Marketing messages with personalized subject lines usually fail to impress DJ Waldow. "[Most] of those emails use my first name as the 'hook' to get me to open," he writes in a recent post at the Email Experience Council blog. "This never works for me. Never. I know it's fake. I know it's not genuine. I know it's a 'mail merge' of sorts."

But Spreadshirt—a company Waldow admires—caught his attention with a twist on the usual personalization. Instead of using his name, Spreadshirt referenced his (former) place of residence with the subject line, "Durham Rocks!"

Inside, the copy reads, "You know that your hometown is awesome. But does everyone else? Now you can create your own customized hometown t-shirt and wear it proudly for the whole world to see."

According to Waldow, the email did two things well:

  1. The subject line intrigued him. "Why?" he notes. "Because—even though I don't still live there—I love Durham. It does rock."
  2. The copy got him to read the entire message. It was catchy, had a clear call-to-action and offered four ways to connect with the company on various social networks.

Aside from noting a few design issues, Waldow had only one minor criticism: He doesn't expect Spreadshirt to know he moved four months ago, but he does note that an occasional email inviting subscribers to update preferences might have made the subject line even more relevant by noting his current location.

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