Claiming that an email is "personal" when it's directed to an entire list of subscribers is the latter, in my opinion.
I have gotten a ton of emails in the past 6 months or so that have subject lines saying "Personal from Joe Blow" or "Paul... It's personal" or the like. I got to where I'd file them and look at them in batches, since exactly none had actually been one-to-one emails in a very long time.
Today I went through those (being reminded by the arrival of yet another one that was a lie), and discovered that I had finally - after months of this - gotten a "Personal from ..." note that was directed to me, and not someone's entire list.
I had ignored that email from a friend for weeks. And it was actually about something significant.
I understand the thinking. You believe that people will open emails they think are personally written to them, and believe this will help your clickthrough rates as well.
You win. In the future, in order to avoid being rude to my friends, I am going to open every single email that comes in with that kind of subject line.
If it's NOT truly a personal email, I'm going to share it (no links), and my opinion on the tactic, with a few thousand of my closest personal friends.
I won't buy what you're selling, but I will give you some publicity. You get to decide whether you think it's the kind that you want.
Note that I'm not talking about emails with subjects like, "Some personal thoughts," or, "Kind of personal," if the contents actually fit the subject. That's reasonable.
Yes, I am quite aware that the "marketers" doing this can claim that they don't really expect all those people with whom they've never conversed to believe it's a one-to-one email. I also know they count on the possibility that some will think that, or that the recipient will reflexively open anything that says it's personal.
They're betting on the success of a deliberate lie. I'm going to make an effort to change the odds on them.
I was rude to a friend. That makes it personal.