Do open rates matter?

Deidre RienzoMy recent newsletter had one of my lowest open rates yet. But its subject line — Tired of Waiting for Copy? — was also the most targeted to my ideal audience.

From talking to my current clients—I know that my ideal clients are the designers who are, in fact, tired of waiting for copy from their clients. This time, instead of trying to craft the most appealing subject line—I chose the most specific.

I used to give a lot of weight to open rates. But maybe they don’t matter so much? Here’s what I mean:

If your subject line is targeted to your ideal prospects, it means only serious prospects are opening your email. The ones who were only opening it—because it was catchy—aren’t.

Though I may keep in touch with many designers—only some of these designers need the help of someone like me. Only some of them are “tired of waiting for copy.”

The goal of a newsletter list is to keep in touch with your best prospects. Right? Maybe, those who open your most targeted mailings—are essentially raising their hands and saying, “I’m your best prospect!”

Maybe sending the most specific subject line possible—is the best indicator of who your best prospects are?

The question remains: Can the content of a newsletter with a catchy subject line (that draws not-so-ideal prospects to open) convince these people they need my help too? Perhaps. I’m not sure.

Which approach do you think is better? Here are some “fun” vs. “specific” subject lines from my past mailings:

More “fun” subject lines with slightly higher open rates

Have you spoken to Alex lately?

My obsession with big buns

Would you trust this man?

Honey, coffee and cheese: tasty or nasty?

Officer, I’m not playing it safe

More specific subject lines with slightly lower open rates

Tired of waiting for copy?

Stinky copy? 9 ways to tell your client


What’s better? Specific or fun?


Do you think open rates matter?