National Emerald Club: Don't Nuke the Rabbit

My father once told me, “If you need to hunt a rabbit, you can use a bow and arrow or a hunting rifle. You don’t need a bazooka to hunt a rabbit - and certainly not a nuclear missile.” I later adapted that thought to a slogan of “Don’t Nuke the Rabbit.” This applies to marketing: Don’t Nuke the Rabbit in marketing communications. Take a sensible, simple approach to conveying your message.

National Rental Car could have taken that approach with the Subject Line of a recent marketing email.
National Rental Car
National Rental Car
Subject Line:
"Marc B, you're on the road to your first ONE TWO FREE reward"

The Subject Line from National Emerald Club is addressed to “Marc B.” While B is indeed my middle initial, neither I nor people I know use it when communicating with me. National knows that my first name is simply “Marc” (because the email was addressed to “Marc Davis”), so why add the middle initial? To me, it appears to be a distraction, so this would be a minor Fail for Creative.  

A second minor Fail for Creative appears in the Subject Line. The message refers to me being on my way to my “first” ONE TWO FREE Reward. This is a decent message, giving me a goal to which to aspire—namely, my first free award through this rental car promotion. However, I already have my first award. In fact, I have two awards. The body of the personalized email states that I already earned two free rental days and I am making progress toward my third free rental day.  

Rather than using a Subject Line that attempts to include my middle initial and referencing the first award, the Subject Line could have been these and have been as effective:

Marc, you're on the road to a ONE TWO FREE reward

Marc, you're on the road to your ONE TWO FREE reward

Personalizing an email Subject Line is believed to increase the likelihood of it being read.  That is a current take on what one of the great gurus of direct mail, Direct Marketing Association Hall of Fame writer Joan Throckmorton, once said in a marketing seminar (I’m paraphrasing a bit): “A person’s name is the most important word in the English language.” But we can discount that premise a bit with this particular email. It is from a rental car company to customers who opted in for a specific promotion, which means it is already timely and relevant to the reader. So, if National wanted to keep things simple, they could go with this non-personalized, simple, No-Nuked Rabbits Subject Line and have about the same level of effectiveness:
Your ONE TWO FREE reward is just down the road

Or this Subject Line would fit within National’s brand identity:

Drive on! Your ONE TWO FREE reward is just down the road

  1. Be careful using a middle initial when personalizing communications.
  2. While trying to optimize personalization in your communication is worthwhile, you should also keep your execution simple.