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Does email personalization in the pre-header matter?

Posted by Kim Schick on August 5, 2015

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Personalization is a tactic that has truly evolved in email marketing. Most companies have access to useful data that can be included in digital communications to personalize content. Email personalization is effective for many reasons: increasing relevancy, showing authentication and influencing transaction recall and/or motivation.

At Jacobs & Clevenger, email personalization is a constant occurrence and best practice. However, we wanted to take email personalization one step further by testing it in the pre-header of an email. The pre-header is a critical component to the success of an email campaign because it is the first message viewers read after the subject line, and in many cases it renders in the inbox preview on desktop and mobile.

Due to the impact a pre-header can have on an email, it was an excellent choice to test if personalization can be applied to it and increase the email campaign performance. Here is an overview of the email personalization pre-header test that was conducted and the insights that were gained.

The Email Personalization A/B Test

The A/B test was sent to approximately 15,000 subscribers belonging to various financial institutions. Half of the subscribers were sent an email without personalization in the pre-header and half were sent the same email with personalization in the pre-header. Personalization was applied to the email communication by including subscribers, first and last name in addition to the last four digits of their account number.

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The Results of Our Email Personalization Tactic

The test indicated that adding elements of email personalization significantly increased the open rate. Receivers without personalization in the pre-header had a strong open rate of 45.90%, while receivers with personalization in the pre-header had an open rate of 48.27%. The results show a 5.17% lift in open rate when email personalization is applied to the pre-header.
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For this case, the open rate was the only metric with a statistically significant result. Traditionally the subject line and “friendly from” are the two variables that can impact the open rate. However, most mobile devices include pre-headers in the app before a reader opens. Also, Outlook, Gmail and other email clients have preview capabilities that users can control with their preference settings.

The bottom line is to increase conversions. While this A/B test did not prove to be successful with increasing clicks and conversions, over time the increased relevancy delivered to the customer in conjunction with authenticating the business could improve customer lifetime value.

Key Takeaways of Our Email Personalization Test

Sign up now for your FREE email marketing assessment. Customers desire relevancy. If you can increase confirmation to customers with a message that is relevant specifically to them then they will be more enticed to be responsive. The customers in the A/B test were provided with details that were familiar to them. Utilizing personalization in the beginning of a message will prove the point of relevancy faster. Try to apply personalization to the subject line, pre-header, headline or introduction copy.

This test certainly proved that customers are viewing the pre-header in the email before. This indicates that optimizing the pre-header can be directly related to improving the open rate of an email. Don’t stop testing the pre-header. The sweet spot may have been found – but it’s only temporary. It’s a natural occurrence for performance to decline if there is not an indicator of change. Therefore, building a testing schedule and ensuring that the pre-header is high in the schedule’s rotation can increase performance.

What’s Next for Email Personalization?

Use this knowledge to develop new ways to apply relevancy through email personalization. If you can capture data specific to customer behavior then you will have a great deal of options to apply personalization. For example, include the last login date or how long it has been since they have purchased. Any sign of recall can be a trigger to customers and remind them that your service or product is useful and important to them.

At Jacobs & Clevenger, we send almost 10 million emails each year for our clients. That’s why we’re such strong advocates of optimizing success of email marketing campaign performance. We strongly suggest a strategic approach to optimize email performance and take email marketing efforts to a more effective level. Take our free email marketing assessment to discover how to improve email effectiveness.

Topics: Email Marketing

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