{$firstname}? In the Subject Line? Nah…

The old-time copywriting secrets you need to know to write a great sales letter

Mr Maslen in his new Drum column went through the anatomy of a sales letter/email he wrote to boost Drum subscriptions.  A line by line dissection.  And very good it is too. 167 shares no less, last time I looked. That’s a link to it above.

Just the one point I can’t agree with. The first point.

Andy says, “Using a recipient’s first name at the start of the subject line is proven to increase open rates. I’ve run so many tests on my own newsletter that confirm it that I no longer bother.”

And he goes on to say, “The reason it works is because a person’s first name is the single most salient word in the English language. Call it out in a crowded party (or awards ceremony) and I guarantee your target will look round.

The whole question is a trick. It appears to be a closed question, requiring a yes/no answer.

But you can’t give a truthful answer unless you know what the person profile says.

That requires you to open the email.

It also suggests that the sender has profiled the recipient. That appeals to people’s vanity.”

Logical enough in the context of his list. But I think he should do some more testing. Testing on a list that doesn’t comprise of Andy Maslen fan boys and girls.

I’ll tell you why.

Despite the received wisdom that your Subject Line is THE deciding factor in whether your mail gets read – it isn’t.

You are.

It’s the FROM address that we all scan first. And it’s the trust your recipient has in your FROM address that plays the biggest role in whether the mail is opened or not.

And talking of trust… referring to the recipient by first name in the subject line smacks of Marketing Automation – I think people are wise to {$firstname} – it feels like it’s trying too hard. Here I agree with Andy it does feel like the sender has profiled me. It also feels like they’ve processed me. If feels salesy. I don’t trust salesy. Who does?

So… when I don’t recognise/trust the sender – that feeling of being sold to gets in the way. Email. Bin. Largely irrespective of the subject line. One or two may slip through, not many though.

But when I do recognise/trust the sender I’m usually prepared to look beyond the salesyness. To forgive it. And despite {$firstname} and because of the trust in the sender, I’ll read on.

Make sense?



No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.