First-name subject line personalization is so 2008. In fact, inserting subscribers' first names into the subject lines for marketing emails has become so common, so abused, and so non-strategically used over the years that its general effectiveness is questionable.
While it can still yield results when used prudently, what's clear is that subject line personalization has moved beyond simple first-name personalization. At this point, knowing a subscriber's name is just not very impressive, and not a convincing indicator that the content of the email is personalized and targeted.
Subject line personalization has to go deeper and demonstrate a more meaningful understanding of the subscriber. Our 100 Inspiring Subject Lines includes some great examples of deeper subject line personalization in action:
For me, this was the subject line that really signaled the shifting tide in subject line personalization. Sure, it included my name, but it then immediately followed up with a data point that was particular to me-or more accurately, my connections. But not only did this subject line contain two pieces of personalization, but the email was extremely successful in following through on the personalized subject line since the body of the email contained the pictures of a portion of my connections that had changed jobs during 2010.
As I said earlier, knowing a subscriber's name is not all that telling anymore. However, if you know the name of a subscriber's wife or kids or, in this case, dog then that's got more credibility. So when thinking about first-name personalization, think beyond just your subscriber's name.
In terms of what's personal, "my money" is pretty high on most people's lists. Looking to tap into this feeling, Kiva includes members' account balances in this subject line. Some recipients might immediately recognize that's what this dollar amount is, while others will perhaps be intrigued by the lack of context around the figure. Either way, the email follows up on the subject line with appeal to put their account balance to work making microloans.
Similar to the Kiva example, this subject line from Moosejaw lets me know that I have money available to me-although in this case it's to spend, not loan out. Rather than being mysterious, this subject line is very upfront about what the money is and what they want me to do with it. The messaging in the body of the email is also very direct. Directness like this usually pays off.
I hope these examples inspire you to look for your own subject line personalization opportunities, and that 100 Inspiring Subject Lines gives many other ideas for effective subject lines.