Ask A Strategist: How to Get Buy-In from Your Boss to Test Subject Lines

Vivian Swertinski

As the Strategic Services Manager at Informz, I often find myself hearing the same questions asked repeatedly from clients in all different industries, so I’d like to introduce our newest series on the blog: Ask A Strategist!

This post is addressing a question I’ve heard a lot lately, especially with the release of our newest subject line resource.

I’d love to test my email subject lines, but my boss would never go for it. He is pretty firm on a consistent format for every subject line we put out there. How do I convince him that testing is a best practice and could lead to better results for our company’s emails?

Like most marketers, this person knows that testing is a best practice. I’ve heard from several marketers that say they can’t convince their boss that subject line testing is important. These marketers want to test out some of their creative ideas, but the barriers to testing are coming from within the organization.

So, why would someone NOT want to test?

For some, the reason may be fear of the unknown. It could be the mentality of – don’t mess with something that isn’t broken. Hey, the open rate could go up, but it also could go down. Let’s leave well enough alone.   

For others, it may be an allegiance to keeping things the same. This person may value consistency and tradition. Our newsletter has always had the subject line of XYZ, why would we want to change it?

How do you convince a boss to let you experiment with subject line testing?

Focus on the unengaged

How many subscribers have not opened an email from you in the past 60 days? Persistent non-openers are an ideal target group for email testing. There is low-risk testing with this audience since they aren’t opening anyway.

Turn it into a re-engagement project

Testing different email elements to see what resonates with disengaged subscribers is a win-win scenario. The testing will result in an increase in the number of engaged subscribers. This will make you and your boss the heroes!

A couple of years ago I worked with an executive director on a program to win back lapsed members. Since it was a new program and had high revenue expectations, we needed to get all the email elements right. Testing enabled us to identify the best friendly from, subject line, and content. We put the email together using the winning elements and within 45 days of sending the email, 800 lapsed members came back to the organization.

The executive director had a few afterthoughts to say about testing.

Everything we learned was intriguing. Personalization in the subject line brought higher open rates. Having the message come from a person (our membership chair) rather than a company really boosted opens and clicks. I had thought a shorter, snappier letter would garner more clicks. I found the longer letter drew a better outcome.

Sometimes we get stuck in the same old way of saying something or sending something. Implementing just a small tweak or a different turn of the phrase can make a huge difference.

Those are my thoughts, I hope they can help you convince your manager of the importance of subject line testing. If you have personal experience with this challenge or have ideas that could help, please use this post as a forum to help these marketers.

And if you’ve been looking to get your burning marketing questions answered, leave your ideas for a future post below in the comments!

Haven’t check out our latest subject line guide? *Gasp!* Find tips for getting your emails opened here.

subject line testing

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About the Author
Vivian Swertinski

As the Strategic Services Manager at Informz, Vivian partners with clients to maximize their digital marketing efforts with customized strategies leveraging the Informz marketing automation platform. Outside of work Vivian enjoys shopping, boating and volunteering her time to help disabled individuals in the community.