The Dirty Secret of Personalized Email Marketing

• Marketing Processes



The debate on mass email marketing never stops. And every now and then, someone pulls off a nice story about personalized email marketing, or perhaps I should say ‘Extremely Personalized’ email marketing. By extremely personalized I mean an email that is meant only for one individual. We at Kissflow had the same dilemma: which one was more effective? So we decided to run a A/B test on this.

We picked 200 contacts of identical profile (e.g. job title, size of the company, industry, geography). For 100 contacts, we sent mass emails with some simple personalization like addressing them with first name. For the other 100 contacts, we did deep research about them on social media and wrote very personal opening lines to them before asking them for a click.

Here are the results from this A/B test activity.

email screen3

MM = Mass Mailing /// PM = Personalized Mailing.

The extremely personalized email marketing results are stunning. The open rate is 500% better than the mass mailing and the click rate is more than 200%.

But here’s the catch. The above table doesn’t tell the full story. The thing that is hidden is the effort that required to do either of the activities. Look that table below so that you get the full picture.


A really great email marketer might be able to squeak out 20 of these extremely personalized emails a day. So it takes five full working days to send 100 emails. In that same period, his counterpart doing mass email marketing could have sent out 4000 emails and produced 80 clicks. You may ask, Why not send 40,000 or even 4 million emails? There is significant effort in gathering email databases for the target market we are addressing and curating. We use various SaaS software for this task. We also have internal tools that we run by to check for invalid email addresses and other checks. This all involves manual work and the best anyone can do is 800 curated emails in a day with less than a 10% bounce rate.

So the summary is, purely looking at the numbers, targeted Mass Emailing seems to produce better numbers than extremely personalized emails.

How does this stack up with your experience? Please comment