The joke is on you if you’re sucking a dead man’s blood just to make money.

You'll likely disagree with me on this one

And that's fine...

But maybe you should hear me out and conclude for yourself

Here's the thing:

It always amuses me when a Copywriter tries to make money (sales) — by saying an advertising legend like Ogilvy (now dead and resting in the bossom of the lord) — was wrong about something...

...Only to end up shooting themselves in the foot!

So 6 days ago, an email Copywriter I respect a lot —sent out an email with this subject line:

"David Ogilvy Was Wrong About Subject Lines.... (and xyxyxyx)"

Of course, that got me curious...

I wanted to know what the legendary Ogilvy was wrong about

So I opened the email

Then lo and behold...

Here's what I saw:


"David Ogilvy said that 5 times as many people read your headline as the people who read the body copy.

People apply this to email and say that 5 times as many people read your subject line as those who read the email itself.

But is that true?

Not according to D. T, one of the best copywriters in Australia.

Here's what Daniel says in his [email course title], where he lists his "x number of Rules, Hacks & Secrets For Writing Emails ":

David Ogilvy Was Wrong About Subject Lines

Most people apply David Ogilvy’s quote — about five times as many people reading your headline as the body copy — to email.

This is falseSure, subject lines matter, and I notice a variation of around 20% in open rates from my worst subject lines to my best ones. So they do have some impact.

But if you mail regularly, over time, your sender name becomes a more important subject line than whatever you have in your subject — for your regular readers, who are the ones who matter (and who buy your stuff).

Interesting, right?

If you build a strong relationship with the people on your email list, they'll open your emails simply because they come from you. This means that email copywriting is in some ways less about persuasion and more about relationship-building.


Of course, email Copywriting is about building relationships

As is with all Copywriting, marketing and advertising.

But here's the laughable thing about this...

Look how D. shoots himself in the foot when he says:

"Most people apply David Ogilvy’s quote — about five times as many people reading your headline as the body copy — to email.

This is false. Sure, subject lines matter, and I notice a variation of around 20% in open rates from my worst subject lines to my best ones.


So you agree with the very thing you're trying to discredit eh?

You agree you've noticed a 20% increase in open rates each time you wrote a better subject line?

And you're indirectly saying you still put more effort into your subject lines than anywhere else in your emails? — no matter how strong your relationship with your readers is?

In which case:

Ogilvy is still right eh?


Listen up:

Ogilvy made his points based on results from historic Advertising campaigns that pulled in more money than the British Empire was generating for itself at some point...

He wasn't saying anything because he wanted to get your attention and make sales

He was talking facts — with numbers to back it all up

And if you wanted to buy from him or work with him after reading the facts...

Good and fine, you were welcome.

But what's the basis of this Copywriter's claim?

Where's the numbers to back it up?

The only number there is — not surprisingly— strenghthening the very point he's pseudo-attacking — just to make money.

And in J's subject line...

It's pretty clear he's making a serious attempt in his subject line to get attention because deep down...

He knows saying Ogilvy was wrong will get attention (and it did get my attention...)

So why bother having a compelling subject line if it was more about your name (sender's name) — and less about subject lines?

Why not just whip up any subject line because well...

You have a strong relationship with your readers

And they'd read it anyway because it was from you?


I asked my readers a question once

"Why do you open my emails? Because of my subject lines? or because it's from me?"

Of course, as expected...

Over 80% said because it was from me

I knew a lot of folks would say what they thought I wanted to hear

But if that were true

All my emails would have the same open rate from my loyal readership base...

You — my darling reader – wouldn't skip some and read only the ones with the most compelling subject lines...

You'd open all my emails no matter how weak the subject lines were

But that's not the case is it?

Now, this begs the question:

Is there a tiny section of my readers and buyers who look forward to reading my emails every day — and will open it regardless no matter how horrible the subject lines are?


No matter how much you look forward to my emails,

There's at least one day or a few days — when you didn't read my email upon receiving it — because the subject line wasn't compelling — or didn't hook you right away.

Case in point:

I don't care how strong your relationship with your readers is

If your subject lines are NOT compelling

You won't get as much readership from your core readers as when your subject lines are compelling

This is not an opinion

The numbers are there to back it up

Ask any email Copywriter worth their salt and they'd tell you it's the subject line that makes the difference

That's why the likes of Agora Financial keep testing and reusing killer subject lines that got the highest open rates

People actually judge the book by the title and it's cover

Not by the author's name.

What really sells the book is the title,

Not the author's name

If you own a list — and you look at your open rates

You'll notice your "Open rates and click through rates" always increase when you put more effort into your subject lines than anywhere else


If you don't get your subject lines right,

Nobody — not even your most loyal readers with whom you've built a strong relationship– will want read your stuff

And for the record:

I have nothing against this email Copywriter and his friend

In fact, in my early days...

This man was one of the few active Copywriters whose work I admired and tried to learn from

It's just...

I couldn't help but talk about this.

And like I said:

You don't have to agree with me on this

But just remember:

When it comes to email Copywriting

There's a very tiny % of Copywriters who can touch my back

And by tiny — I mean 0.00000000000001%

Stay frosty


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *