,” I said, “you told me that you wanted to do it.”

“But you sent me an email telling me about it and inviting me to do it,” she said.

“That email went to everyone on the list,” I explained.

“But it was addressed to my name.”

Mum had thought because the email was addressed to her name, it was a personal invitation from me meaning that I thought she should do the Workshop. And bless her heart, even though she didn't have anything she wanted to get from it, she came along because I thought she should.

(Fortunately Mum did get a lot out of attending the workshop after all, so the story has a happy ending.)

Are there simple changes that you can make in the way you communicate with your customers that could make a big difference?