Will adding the prospect's company name to subject lines improve open rates?

Posted November 5, 2019

Personalization is Key

How many times have you received a piece of mail addressed to “Current Resident”? And how many times have you thrown that letter or catalog straight into the recycling bin?

As sales professionals know: personalization always wins. When something doesn’t feel intended for us, we overlook it or ignore it completely.

But what level of personalization matters, and for what channels? Personalizing a call is relatively easy: “Hi Amanda, this is Sunny calling from Outreach…” but what about an email? Best practice is always to include the prospect’s first name in the body of the email, but would further personalization make a significant difference?

A/B Test Measured Subject Line Personalization and Open Rates

We ran an A/B test to see if adding the prospect’s company name in the email subject line would lead to higher open rates. We expected that adding in further personalization would increase open rates, but we didn’t expect to see this level of improvement.

The Result: 22% Increase in Open Rate

Our test results showed a 22% improvement in open rates--and all for a simple change that takes seconds to apply!

  • The winning email subject line read: "Missing the mark at [company name]?" and had an open rate of 33.6%.
  • The subject line without the company name read: "Missing the mark?" and had an open rate of 27.6%.

The Methodology

First, we decided to run this A/B test on our most commonly used Sequences because we didn’t want to apply it to a one-off or single event Sequence and have it come across as gimmicky or off-brand.

Second, we only applied the change to one email per Sequence so we could measure the open rate per email, as well as limit any effects on the rest of the Sequence steps.

Third, we only changed the subject line to the first email in the Sequence, rather than an email that fell in the middle or later in the Sequence. Why? We’ve found that our reps get the most out of the first email they ever send a prospect, so we wanted to make sure it counted.

In total, our test consisted of 2,000 emails, with one half of the email subject lines modified to include the company name, and the other half without the company name. While open rates aren’t the only metric for success, our test results showed that personalization can make a difference in whether your email catches your prospect’s eye enough to open your email and engage with your content.


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