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How Knak Does Email: Personalized Subject Lines

Like all good email marketers, we’re always working to improve our key metrics. When we send our newsletter every month, we A/B test something – we’ve tested emojis, send time, sender, etc – and we use the results to drive our strategy. 

Recently, we’ve been A/B testing subject line personalization. Email personalization is nothing new – it’s a very effective way to boost open rates – so we tested it out with our summer newsletters and we’re sharing the results. 

Personalized vs Non-Personalized Email Subject Lines

We tested adding the name of the recipient’s company to the subject line of our newsletters. So if you work at Smith Enterprises, you would have received a subject line like this: 

How Trendy is Smith Enterprises?

If we don’t have your business email address, you would have gotten a generic subject line like this: 

How Trendy Are You?

This was the subject line for Knak’s June newsletter, and as you can see, the personalized version outperformed the generic version by 53%. 

The results of the July test were a little closer, but the personalized version still outperformed the non-personalized one by 25%. 

How to Personalize Email Subject Lines

Personalizing subject lines in your Knak emails is simple. 

If you’re a Marketo user: 

Choose the correct token from the library

Type the subject line in with the token 

If you’re a Pardot user: 

Choose the %%company%% variable tab

Type in the subject line

If you’re an Eloqua user: 

Click Field Merge in the email editor

Type in the field merge you want to include in the Field Merge Browser 

Email Personalization Best Practices

If you’re personalizing subject lines, keep these in mind: 

✔️ Test, test, test – Test which type of personalization works the best. Before we put company names in our SLs, we tried personalizing the sender by sending our newsletters from a specific person within Knak. We didn’t get the results we were looking for, so we moved on. 

✔️ Stick with one personalized item – No need to include everything you know about your subscribers. Personalize one thing and leave it at that.

✔️ Write good preview text – If you’ve personalized the SL, make sure your preview text complements it. Keep it brief, and use it as a natural continuation of the conversation you’re starting with the SL.

🚫 Don’t be repetitive – If every email you send has the recipient’s name in it, pretty soon they’re not going to notice it. Use email personalization strategically, and mix it up – try name, location, purchase history, etc. 

🚫 Don’t guess – If you’re going to personalize a subject line, don’t hit “send” until you’re sure you actually have the correct name. SLs with “[First name], Check Out This Offer” or “   , Look at This!” do more harm than good. Make sure your list is accurate, and double check the default settings in your marketing automation platform so anyone with incomplete information will receive a generic version. 

Tania Blake is Knak’s Marketing Manager, where she’s known for her strong attention to detail and unique ability to balance "process" with "getting stuff done". When she’s not juggling a million and one projects, you can find her cooking up a storm, doing yoga, or hanging out with her family.

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