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Email personalisation requires more than just a name-check

6th Aug 2015
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Research in March from Conlumino and Webloyalty stated top retailers are missing out on up to £66 million a year in lost revenue by failing to deliver better personalised experiences.

The response from retailers, according to Adestra, who have studied over 3 billion emails from over 125,000 individual email campaigns to compile their 2015 Subject Line Analysis Report, has been to send more personalised emails addressing people by name in subject lines.

However, this concept may be flawed. Adestra’s research suggests personalising subject lines actually has a negative effect on open and click-through rates for emails, and that more focus and attention should be given to understanding the products and promotions that are most likely to attract click throughs.

The promotional piece appears to be key: the research shows that many sales are driven by specific percentage discounts to highly relevant products, which have a substantial effect on both open and click rates.

However, when the discount gets larger, the open rate is less reliably improved. ‘15% off’ only boosts click-throughs by 4%, yet cuts unsubscribes by 32%; whereas 50% off boosts click-throughs to 33%, yet only reduces unsubscribes by 13%. The explanation is that consumers simply don’t believe large discounts are real.

Away from retail, semantics are key for subject lines. In B2B, for instance, words such as ‘bulletin’ (-260%) and ‘interview’ (-98%) perform well, substantially reducing unsubscribers, but ‘iPad’ (+60%) and ‘discount’ (+40%) are to be avoided.  

In media, unsurprisingly, the word ‘breaking’ enjoys a +35% lift in open rates and +66% for click-throughs.

When selling subscriptions, the data shows that offers don’t work every time. A term such as ‘25% off’ can harm open and clicks, but in contrast, ‘On Sale Now’ can generate a 50% better response. 

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