On The Importance of Adressing People By Their Names
Suppose you are inside a crowded place, say a stadium or a concert, with thousands of people talking, laughing and screaming at the same time. In similar situations we are trained to filter that external noise, so that we can focus on what our friends are saying nearby. Our brain is extremely powerful, and it does that job quite effectively.
There is one word, however, that would catch your attention even if it was uttered by someone far away, passing through your filters (well, one word except “Fire!”). It is your name.
That is right, your name is the most important word in the universe for you. Did you ever turned your head involuntarily to someone that uttered your name, only to find out that he was actually calling someone else? When that happens to me I just think “Oh, another Daniel.” It is a weird experience nonetheless.
Now, what does that has to do with websites and the Internet? Well, if you think about it, the Internet is just like a crowded stadium. Among emails, wikis, blogs and social media you have millions of people talking at the same time.
Moreover, if you have a website or blog, I am pretty sure that sooner or later you will want to catch the attention of someone. It could be to request an interview, to propose a deal to a partner, to offer an advertising opportunity to a company, to get the feedback from someone about an article that you wrote.
Regardless of the motive, if get used to addressing people by their names, you will have higher chances of success.
Here is a simple example that illustrates the case. I get dozens of email daily, most of them asking me to visit a link, to review a product or to answer a question. While I try to answer all of them anyway, the ones the start with “Dear Sir” or “Dear Daily Blog Tips Team” kind of lose my interest right away. Why? Cause it communicates to me that the person didn’t even take the time to visit my site or to read a couple of articles.
The emails that start with “Hi Daniel” or “Dear Daniel Scocco,” on the other hand, get me in a more positive mood, and my answer to them is prompt and detailed. I know that the person at least knows who I am, so I become glad to help her out.
Additionally, addressing people by their names is important not only when dealing with emails. If you are going to quote an article, for instance, do not write “The folks over the XYZ blog” or “The XYZ blog.” Try to discover who wrote the article and use his name on the credit (I must admit I also slip on this point sometimes).
It might sound exaggerated, but I am pretty sure that people would be more likely to link to you if you credit them by their names.
It is a sign of respect, after all.
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19 Responses to “On The Importance of Adressing People By Their Names”
Totally agree. Now, if only all bloggers would put their names on their ABOUT page, that would help out a lot. 🙂 I find a lot of sparsely written bios with not even a first name listed on some people’s ABOUT pages.
Very true; I’m guilty of this as well. I know there are times I’d like to use the author’s name, but it’s nowhere to be found. Also, if more than one person writes for the blog, it’s doubly important to identify the author.
Good point about people not making their names easily findable. I also face this problem frequently.
Come on guys brand yourself :).
I would have thought this to be a natural. I completely agree of course…
Otto, it is not that natural.
Even in face to face conversation people tend to forget it.
When was the last time that you addressed a waiter on a restaurant or a sales person on a supermarket by their names?
Solo Business Marketing
I absolutely agree with this subject, and this same tactic is important when forming Email subject lines to get the reader’s attention. What I write is “To (person’s name), from (my name) to elevate my Email’s prominence.
Regarding the suggestion to add your name on a blog’s about or home page, I not only do that, I also encourage contact with marketing details beneath my picture, and it’s worked to sell my services.
Daniel, I totally agree too. What drives me nuts in the same sense is when people do not sign an email or correspondence with any name at all, and there is no identifying “term” to call them.
This happens a lot when a correspondence comes through a system contact, like through Amazon or eBay. When you don’t sign your name, or at LEAST your user ID, what do you expect to be called. I guess I will just say, Dear BLANK, or something a little more humorous.
I spent many years on the Internet trying to use screen names, first name but not a real last name, and so on… I finally realized that using your real name not only shows you are not some anonymous posted, but you gain respect among others as well. Anonymous is easy, anyone can do that.
Besides, if you are alive and have done anything on a computer, your name is out there anyway, you might as well use it!
Thanks for a great post.
I get a lot of enquiries from people wanting to know if I can design for them. They’ll fill in my contact form like this:
I need a brochure designed. How much will it cost?
First, I can’t quote with such little detail, but more importantly, and as you mention, the communication is so impersonal. I like to choose clients who I think would be a joy to work with. If people don’t address you by your name it’s not a great start.
Nice post, Daniel.
This is one reason that anonymous blogging frustrates me so much. How can you have a relationship with your readers, if you don’t even give them your name? It could be a fake name for all I care; just give me something to call you!
As always, such a great post, Daniel.
@Shirley, yes that is why affiliate marketers collect your name on the subscription form as well :).
@David, good point.
@Andrew yes that the other side of the coin that is really important here. In fact I think I will need to follow up the post recommending bloggers to put their names out there.
I think it is important in the first few communications between people. If there’s a steady stream of e-mail between me and someone (if I’m working on a script for them, for instance) typing anything more than “hey” or “hi” after the few couple of e-mails becomes a bit tiring after a while. Just my two cents.
Ali from TheOfficeDiet
Great points, Daniel! I always make the effort to address people by name — I think it’s a common courtesy that, sadly, gets lost all too often today.
Some of the bloggers I read use a handle or pseudonym (Crabby on Cranky Fitness, for instance) — in these cases, when I’ve emailed the blogger, I’ve used the name they go by. Generally, they then reply using their real name … the trick is to remember what it is when you correspond with them in future!
So true Daniel 🙂 Whenever I contact other bloggers, my first reaction is to find an about page and look for a real name. I realize the importance of this, and when people contact me, using my real name (which is clearly visible), I know they at least took the time to learn who they are talking to, and that adds a very important personal touch.
This is so true, Daniel. I’ve also found it to work well on follow-up emails and autoresponders.
Although I do hate it when I get something that says Hi %firstname% how are you today? 😉
Hi Daniel –
Very good post. Addressing people by name is more than just a sign of courtesy. It is also about recognition.
A recognition that you want to learn more about them. A recognition that they have made an impression on you. A recognition that you care about them.
thank you very much
This is a good article for bloggers to use people’s name to point them. Also an example is facebook maybe – now using usernames – not emails – maybe the aim is different or not but username or names are the best for addressing people 🙂
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