With all the talk about social media, search engine optimization (SEO) and video, you might think of email as an old-school marketing method. Nothing could be further from the truth. Just take a look at these recent stats as reported by Salesforce.com.
► 44% of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based on a promotional email. (Convinceandconvert.com)
► 72% of B2B buyers are most likely to share useful content via email. (Earnest Agency)
► 82% of consumers open emails from companies. (Litmus)
I’ve had greater sustained success using email to generate sales and leads than with practically any other method. One of the most important elements to email marketing success, however, lies in the subject line.
► 33% of email recipients open email based on subject line alone. (ConvinceandConvert.com)
► 64% of people say they open an email because of the subject line. (Chadwick Martin Bailey)
Here are two different studies that both show how vital writing subject lines is. Between 1/3 and 2/3 of people who receive your email will base their split-second decision on whether or not to open your message on the subject line alone.
That’s why I pay close attention every year when Adestra releases its annual subject line analysis report. You can download your own at no cost.
Trends in Email Subject Lines
As noted early in their report, Adestra cautions, “Not all of your emails will get opened all the time. Even market leaders routinely have less than half of their emails opened on a campaign-by-campaign basis.”
Very true. What you also need to remember is that these are trends, not carved-in-stone, guaranteed techniques. You’ll still need to test and see which work best for your particular industry/list.
Without a doubt, this report shows that usability and clarity are becoming key to getting good email open and click rates. If you’re having a sale, say so. If you are releasing a new video, tell your list plainly.
As with writing headlines and other copy, people no longer have the time or patience to try and figure out what your “catchy” subject lines mean. They either understand it and open your message or they don’t and delete it.
Adestra looked at specific keywords in a variety of areas.
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Overall, using the word “free” in your subject line tended to decrease open and click rate as well as decreasing unsubscribe rates. On the other hand, using “free delivery” had the reverse effect by increasing open and click rates while also decreasing unsubscribe rates.
Other keywords that performed well included:
Which keywords caused subject lines to tank?
- Don’t Miss
Interestingly enough, the keywords used in the subject lines and their effects on open, click and unsubscribe rates changed from industry to industry. For instance, in B2B publishing these were the top performing keywords.
- $ (Adestra is in the UK, so they used the symbol for pounds sterling)
- Top Stories
did very poorly.
But in B2C publishing, these were at the head of the pack:
while these bottomed out:
- % off
- Last chance
B2C events (concerts, etc.) and B2B events had horrible open rates for just about every keyword in every subject line. The reason, as Adestra explains, is “B2C events suffer the same problem as their B2B compatriots – a saturated market and the need for differentiation. Focus on what makes your event different and the savings and offers you can give to your audience. This will make you stand out from the crowd.”
Retail and Ecommerce segments did far better with the words “sale” and “% off” in their subject lines than practically anything else.
What Do I Do Next?
Grab a copy of the report for yourself and start testing. Most email and autoresponder services make it really easy to do split tests with different subject lines. I highly recommend Aweber which is what I’ve used for years.
Run several tests then watch the stats your service provides to see which of the keywords listed for your industry can improve your response.
While there are tons of ways to create successful emails, this is one proven to produce revenue.