You get one shot at engaging your email audience — the subject line.
No matter how engaging and valuable your email content is, if the email does not get opened it is all for naught. Email marketers Adestra have published their 2013 Subject Line Analysis Report to help marketers make the right choices to improve subject lines performance.
Data from over 2 billion emails was compiled and analyzed to produce the report, resulting in some very interesting data that you can put to work for you immediately.
Before we get to the data, it is important to note that our use of email continues to evolve. MJR understands that deciphering behavior trends across media types is critical to the success of our communications efforts on behalf of our clients. For example, we understand that email is now about usability and internet users have an ever-widening variety of sources from which they can get information. Consequently, your weekly newsletter needs to be far more compelling today than was necessary in 2006, and your subject line is the critical place to convey urgency.
For example, including the word “newsletter” in your subject line now has a 18.7% negative effect on click through rates (meaning inclusion of the word “newsletter”results in an open rate decrease of 18.7% over subject lines that do not include the word). This is most likely because the word newsletter is now equal to “boring”, and certainly does not convey a sense of timeliness. Compare that with what happens were you to replace the word newsletter with the word “alert” in your subject line. You can expect to experience an open rate increase of up to 38% on opens and 61.8% of clicks. Since the word “alert” conveys a sense of urgency and immediacy, your readers are likely sensing a uniqueness around your message, inspiring opens and clicks.
Conveying a sense of timing for your communications seems to be impactful as well, with the use of “Daily and “Weekly” in subject lines performing well. “Monthly” (-26.6% opens, -37% clicks) does not fare so well, reinforcing the need for urgency in your communications and providing some data that once-a-month emails are likely too infrequent to resonate with many audiences.
Again, we see that subject lines that emphasize the timeliness of your message win with more opens and clicks. words like “Breaking” and “Alert” show good performance.
Tightly targeting your message to your audience is not enough, your subject line keywords need to echo your content focus. Words like “Review”, “Update”, and “Special” did well in the data. Interestingly, the technique of asking questions in social media posts to drive views does not work in email subject lines, as the use of a question mark, “?”, hurt opens and clicks (-16.9%, -22.3%).
Price is king in the online retail world, and the performance of phrases such as “Free Shipping” (+35.9%, +81.3%) substantiate the trend. But not just any word delivers strong results, for while “Sale” (+10/7%, +26.7%) does well, “Save” (-4.4%, -27.4%) does not. Be specific, and no matter what, do not use the words “Cheap” (-62.2%, 71.6%) or “Free” (-23.7%, -34.8%).