The Most Important Line of Copy in You Email Marketing

“A good advertising man is a first-class pragmatist. If he has any basic theorem at all, it is that most advertising is an intrusion upon the time and attention of people; a justifiable one but an intrusion nonetheless. The reader has bought the magazine for something other than the ads. Therefore the copywriters undertake to stop him in spite of himself.”  – Albert Lynd

According to a survey by an Internet-services provider, Double Click, “The ‘from’ line is far and away the number one piece of information people use to determine whether they’ll open an e-mail.”

Sixty percent of 1,000 survey respondents who use e-mail at least weekly cited the “from” line as the primary motivator to opening an e-mail. “The ever-increasing onslaught of spam, along with the threat of viruses and the occasional unwelcome surprise of pornographic photos, is apparently taking its toll,” said the Newsletter on Newsletters in an article on this subject.

What, then, does one make of this?

First, if your customers know you by name (and they like you), use your name in the “from” line. If the name of your business is known to them (and they like you), use that. If they don’t know you well (or at all), consider using your name — either your full name or your first name only — and test that against other alternatives (such as variations of your business name).

I will never delete a message addressed to me from a first name unless I can determine by the subject box that it is from someone I don’t know. Thus, a first name will always get at least a few seconds of my attention — always enough at least to get me to the subject line.

There are all sorts of theories about what best works in a subject line. Many experts argue for something beneficial or intriguing. My personal preference is to put something in there that indicates that the recipient knows you, something that touches on the relationship in a seemingly urgent or important way.

My favorite example: “Rita” in the “from” line and “Don’t I know you?” in the subject line. How can you resist that?

[Ed. Note.  Mark Morgan Ford was the creator of Early To Rise. In 2011, Mark retired from ETR and now writes the Palm Beach Letter. His advice, in our opinion, continues to get better and better with every essay, particularly in the controversial ones we have shared today. We encourage you to read everything you can that has been written by Mark.]