Name Similarity Encourages Generosity: A Field Experiment in Email Personalization

54 Pages Posted: 14 Sep 2018

See all articles by Kurt Munz

Kurt Munz

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing

Minah Jung

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing

Adam Alter

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing

Date Written: August 1, 2018

Abstract

In a randomized field experiment with the education charitable giving platform DonorsChoose.org (N = 30,297), we examined email personalization using a potential donor’s name. We quantified the effectiveness of matching potential donors to specific teachers in need based on surname, surname initial letters, gender, ethnicity, and surname country of origin. Full surname matching was most effective, with potential donors being more likely to open an email, click on a link in the email, and make a donation to a teacher who shared their own surname. They also donated more money overall. Our results suggest that uniting people with shared names is an effective individual-level approach to email personalization, even when name-matching is transparently designed to promote generosity. Potential donors who shared a surname first letter but not an entire name with teachers also behaved more generously. We discuss how using a person’s name in marketing communications may gain consumers’ attention and reduce the social distance between them and a name-matched entity. This process may benefit the firm when consumers’ existing attitudes toward the entity are favorable, but may backfire when consumers would prefer not to be associated with it.

Keywords: field experiment, charitable giving, individual targeting, personalization, one-to-one marketing

Suggested Citation

Munz, Kurt and Jung, Minah and Alter, Adam, Name Similarity Encourages Generosity: A Field Experiment in Email Personalization (August 1, 2018). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3244125 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3244125

Kurt Munz (Contact Author)

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing ( email )

44 W 4 St.
Tisch Hall 822
New York, NY
United States

Minah Jung

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing ( email )

Henry Kaufman Ctr
44 W 4 St.
New York, NY
United States

Adam Alter

New York University (NYU) - Department of Marketing ( email )

Henry Kaufman Ctr
44 W 4 St.
New York, NY
United States

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