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May 20, 2009


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Kelly Rusk

TOTALLY agree. There's no excuse for it and really no justification for "dear colleague" it reeks of spam to me.

Eden Spodek

Hi David,
You aren't being overly harsh. I agree with you entirely. "Dear Colleague" is right up there with "Dear Blogger" - my latest pet peeve when it comes to email salutations.

John Beckley

You're not being too harsh at all. I'm fed up, not just with the salutation but generally with emails being set without permission trying to solicit business!! On principle I won't do business or swap links with anyone unless they have really looked at my site or at least found out my name.

seamus walsh

David, yesterday I received a customized snail mail piece from the Prince Edward Island Tourist Board.

When I opened it, there was an offer for a free tee shirt, I went to and clicked the link which opened up a personalized URL, it asked via click boxes what I, Seamus Walsh, wanted to do on vacation, I clicked golf and festivals, it then took me to a URL saying I was not one of the first 500 to revieve a shirt, but here is a list of the upcoming festivals as well as golf course packages I might be interested in.

It was brilliant! Granted tourism is the largest industry in PEI so they have to get it right, my point is that if a government agency gets it right, there is no excuse for the rest of us.

David Meerman Scott

Good. Glad it wasn't just me.

@Eden - Ha! I get those "Dear blogger" ones too!

Brandon Eley

I agree, it seems so impersonal, more so than just leaving off the salutation altogether.

I consider a colleague to be someone in my profession, not some company marketing to me. I consider you to be a colleague, not some industry magazine.

Colleagues are people you can shake hands with, discuss issues with, have lunch with.

Dianna Huff

I'm with Eden. The emails that begin, "Dear Blogger, I've read your blog and think you will find the following of interest," kill me. I delete them immediately.

Robert Stockham

I agree with you! Of course it is anything to get the email opened, so the company can up it's open rate. They often get me with the receipt subject, then I am ticked off. I am not these guys' colleague, customer, client, FRIEND, or ally. But, we may be asking too much, since there is still junk mail coming to my home.

Kim C.

Actually I have a different take on it. Dear Kim doesn't have any effect on me because I know it was just put in a program to run my first name. It's just another marketing ploy. I'm a marketer, I know what they are doing. So I don't care what they call me. Now the PEI thing.... that was personalized done right.

Jodi Kaplan

I agree. It's pretty awful. Either address me by name (and spell it correctly) or don't bother. Even if it is a marketing ploy, as Kim said, at least they took the time to add the extra field.

Kudos to the PEI people for getting it right.

@Robert, if you're in the US, you can cut down on the junk mail by signing up for The DMA's mail preference service.


Dear Faceless Customer,

You don't know us, and we certainly haven't taken the time to get to know you, but would you kindly allow us access to your pocket book?

Stuart Foster

If they don't know your name...then they shouldn't be emailing or calling you in the first place. Do some background...it's not exactly like you are hard to find.

Mary Cullen

You're right. Salutations matter. We really can lose a reader at "hello."

Dear Blogger, Dear Colleague, Dear Customer..., are all lazy and set the tone that the communication is about the writer, not the reader. (Dear Colleague is a fine salutation, if they really are your colleague.)

I've written about group salutations here: http://blog.instructionalsolutions.com/2009/02/17/business-email-salutations-to-a-group/. Hope this helps with suggestions.

Paul Peixoto

Dear Colleague,

It has come to our attention that you would be the perfect guest for our next Webinar on sleep deprivation, to be held next Thursday at 2am EST.

p.s. you’re right on target, Daniel.

Charles Neville

The title of this piece immediately brought to mind this South Park clip: http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/165191 :)

John R. Sedivy

I'm right there with you. I delete any e-mail with "boilerplate" greetings. If you cannot take the time to write my name in the message I will not take the time to read your message.


I just got a copy of http://ePostMailer.com and I would recommend to anyone who needs to send out an opt-in email mailshot. Its the best free desktop based email marketing software I have used so far.

Karen Andrus

Less is more. Connect with people you really have a connection with. It will be more fruitful and you will have the intel to personalize your personal message.

Doug Burr

They could at least use an entertaining salutation.
"Dear Comrade"
"Dear Brother From Another Mother"
"Dear Meat Popsicle" ("5th Element" reference)

Sure, it may seem unprofessional; but at least you'd catch my attention for a brief instant. I'll probably ignore your unsolicited message anyway, so why not take a chance? At least you'd make me laugh.

John Bagnall

Sorry to take a contrary view, but I think you're indeed being over-harsh. And over-simplistic.

For sure, 'Dear Colleague' is a touch cloying and risks being perceived as patronising. But at least it's a salutation.

Getting emails without one is tantamount to being shouted at by a stranger with a megaphone, while being greeted 'Dear John' by someone I don't know from Adam is an invasion of my privacy...

So ... the author of the junk mail that begins 'Dear Colleague' is at least a bit more in touch with my (customer's) sensibilities than some who think that using my name somehow makes their irrelevant mailshot any less irrelevant than it was in the first place.

Joanna Lund

No, David, you are absolutely right. It's an obsequious address used to get people 'on-side' by assuming a level of familiarity that does not exist. We chose whom we call our 'friends' and our 'colleagues' carefully in life and I react equally strongly to any presumption. But, hey. I thought that was because I'm a buttoned-up Englishwoman! Obviously not. So thanks for the reassurance!!

David Meerman Scott

Thanks John. I have been waiting for a different view.

Richard Reeve

Hi David,
Those emails always imply to me that the sender thinks I might be one of imbeciles that can be conned into buying whatever form of manure they are serving up. It seems someone should be able to develop email plugins that could delete all the junk for us, doesn't it?


Glad to see there's another grumpy old guy out there. I'm with you. With this internet business making mass communication so easy, there needs to be at least some attempt to personalize messages. "Dear Colleague" is just lazy.

Your colleague,

Lisa Pecunia

I completely agree, although even more annoying for me is "Dear Sir." Ahem!


Totally agree; if you're going to be annoying, at least be personal and specific...and David as far as lack of sleep - sometimes that breeds the best forms of honest thinking!

Cederrck Ashley

I don't think you are being too harsh at all. Most people like to be mentioned by name and you are appearanlty no different. Gettting an email without your name on it makes me wonder if the email I'm reading went out to anyone else besides me.

Penny Haywood Calder

At least colleague is genderless so there's less chance of getting it wrong. I've lost count of the number of offers to improve my non-existent thingi.
I'd rather have no salutation, so that's one micro-second less thought time involved in hitting the delete button.

Penny Haywood Calder

Michael Benidt

Frankly, I'm so fed up with email spam, Twitter Spam, LinkedIn fake "Discussions" and Facebook "Hawkers and Sellers" that I can hardly see straight anymore.

Rebecca Morgan from SpeakerNetNews had a hilarious bit a couple of weeks ago, which I cannot tell any better, so I'm quoting her exactly:

"I received an unsolicited ezine from a colleague the other day, which I consider spam. When I hit “reply” as directed to unsubscribe, I got an “I’m protecting myself from spam” message requiring me to enter my email address and the reason I was writing. It was salt in the wound for someone who sent me spam to require I register with them to get removed from their spam because they were protecting themselves from spam!"


Ryan Pulkrabek

Your post reminded me of a South Park episode: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-5uzJVkeaUI.

"Dear Colleague" is lazy, especially when I'm not your "colleague." Besides, I can't think of any situation in which I would appreciate my colleague addressing me with a, "Hi, Colleague." Please. Treat email like you would treat a personal conversation. "Hi, Ryan" will do.

Janet Robles

I'm late to comment, but count me among those who are as harsh, if not worse. Hate the boilerplate, overly-familar, cheesy greeting. I'd prefer the sender skip the salutation altogether rather than force a comment frame of reference that just isn't there.

David Spark

I hate fake personalization. I'd be perfectly happy if all my PR emails just said:


Here's our latest company news...

And that's it.

I had a similar experience.

Read: "If you're going to be fake, try not to announce it" http://bit.ly/frra9B

Wendy Ewurum

Yes David, I think it fits my definition of spam (anything you don't recognised and doesn't recognise you). So definitely deserving of a zap. Even retailers get it right to send you marketing emails which are addressed to you personally these days for goodness sake...and that's another sore spam point in our lives, as if we don't have enough to deal with. We're drowning in useless information.

mill pond golf course

Nice one, David! This one cracked me up so hard. I have read these emails and yes, spammers are using every trick in the book to get our attention and compassion. Little did they know, it is kind of annoying at our end.

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