Are your emails too robotic?

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I love the random email conversations my blogging spawns, which have involved everything from why hedgehogs hibernate to arcane technical details of COM dll registration. I recently received an email from a young entrepreneur asking me to check out their site. Then, a few days later I had a another email saying basically "I noticed you read the last email we sent you, why didn’t you reply?". Checking the source of the original mail, he’d embedded an image bug to work like a read receipt.

I had to admire his enthusiasm and drive, but was definitely creeped out by the way he was tracking me. I wish I understood why my marketing sometimes fails, so to try and turn this into something positive, I thought I’d discuss what didn’t work for me with his original message:

——

Subject: Blog Question

I came across your blog and thought you might be interested in trying out my product X.  We help you solve common problems with creating your blog from placing in text links, placing pictures and videos, and more.

Check us out at http://X.com , use the invite code: X

If you have problems understanding what we do on the site please let me know, we are a young company with a great product.  We have a new site coming out in the next few days that will make everything more clear.
Thanks for your time, I look forward to hearing what you have to say.
Thanks,

Robert X

X@X.com
Forward email
This email was sent to searchbrowser@gmail.com, by X@X.com
Update Profile/Email Address | Instant removal with SafeUnsubscribe™ | Privacy Policy.

Email Marketing by
X | 142 South X | San Francisco | CA | 94103

——-

I came across your blog and thought you might be interested in
trying out my product X.

For a start, there’s no "Hi Pete", or any other personalization that demonstrates he’s an actual reader of my blog. Mentioning a recent article is a quick way to show you’ve spent a little time learning about your recipient.

We help you solve common problems with
creating your blog from placing in text links, placing pictures and
videos, and more.

This sentence is pretty vague and unclear. You have a few seconds of someone’s attention, you need to make a clear and concrete promise about the benefit to them of investing more time on your proposal.

If you have problems understanding what we do on the site please let me know, we are a young company with a great product.

I actually quite like this part, it’s projecting a good attitude and wanting to start a conversation.

We have a new site coming out in the next few days that will make everything more clear.

This, not so much. That made me think, "well, maybe I’ll just wait a few days and look then, rather than spending time now on something unclear".

Thanks for your time, I look forward to hearing what you have to say.
Thanks,

The double thanks adds to the assembled-by-robots feel.

Bugredacted
This is a screenshot of the actual footer to the message. The mentions of email marketing and unsubscribe options made it seem even more like this was a mass-mailing. The tracking bug is hidden in there too, though I didn’t know it until I checked.

I will now be replying to Robert, and I hope he takes this in the spirit it’s intended. I spend plenty of time trying to get people interested in my projects, so I know it’s not easy. One thing I have learnt is that there’s no short-cut to getting someone’s attention. You have to put in the time to understand what your recipient wants, and highlight what you’re offering that fits in with that. A form letter like this is unlikely to get the response you want.

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