Sender or subjectline – what’s more important?

Many articles today cover subject line optimization. Which is good as the subject line surely is a major factor that determines the open rate of an email campaign. And variations can be easily tested. But what about the sender name – could this parameter be even more important? Still, many emails lack of an easy recognizable and meaningful from line …

What studies suggest

To shed light into this question, let’s take a quick look at the M3AAWG’s “Email Security and Awareness Report”, published back in 2010, [PDF] and Epsilon’s “Global Consumer Survey” from 2009 [PDF]:

The numbers seem to speak a clear language: First of all, recipients will look at the sender “from:”-name when checking new emails for relevancy. To be on the safe side, I additionally asked about 50 random people where they look first when opening the inbox view – sender name or subject line. The results:

Conclusions & recommendations:

  • Both, sender name and subject line, are important when it comes to deciding whether to open an email or not. Always keep that in mind when chosing your sender name and subject line.
  • As many studies already suggest, the sender name seems to be more important than the subject line when skimming through the inbox. (The Thunderbird figure #3 suggests that this behaviour is probably not due to recipients explicitly looking for the sender name, but because most mail user agents display it on the left and the subject line right from it. And in western culture, we read from left to right.)
  • Using a constant and highly recognizable sender name that has got a good reputation tied to it, is critical to success. If it lacks attention potential, there’s a great danger that the sender line also will be overlooked. Even if it is perfectly written and signals highly relevant content.
  • As some mail user agents – like Thunderbird – place the subject line on the left in standard configuration, it may also be an option to use branded subject lines. That means highlighting branding parts of the sender name also in the subject line. When doing so, it would be recommended to place them at the end of the subject line. Important content-related keywords must always go first. HUGO BOSS gives a good example of this:
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3 Responses to Sender or subjectline – what’s more important?

  1. Sender or subjectline – what’s more important?

  2. Pingback: Double opt-in – 12 setup-tips to get a maximum outcome [2/2] | E-Mail Marketing Tipps

  3. Pingback: Gmail’s new inbox: Email marketing myth busting | E-Mail Marketing Tipps

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