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Sure Fire Way to Avoid Email Open Rate Disasters

Those fancy email systems are pretty cool. You know the ones we're talking about: they allow you to magically insert your customer's first name in the subject of the email and in the first line of the email?

Subject: "John this is a great offer"
Body: "Hi John, ... "

Let's ask a question.... What is your opinion about this type of personalization? When you see your name in the subject of an email do you automatically think its spam?

Please cast your vote on Twitter by tweeting out either of these messages:
"I vote that my name in an Email Subject is spam @jwebag"
"I vote that my name in an Email Subject is NOT spam @jwebag"

You could also cast your vote by writing on our FB wall at

Please cast your vote before reading the rest of this Daily Gold Nugget.

Please, don't make us beg... this is what being social, and using a social network, is all about...



Now that you've voted (right?) let's continue with some interesting studies. Those paid email companies always provide a way to personalize the footer of the email. That's where you put the disclaimer message that says "This email was sent to %%emailaddress%% blah blah blah..."

Each system uses a different method of encoding variable names. The example above shows a variable name "emailaddress" surrounded by double percents signs %%. Some systems might use {emailaddress} and some could use [emailaddress]; it all depends on what language the programmers built the system with.

Using the example above you would create your email message with this type of setup:

Subject: %%firstname%% this is a great offer
Body: Hi %%firstname%%,

When the email is sent the first name would be pulled from the customer database and inserted where the "firstname" variable is.

IMPORTANT: If you use this approach make sure you have correct capitalization on all the names in your database. Nothing is more easily realized as spam then when you see "john" instead of "John." Maybe John was lazy and didn't capitalize his name when signing up for your email list, but that doesn't alleviate you from the responsibility of properly capitalizing his name, especially when you hope to sell him something.

More than a few years back, when this personalization became commonplace, the paid spamming companies immediately started using it. What better way to get someone to open an email than to have their name in the subject? It was like magic!

So what is your feeling about having your name in the subject? If you voted that it was spam you would be in agreement with more than 95% of current statistics. has 8 years of email research on their website.

Here's their data for 2010
Subject Line Personalized: 6.7% open rates
Subject Line Not Personalized: 11.8% open rates

Here's their data for 2011
Subject Line Personalized: 4.1% open rates
Subject Line Not Personalized: 11.4% open rates

The email open rates have been dropping steadily for several years in a row as people become more savvy to the scams of spamming companies.

These stats are only for the "subject" line of your email, they do not reflect personalization in the body of your email. According to another set of data, you can actually increase your open rates to above 12% if you personalize the email message and not the subject.

The Gold in today's Nugget is never include a name in the subject line of your emails, otherwise your email open rates will plummet.
AT: 08/23/2011 12:18:14 PM   LINK TO THIS GOLD NUGGET
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