Email Marketing

Email Marketing Is Like Dating

Email marketing is a bit like dating: both involve a first impression. For email, that introduction is the “From” name, the subject line, and the preheader.

I’ll address all three in this post.

From Name

The From name informs recipients of the sender. It’s sometimes called the “Friendly From” because it’s visible, unlike the sending domain.

Screenshot on mobile showing a From name in an email message

The From name informs recipients of the sender.

Subject Line

Subject lines are the most prominent text in recipients’ inboxes. Subject lines drive opens and are critical to email marketing.

Personalized subject lines — e.g., recipient’s name, past purchases, custom offers — can increase open rates by 50%, in my experience. Hence the more relevant the subject line, the better.

Creating a sense of urgency is helpful, too. Examples include “Last day to apply,” “Live webinar in 3 days,” or “Your offer expires tomorrow.” These typically perform well.

Screenshot of an email subject line on a mobile device

Subject lines are the most prominent text in recipients’ inboxes.

It’s an excellent idea to A/B test subject lines. Most email service providers facilitate such tests, with the sender selecting the winning metric: the most opens or clicks. Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection could skew the open rate test, as Apple reports all recipients on iOS devices as having opened.


  • Subject lines influence opens for 33% of recipients, per OptinMonster.
  • 69% of recipients use subject lines to decide whether to mark the message as spam, again per OptinMonster.
  • An emoji in a subject line can increase opens by 56%, according to Experian.
  • Personalized subject lines increase opens by 50%, as reported by Marketing Dive.
  • Subject lines with a sense of urgency have 22% more opens, per OptinMonster.

A good subject line makes a positive impression. For acquisition campaigns, it’s usually the very first impression as recipients are not customers and are likely unfamiliar with your brand.

Mobile email clients display 30 to 70 characters of a subject line, depending on the device. I use about 40 characters as a rule.


Preheaders can add to the subject line and are handy for extended or complicated messages.

Most email clients allow up to 100 preheader characters. Take advantage of this space with text that complements the subject.

Screenshot of an email preheader on a mobile device

Preheaders can add to the subject line and are handy for extended or complicated messages.

Preheader text is visible regardless of whether a recipient opens the email. Thus it’s a strategic opportunity to deliver a message to non-openers.

First Impressions

The time consumers spend on brands’ emails is decreasing. In 2018, per Statista, consumers spent an average of  13.4 seconds reading brands’ emails. By 2021, it was 10.0 seconds.

Hence the three initial impressions — From, subject, and preheader — are increasingly critical for engagement.

And so is brevity in my experience. So-called editorial newsletters, popular in 2022, seemingly go on forever. Recipients rarely reach the end unless it’s to unsubscribe.

In short, a good first impression is critical to dating — and email marketing. An informative and engaging subject line and preheader create an emotional connection with recipients, making them want to open the email and read the content. The result is higher engagement and more sales.

Carlos Vega
Carlos Vega
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