Recently I was sending out a series of email re-qualifications. The process is mercifully simple. I design them, send the html to the email dispatcher who loads it into the email equivalent of an electric toaster, and presto, out pops my email effort.

In addition to the html, I also have to provide a promotion code, the subject line copy and who the email is from—and hereby hangs the tale.

I changed the name of the email sender from the last time the email was sent in the belief that familiarity breeds contempt. It could be the very fact the email is coming from “Subscription Department” that is putting off the recipients from opening the email. I don’t know, so I tested it.

But when I got the test, the sender name wasn’t “Roy Beagley,” it was still “Subscription Department.” I was intrigued by this and called the person in charge of the email toaster, who said that it was not “considered good practice” to change the sender name. Always wanting to learn things, I asked how this conclusion was reached, was there a report, had someone done a test, who had discovered this and how? The answer was there is no report, no test and no discovery, someone once again decided not to let the facts get in the way of a good story and just decided this was the new protocol.

In an email promotion there are several things that could account for a bad response: bad copy or bad design being chief among them. There is also the spam filter that has decided certain words demand automatic banishment to the trash can—even though those words help sell subscriptions. The text-to-picture ratio has an effect on whether an email will eventually end up in the recipients’ inbox or trash; can you imagine postal carriers deciding if they are going to deliver mail to you or not depending on whether they think there are too many, or too few words on an envelope?

I would also have thought who the email is coming from would matter too. A letter informing me I may have won $50,000 excites me; a letter with the letters “I”, “R” and “S” causes my heart to go in to arrhythmia. An email from the “subscription department” may not excite me, but an email from “The Publisher” or “Xmag Subscriptions” or simply a name like, well, “Roy Beagley” may induce me to open the email. I don’t know, that is why we test, and, based on those results, decide what is “considered good practice” rather than letting a good tale debase the facts.