Mail merge?

Do you know what a mail merge variable is? I used the term the other day in an email to a coworker and they were confused. An email list attribute? A personalization string? What do you call those? What does your email platform call those? You know, the bit where you put in DEAR $FIRST_NAME, and it gets swapped out with DEAR BOB, DEAR EDNA, DEAR KATY PERRY, etc.

I call them mail merge variables, I guess. Mail merge predates the common use of internet email; I was doing it on an Epson dot matrix printer attached to an Apple //e, a hundred and fifteen years ago.

But how does this relate to deliverability? Well, at one place I worked, we had to implement a profanity filter for mail merge, because by default, the recipient's "friendly from" was the first name field submitted in the signup web form. People got...colorful...there. And they'd occasionally flip out if they received a marketing email, from a company they actually do business with, just because it said DEAR SH*THEAD on it. Geez, are people fussy, or what? Apparently, fixing that falls to the deliverability manager. So, I got to help define this functionality, and the set of words to watch out for and remove. (Special thanks to George Carlin for his assistance.)

Ah, those were the days.

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