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  1. Garry Ponus

    Hi Chris

    thanks for your blog. I’m kind of pleased about the study you quoted that putting the person’s name in the heading increases opening and click-through.

    Peep had sent out something recently suggesting that using names don’t necessarily help. As an email receiver, I actually like it when my name is in the title and elsewhere – although I acknowledge that in the future, if everyone’s doing it, I may not feel the same way. For the moment, maybe I’m just gullible but I still feel the personalisation even though I know it’s actually automated.

    Nevertheless, I accept the take-home message from this is to test. To that end, I’ve been testing the opt-in on my site with and without asking for the person’s name to see what effect it has on sign-ups. At this stage, too early to call.



    1. Chris Hexton

      Spot on Garry. It’s all about testing. Peep and I had a chat about this ;). There are hundreds of great case studies out there – some where ‘personalization’ (names) works and other times where it does not.

      Sounds like you’re all over the testing. It’d be interesting to hear how you go with your current test: both whether more people sign up and whether more people convert on the email side with / without a first name!

    2. Peep Laja Peep Laja

      It’s 2013 – most people don’t think it’s a personal email to them when the email says “Hi John” and has unsubscribe link at the bottom. Furthermore, there are a lot of people who are annoyed by this pretend-personalization ( Even if it might increase open rates in the short-term (cause people do react to their name), it can have negative effective effect in the long-run (people get pissed because it’s actually not personal at all and unsubscribe etc).

      But of course in the end you need to test this.

    3. Chris Hexton

      Nice case study Peep.

      I particularly like your point about LONG TERM thinking. That’s the most important thing (and one of the more difficult things to track) – how does this sort of campaign affect your customers over their LIFETIME.

      It’s something we are constantly focused on at Vero and I think something that the wider community is becoming properly focused on these days, thanks in part to more and more sophisticated analytics packages.

  2. Joanna

    Great post, Chris! I especially liked the fourth point about images — which is something people were talking about a few years ago, but then it seemed (at least in my world) to strangely disappear from convos about email best practices.

    To see the topic covered like this — and with screenshots of how useless an email is when images are disabled — is awesome… and especially helpful, I think, for those large retailers that are most guilty of sending image-only emails.

    1. Chris Hexton

      Thanks Joanna, lots of hard working pulling everything together but it’s super interesting stuff.

      I get A LOT of emails that are image-only so that’s what brought it front of mind :). I think the importance of sending ‘personal’ emails is back in vogue and, at least as far as I can see, people are really getting into it / embracing the discussion again!

  3. Milind

    Nice post Chris!

    I have noticed that both Neil and Ruben have the ability to write great emails!

    About images in emails, I agree testing is best and try to keep it simple. But have you tried mozify from email on acid? I thought it was cool way to show images in an email…but we are still testing it.

    1. Chris Hexton

      Milind, Neil and Ruben are pros so always a good source of inspiration :).

      Mozify from EoA is super-awesome. I haven’t used it personally but a few customers have mentioned it and I believe they’ve liked it. It’d be interesting to do a little experimentation with it myself (and report results somewhere)

  4. Quentin Aisbett

    Thanks Chris. Whilst it’s all common sense, it’s still pretty cool to see the numbers coming from the Marketing Sherpa case study.

    1. Chris Hexton

      Thanks for the kind words Quentin. It’s often nice to have something you can come back to and ‘tick through’, I always find.

  5. MickG

    Chris, thanks for sharing your insights. Here’s my checklist for writing emails:

    – Get VERY clear of core message for email before starting to write, and distil it down to one simple sentence
    – Write 5-10 quick off the top-of-the-head subject lines (with no editing .. i.e. get the subconscious into action!)
    – Draft email in plain-text editor
    – Send email to myself with 5-10 different subject lines
    – Scan inbox for subject lines that ‘pop’. Again use your non-thinking intuitive side of your brain for this.
    – Print best 2 emails (I know I know .. pretty old school.. but you see different things when you do this)
    – Read emails on paper, and edit like a mercenary (with a pen) to cut it down to the essence.
    – Write the PS (it’s the cherry on top, and as you rightly say .. super-important)
    – Rework email content, and resend 2 different versions to yourself again.
    – Click any links and make sure context and flow is maintained (from email to landing page)
    – Schedule for send (I always A/B test the subjects using a blank HTML email template that ‘looks’ like plain text (but which allows you to track open rates)

    Thanks again. You guys share and write some of the best material on conversion rates out there.


    1. Chris Hexton

      Mick, that’s a sweeeeet checklist.

      I particularly like the concept of sending yourself a few different subject lines and letting your subconcious do the deciding. I also love editing on paper (editing anything on paper feels good, though it’s not good for the trees ;).

      Thanks for sharing!

  6. Sharon Kurlansky

    Greetings, Chris,

    What’s a story without images? .. a great opportunity to punctuate & expand your email messages. (In the interest of transparency, I market illustration to image buyers : )

    PS: The actual quote is “a picture is worth 10,000 words.”

    1. Chris Hexton

      Thanks for the tip on the quote – I will never forget that ;).

      We’ve spoken before Sharon (hello again!) and I certainly didn’t mean to denounce images entirely. As long as they’re alongside text and things are tested they can yield awesome results…it’s just image-only emails that I think should be avoided.

      Plus, the images on Laughing-Stock are awesome!

  7. Nataly

    Love your post, and some great tips in the comments too!

    I always try and craft emails imagining that I’m really writing to a specific person., trying to genuinely put myself in their shoes and see their life from their perspective – what problems could they be having, how can I help? But I think everyone here knows that!

  8. Tim Gray

    Thanks Peep! I don’t know how you find the time to write such good emails on my favourite subject!


  9. Tim Gray

    Sorry Chris! Saw peeps pic on the right and presumed it was him! Great post mate.

    1. Chris Hexton

      Ha – no problems Tim. Glad you liked it! Hopefully it’s helpful :).

  10. Anika Davis

    Probably the biggest mistake you can make with your emails is overlooking the email subject line. No matter how good your content in the email is, it won’t help you if no one opens the email. A well-crafted subject line that increases your open rate is well worth your time. Thanks for this very informative post!

    1. Chris Hexton

      Thanks Anika, spot on. You have to get people reading the content or you’ll get NOWHERE.

      Sounds like you have written a subject line or two :). Thanks for the great comment!

  11. Vipul

    Thanks for the blog :-) This one is life saver.


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    I’m using the same blog platform as yours and I’m having trouble finding one?
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