Personalized Subject Lines In Emails: Hot Trend, Or Just Plain Annoying?

I found this blog post from AG Salesworks pretty interesting. You can read it directly, but the upshot is their data suggests an improvement in sales-led email campaigns when using a deeply personalized subject line such as: “Attention Jim: Final Follow-up” or “Re: lead generation strategies.”

In fact we were debating using this very approach in an email campaign just 2 weeks ago. Our consensus in a survey of 3 (hardly statistically accurate!) was that this approach is more annoying to us. As if the sender is trying to trick us into viewing their message. So while it works to stop me long enough to review the message, I was more annoyed and less likely to respond when I realized I had been duped.

But then again, I NEVER respond to direct email from people I don’t already know. And I do mean NEVER. If something looks interesting that I see in an email I will go research it separately and check them out in my network first. (Though I do look for good ideas on how to craft emails, or for what NOT to do!!)

Since I am fond of saying that there is no such thing as the “average” web surfer, I will expand that to include there is no such thing as the average email responder either. As a result, I can’t generalized my personal bias to serve as a proxy for the whole.

So what do you think? Do email open rates go up but conversions go down when using the construct? Are these “tricky” subject lines annoying or successful? Tell me what you think!