Intelligent Form Letters

Personalized Form Letter --- JoshuaKerievsky 07 Mar 2002

. . . according to ConveniencesForFastWork, our communications tool needs to help us with tasks that would take too much time for us to do manually. Producing and sending personalized form letters to a large quantity of people is such a task. We don't want these letters to be completely generic---lacking any personal warmth---and yet we don't want to take the time to personalize each letter. A Personalized Form Letter is a tool for efficiently merging the generic with the personal.

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Many form letters make no personal connection with their intended readers and as a result, don't get read.

People who read form letters that have no personal connection to them often stop reading after a few sentences or words. What makes them stop? It's often a feeling that they don't want to be spending time reading a generic message that was sent to perhaps hundreds or thousands of others, and which has no direction connection to themselves.

What if the form letter mentioned the recipient's name? Would it have a better chance of being read? Probably. The simple mention of a person's name makes at least the most basic human connection. But our form letters can be more intelligent than that, for even if they mention a recipient's name they can still come across as cold and impersonal.

Our communications tools must have a better understanding of who we are sending message to in order to enable us to personalize these messages. For example, say you are sending out a party announcement to 150 people, one of whom happens to be a good friend who is also a new Dad. Wouldn't it be nice if the party form letter to the new Dad also included some text like "hey Dan, how's fatherhood treating you?" But how would your tool know to include that text? It wouldn't, but it could know that

  • Dan happens to be part of your InnerCircle
  • You may want to personalize form letters to people within your InnerCircle

Given that knowledge, the tool could prompt you to input personalized text to Dan and even let you decide where to include this text in the party form letter that will be sent to him. Such a capability would be a leap ahead in terms of what our email programs can do today. In fact, most of today's popular email applications don't even provide the ability to send out a form letter that includes a greeting addressed to each recipient's first name.


Make it easy to send a form letter that prompts the sender to input personalized text to all recipients or a select few (InnerCircle) and let the sender position this text within the form letter. Include a mechanism that lets senders easily include greetings to each recipient's first name.

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Make it easy for people to un-subscribe from form letters---EasyToUnsubscribe.


Last edited December 24, 2002
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