I have just received an email from a company I have never heard of starting with 'Dear friend.' If I was really your friend, I would have thought you would know my first name.
I am a massive fan of email marketing both as a recipient and as an internet marketing specialist.
As a a recipient, I like to receive regular emails (from companies I have opted in to receive regular emails from) with news, offers and information that is relevant to me. There are companies I really rate and have known for years like First Direct, Google & Amazon, but I wouldn't consider them as friends. So it is bizarre for a company I don't even know to call me their friend. It is a false and crass attempt at personalisation.
When done properly, smart personalisation can achieve great results. As an email marketing specialist I see that appropriate personalisation e.g. using someone's first name enhances performance. Results get even better when linked with advanced email systems that use dynamic content where parts of the email content (images or copy) may change depending on the recipients data. For example, the opening paragraph may change depending on:
Advanced email marketing is a great tool to signifcantly improve business results. But use it wisely!