Personalized subject lines: do they help? by Mick Griffin @mickgriffin

With great features comes great responsibility.

Now any email marketing provider worth their salt will offer you personalization, and  it’s easier then ever before. Just a couple of clicks and you’ve personalized your email. ‘Wow, that was so simple. Can’t wait for the results,’ I hear you say. Well, think again, because if used incorrectly, this feature can sometimes do more harm than good.

Though most agree that email personalization is a good thing, there are varying views on how and when to use it. Some encourage you to personalize all your messages, no matter who you are sending it to . There are also voices warning that personalized emails may look like SPAM and end up in junk folders.

Now I am happy to offer my opinion, but it would only be words if not backed up with stats, right? That’s why GetResponse decided to perform a targeted analysis of personalized emails based on real user campaigns, then discuss the results with you.

We analyzed over 53, 000 unique messages sent form GetResponse accounts.  The results clearly show that emails with personalized subjects averaged 26% higher open rates and over 130% higher CTRs (click through rates) than emails without personalized subject lines. Pretty impressive at first glance!

Unfortunately, the same stats clearly show that email with personalized subject lines averaged 26% higher complaints and over 71% higher unsubscribe rates than emails without personalization. This time it doesn’t look as impressive. So are both viewpoints correct? I think I can provide some insight into these weird numbers.

Names catch the reader’s attention, no doubt about it. It’s clear that recipients are more likely to open and click through emails when they see their name in the subject line. They also tend to open personalized messages more often if they recognize (and trust!) the sender.

If recipients are automatically deleting emails with their name in the subject line, it’s probably because they don’t recognize the sender. Or just as bad, they might not find any interesting content in this message and decide to unsubscribe. Can you blame them? Imagine how annoying it must be to receive a message with “Dear Mick” in the subject but, absolutely nothing of interest to you in the entire message. You think someone sent it especially for you and find out it’s just another lame mass mailing. You get angry, label the message SPAM and unsubscribe from the list immediately!

You can reap the benefits of personalization AND avoid the pitfalls if you are conscientious about list hygiene and target your message content as much as possible. Use the name and/or business throughout the message, target the offers and discounts, mention previous purchases and preferences and so on. Then your recipients will know that you’re sincerely trying to give them what they need and would treat you as reliable sender.

Takeaway: Using personalization is a  powerful tool but, powerful tools must be employed correctly with skill and thoughfulness to achieve positive results.

Meet the author:

Mick Griffin

Mick Griffin

Mick is the Key Account Manager for GetResponse Email Marketing. With over 7 years of Sales and Marketing experience Mick quickly adapted to Email when joining GetResponse in 2008. Now in charge of Business Development, Mick is the primary point of contact for new and existing customers with GetResponse. He spends the majority of his time interacting with them, understanding their needs and working to see those are met. Mick is experienced in social media and still continues to be involved in that aspect of GetResponse’s business. You’ll find him posting on the GetResponse Blog. You are also likely to run into him at any number of Email marketing conferences throughout the year.

Connect with: Mick Griffin

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  • Chief eMail Officer
    February 17, 2010 at 11:57 am

    Those are great stats Mick…

    Wouild love for you to share other stats you and your clients have tested.

    Thanks.

    Jeff

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