Does Personalization in Email Subject Lines Matter?

Posted by on Mar 22, 2011

A few months ago I was on a call and discovered that putting someone’s first name in an email subject line (i.e. personalizing the subject line) was now a no-no, as most people thought that those personalized emails were spam.

Well, I didn’t believe her.  When I see my name in an email subject line, it always attracts my attention.  So, to prove myself right, I did a little test last month.

My email marketing system permits me to do a split test of a broadcast.  I can split the broadcast into as many as 4 groups, but I decided on 2.  The only difference between the two was the personalization feature in the subject line.  One included the reader’s first name, while the other one didn’t.

My results?  The personalized version had a 3% lower open rate and 2% lower click rate that did the non-personalized subject line.  What was more surprising, though, was that a small number of the personalized group reported my broadcast as spam (my system is double opt-in, so I don’t spam anyone, but it’s still an easy (lazy) option to check in some email clients rather than unsubscribing from a list.).  No one did this in the non-personalized group.

I have to admit I was surprised.  My test results gave me a result that I didn’t expect.  I’m going to test this a few more times over the coming months to see what happens. I’ll keep you posted.

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