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Why Badly Personalized Emails Are Worse Than No Personalization At All

There’s a kind of mail that makes us rage. It usually goes something like this.

“Hey Jeremy,

I couldn’t help but notice that you’re a Georgia Tech alumni. Go Jackets! 🐝

As a fellow alumni, I felt an instant connection. Their recent win was epic, right? That moment had us all cheering!

Now, shifting gears to business (not as thrilling as a game-winning touchdown, I know), but we’re here to make your professional journey just as victorious…”

This kind of low-effort, cookie cutter “personalization” used to fly a few years ago, but absolutely doesn’t anymore. And if you are resorting to something like this, you should understand that by giving a little more effort, you could be dramatically increasing your chances of winning those big, million-dollar deals that seem out of reach now.

The rise of automation and the fall of personalization

AI tools in sales can broadly be divided into three categories.

  1. Tools to automate mundane tasks, like note taking, CRM automation etc.
  2. Tools to generate insights from data, like conversation intelligence tools.
  3. Tools to create content and messaging. People have started relying on ChatGPT for this.

One of these is not like the others.

When you use the first two types of tools, they don’t impact the relationship between you and the customer. However, generic messages of greeting like cold emails and LinkedIn messages created by generative AI tools (that are NOT built for sales) sure do.

Why do most AI tools create bad personalization?

These tools are very good at surface-level personalization.

Churning out hundreds or even thousands of versions of the same message with small changes based on the recipients’ demographics, education and workplace information.

The result? Millions of messages being sent every day that are technically personalized, but honestly no better than your garden-variety spam.

And that is if the personalization doesn’t go completely wrong. Which can happen for any number of reasons, like:

  • Using outdated information. Imagine sending a prospecting email to someone who very publicly resigned a couple of days ago.
  • Not having details on file and accidentally sending a message with default data. Basically, the “Hello <first name>” email.
  • Making assumptions based on one-off data points. 

If you’re lucky, the recipient might just post a screenshot of the message on LinkedIn (identifying details removed, hopefully) and take a few shots at it. If you’re not, you’ve just taken a potential client off the table.

Bad personalization erodes trust

Let’s take our eye off what badly personalized emails can do and turn to the cumulative harm it does. But before that, we need to understand why personalization is such a powerful tool.

“Personalization is the automatic tailoring of sites and messages to the individuals viewing them so that we can feel that somewhere there’s a piece of software that loves us for who we are.” – David Weinberger

We know that personalization is possible only with the help of software and algorithms, but it can still make us feel special. But if personalization doesn’t do that anymore, it might as well not exist.

And that’s what bad personalization is doing. It’s making personalization less special. And in doing so, it’s eroding trust in personalization itself.

Bad personalization makes the recipient feel cheated. Resentful. Like the sender was trying to fool them into thinking that they cared.

And that does far more damage than even a generic, one-size-fits-all email. 

The antidote to bad personalization? Deep, meaningful personalization

What a lot of B2B organizations forget is that ultimately, the buyer is still a human being. Yes, the B2B buying process is slower and more deliberate, but when the seller is communicating with the buyer via email or phone, that’s still a person talking to another person.

Which means that to create truly personalized emails that can cut through the cynicism of the buyer and resonate with them at an emotional level, you need to speak their language.

And no, it doesn’t mean using their industry jargon, although expressing some knowledge about the buyer’s industry is a definite plus. We’re talking about the tone and voice of the message. Is the buyer a social, friendly person who instinctively dislikes people who just want to talk business? Or are they someone who would much rather do away with the niceties. Do they like being challenged, or do they see it as being disrespectful? When they are being enthusiastic, do they mean it, or are they just being nice?

Like it or not, every buyer is swayed by their own preferences. Yes, people like to believe that they base their decisions, especially business decisions,  strictly on logic and reason, but that is simply not true for human beings. And things get even more complicated in large buying committees. Various personalities have to come to a singular (often expensive) decision, and the seller has to intuitively figure out how to personalize their messaging and tone for each person.

Demographic + linguistic + psychographic data

Why does bad personalization persist?

One of the reasons is that it’s easy. Professionals often have a lot of their information publicly available online. A little bit of research and someone can very easily find a hook to hang their personalization hats on. 

Understanding a buyer’s preference is a lot tougher. Behavior models like DISC make it easier for users to understand buyer personalities. However, implementing them effectively requires careful observation of the person’s behavior and even then, it’s open to interpretation.

This is where a buyer intelligence tool like Humantic AI is incredibly helpful. It’s almost impossible to manually collate and study the digital footprint of a single person, much less all the stakeholders in a sale. However, a buyer intelligence tool can do this in seconds. It does this by taking into account a person’s demographic data, the tone and voice they use in their online conversation (linguistics) as well as their behavior (psychographics). Then, it runs the data through an AI to present a well-rounded and accurate picture of the buyer’s personality and preferences.

Which can then be used to create communication that is impossible to ignore. Not because there’s some basic personalization in the first line, but because it resonates with them at a personal, emotional level.

Creating real connections is tough, but rewarding

Any salesperson knows the feeling of creating an amazing connection with a customer. It goes beyond pure business, there is real emotion behind it.

And when that happens, sales becomes easy. 

However, that happens rarely. Because the salesperson is depending on limited observation of their customer and banking on a lot of luck.

What if you could replicate that, but on every mail, every message, every call? If you didn’t have to depend on luck?

That’s the power of real personalization, and there’s no faking it.

Humantic AI reinvents human interaction by enabling its users to reliably understand other people's personality and behavior without requiring them to take any test. Using Humantic AI's cutting-edge personality AI, salespeople can consistently close more deals.