So this past week there was some internal discussion at Eloqua and on some of the industry lists asking the question, "Does having the company's brand name sending the email or the first name of recipient of the email in the subject line hurt or help opens". The discussions and "evidence" were ramped from all sides where some people showed improvement in email opens and other debated that doing such is a sign of spammers.
This of course had me wondering how the average user of email would view these ideas. So, time to ask the wife who is always right.
Here is her response (BTW, I am in the EU for a few weeks)
I'm sensing a trend. You travel, then I get an assignment. (Better get me a good souvenir!)
Here's my response to today's question: How do you feel about personalized email? Stick with me for a minute…
When I first meet someone, I call them ma'am or sir. I use phrases like "excuse me," and if I can't get their attention, I might venture as far as a gentle tap on the arm. Calling someone by their first name is something that seems inherently personal to me, and I think it should be reserved for the building of a relationship, not just a passing encounter. For example, I don't like when I go to a restaurant with someone and they call the waiter/waitress by their first name. They're virtually strangers to one another, and it's only the name tag that gives their first name away. It seems assuming and insincere, if a quick interaction during lunch at Chili's can be looked at like that. (I know, I know. You're totally shaking your head at me right now. You know you do that, right?) Well, I'd say that's how I look at personalized emails. My name was picked from a list. The sender of the email doesn't know me. They don't know my preferences, my family, my habits. It feels like the sender is trying to fake a personal connection with me. It's not until we've established a relationship, either as a friend or colleague or customer, that I'd actually feel genuinely comfortable with someone calling me by my first name. Now, I'm certain that I could come up with worse offenses than this, but you gave me a specific topic. In keeping with that, here's the short answer. I don't care for personalized emails, but it wouldn't top my "complaints about email" list.
That's it for now.
xoxo – wife
PS – My friends and family don't ever write my name in the subject line. Marketers know that an email that contains my own name in the subject line is a red flag (junk mail alert!) to me, right?
Now I haven't had much time to chat with my wife this week on this subject, but what I would like to point out to her is that many email lists or companies she's deals with probably do have preferences on her. Now the question is are they using them? Probably not as well as they should be or is it possible that she doesn't fill out the entire form or preferences?
As she pointed out, I do call people by the first name in restaurants or stores, I'm guilty, but if they are wearing that name tag then obviously they want me to say hey Dave vs. sir (which I hate when kids call me that these days). I also believe this is a difference in the person's wants as well. I, as many of you know me, am by NO means shy… My wife is a little more reserved. So maybe that alone is a determiner in whether it's a good thing or not to be personal RIGHT out of the gate.
My opinion? Using personalization in the subject line when properly done can't hurt you in delivery, but if your already using the FROM with branding maybe you don't need it in the SUBJECT line if your company brand is strong and known. If your a small brand or need some strength, then try out the subject line.
You should also consider the amount of subject line real-estate you have to give to this if you want to do it and DO NOT EVER use the email address in the subject line as a personalization if your DO NOT have the recipients first name. Spammers do that…
If your looking at answer the same question, try some A-B split testing. Try some emails with personalization in the SUBJECT and some without. See where your brand and customers stand when it comes to that. Then give them what they want.
I should go through my wife's Inbox when I get home just to see how many emails contain a personalization in the subject line.
Don't Just Send, Deliver!