Swimming in Data: Dating

I always love the feedback I get from these "Swimming in Data" articles. Half of the responses are along the lines of "Hey, that's great. Keep it coming." The other half is "This stuff is useless unless I have the exact click-through and conversion numbers."

Of course it would also be great if Bill Gates would tell me what companies he was about to buy so I could buy stock as well, but I don't think that is going to happen. In fact, if every company would just open up all their secrets, there would be no need for the competitive intelligence industry. Unfortunately, competitive intelligence is more in the Sherlock Holmes category: you need to look at clues and draw inferences, and that is where these columns come in. They are raw data for those who like to decipher tea leaves.

This week we add a new bit of data to the mix: the From Line. At a conference a while back, I was asked if I had any data that showed different From Lines generating different responses. I didn't have any data then but the idea stuck.



I haven't had enough time to do a full-out analysis yet, but what I decided to start with today was to look at the subject line, the From Line, and the domain of the e-mail sender to see how these things influence each other. For this experiment I choose e-mails from the dating market sector for the month of July.

Taking a look at the top From Lines, it's clear that many of them are from the same e-mail sender, using slight variations in subject and From Line, and utilizing many different From Address Domains typical of high-volume senders.

The top 3 "From Addresses" are "Real Mature Singles" (spelled out as 3 words and representing 8.57% of the total e-mails coming from the top 20 "From Addresses"), "" (representing 7.70% of the top 20) and "RealMatureSingles" (at 7.62% of the top 20). And while the From Address with words spelled out as 3 separate words is getting a higher percentage of sends then the other two, the numbers are close enough to think that it is random. Except that the pattern repeats with other e-mail drops from the same company: Words spelled out as a title (Real Mature Singles) trump From Addresses that seem to be coming from a Web site (, which beats a From Address that just looks like it was slammed together (RealMatureSingles). And while we don't know the click-through rate of these, we can perhaps surmise that the more popular From Line is popular for a reason: it out performed the other two.

None of the e-mails coming from these From Addresses and others like them (Thirty Plus Singles, Romance Pros ) use any kind of personalization, but they do cycle a number of subject lines over the course of a month, some with obvious misspellings.

Here they are:

"Are you over 50 and looking for someone?" (Used 21.22% of the time across 3 different From Lines).

"Over 50 years old and still looking for someone special?" (Used 19.29% of the time across 3 different From Lines).

"Being over 50 doesn't mean you have to be alone" (Used 18.65% of the time across 5 different From Lines).

"Interested in meeting someone? Are you over 50?" (Used 18.33% across 4 From Lines.)

"Are you single and over 50?" (Used 17.36% across 5 From Lines)

"nterested in meeting someone? Are you over 50?" (Used 3.54% across 3 From Lines - notice the misspelling).

And finally

"Being over 50 doesn't mean you have to be alone." (notice the period at the end, which differentiates it--only used a mere 1.61% of the time, and interestingly enough, across only two From Lines. And of those two From Lines, one is only used a single time: "Mature Singles"--the only time the "Real" is dropped.

OK, you Sherlocks out there, what can we surmise from all these clues?

For one, almost all the subject lines are in the form of questions. In the exceptions, no punctuation is used and when it is, quickly dropped. Can we guess then that a subject line in the form of a question is a more powerful influencer than a declarative sentence?

Experiments are used across 6 different combinations of basically the same From Address. The clear winner is the simple title: 3 words, each spelled out. What does this tell us about the deliverability of From Lines, or the propensity of someone to open and act on an e-mail by looking at who is sending it?

I leave that for you to decide, but I will be reporting back as I get more insights into the world of Subject Lines.

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