How to Make the Most of Email Subject Lines

By August 4, 2014E-mail
"Increase Open Rates" email envelope

Emails have a very limited amount of time to capture the interest of a viewer, and it starts with the subject line. The choice of one word over another can increase or decrease an email’s open rate by more than 1 percent, which can make a big difference in an email marketing campaign’s return on investment (ROI).

You can learn these nuances by trial and error, but email marketing companies like MailChimp have already done a lot of research. Implement these best practices in writing email subject lines:

Personalization works.

It might seem like a trite marketing ploy, but including a recipient’s name can increase open rates. Use first and last names for the biggest boost, as long as you have enough space. Certain industries, like government and creative services, see even better results from personalization.

“Free” can work, but not always.

Using the word “free” in subject lines increases open rates in some industries, but lowers them in others. Retail, finance, healthcare, real estate, travel, and transportation companies should steer clear from using the word. Sometimes it causes an email server to flag the message as spam, and it never gets to the recipient’s inbox.

Recipients respond to urgency.

Words like “alert,” urgent,” or “important” correlate to 0.79 percent higher open rates. Use these words when appropriate.

Announcements attract viewers.

Event-related words like “announcement” and “invitation” generate interest and improve open rates.

Reminders discourage viewers.

Terms like “reminder” and “cancellation” cause more viewers to ignore the message. It’s possible recipients find reminders annoying and cancellations negative.

Charitable words fare poorly.

Non-profits should be aware that all donation-related words affect open rates negatively. It’s important to note, though, that certain words are less negative, making them acceptable to use when necessary. “Helping” and “fundraising” are good alternatives to “donate,” which decreases open rates by more than 0.5 percent.

“Thank you” encourages opens.

Your audience likes being thanked. Add this phrase when appropriate to help increase open rates.

Every word matters. Choose wisely!