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Do subject lines matter anymore?

CJ Chilvers
CJ Chilvers
1 min read

Yes, but as not much as you’d think from all the advice out there.

I see way too many marketers fretting over subject lines that make a 1-2% difference in open rates, when they miss the bigger, more obvious part of an email that can make a 50%+ (these are real-world numbers I see, by the way).

I’ve written about this before, but with every wave of email apps and email service updates, it becomes more true.

Focus on the From line.

Companies who spam (or bacon) customers, dilute the trust and authority of their From line everyday. They rely on the tiny 2% jump in opens they get from a better subject line. It’s all they have left to work with.

Meanwhile, that same company can send out a direct email from a sales rep or the CEO and get a 50% spike. Why? Because it must be more important or valuable or timely. It’s from a real person.

If all this seems obvious to you, it should. But it doesn’t stop the dilution.

The answer, as always, is re-establishing relationships with the customer, providing value, and being decent. All of those things will get you long-term, die-hard customers.

But in a climate where each quarter’s numbers are the CEO’s scorecard for their next job, long-term focus isn’t often a thing. Thus, we live with spam and bacon, for as long as they bring short-term gains. The good news for everyone: those short-term gains decrease every year.