5 Ways To Improve Subject Lines [An Analysis Of Nearly 27,000 Emails]

By  October 25th, 2016


One of the biggest weapons content marketers have at their disposal is email.

Compared to Facebook and Twitter, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers, and more than 70 percent of consumers prefer to receive promotional content via email than the social networks.

To be this impactful, though, your email marketing campaign has to pack some punch, and one of the easiest ways to do this is through a killer subject line.

So how can you make sure your next email isn’t a complete shot in the dark? My team at Fractl recently analyzed 26,988 emails to see what the most popular subject lines have in common – along with what the most ineffective subject lines share.

You only get one chance to make a first impression – particularly with subject lines – so below I’ll outline five ways to break through all of the other noise in your consumer’s inbox.

1. Prove That You Have Something Your Recipient Can See Before They Even Open Your Email

Considering that more than 60 percent of the population are visual learners, it makes sense that a great subject line should reveal how your content can show something.

“Image” was among the 10 highest-performing subject-line words, boasting almost a 20 percent response rate. Other high-performing synonyms for visual content included “chart” and “show,” each generating more than a 17 percent response rate.

TIP: If your content includes a chart or infographic, consider including the words in brackets at the end of the subject lines. This will add even more emphasis to the word.


2. Tap Into The Power Of Geographic Ego Bait

Personalized subject lines are 22 percent more likely to be opened, and an easy way to add that personal touch is by connecting your subject line to where your recipient is located in the world. For example, including “U.K.” in the subject line helped emails generate more than a 20 percent response rate.

TIP: A great place to find out someone’s location is through their social media accounts. Twitter, for example, allows users to identify where they’re located under their profile picture. However, if the bulk of your contact list comes from visitors filling out an online form, consider adding a line where they can include a general location.

3. Indicate How Your Content Relates To The Recipient’s Specific Interests

The high response rate for terms like “content,” “marketing,” “house,” “travelers,” and “body” reveal just how important it is to connect your email to topics that interest the receiver.

Remember that their inbox is crowded, so recipients are more likely to show interest in a topic they enjoy versus a more generalized subject line that doesn’t reveal what’s in the bulk of the email and how it connects to them.

TIP: The more specific you can be, the better. The phrase “quick updates for your house,” for instance, looks a lot more targeted than “ways to improve where you live.”

4. Keep Your Subject Line To 10 Words Or Less

The average length for successful subject lines was 10.1 words, so remember to keep things short and sweet.

TIP: Again, using brackets is a great way to limit how many words are included in your subject line. For instance, instead of saying, “Here’s What 26,000 Emails Reveal About the Highest-Performing Subject Lines,” reword it to include, “The 15 Most Effective Subject Line Words [26,000 Emails].”

5. Do Not Draw Attention To Dynamic Content

Our study also looked at subject lines with some of the lowest success rates. One common thread was referencing non-static content: The words “video” and “interactive” were two of the lowest-performing subject-line words.

TIP: Instead of focusing on how your content is presented, tailor your subject line to what the recipient can learn from it (i.e. what are the key insights that will benefit them).


The Biggest Takeaway? Subject Lines Offer A Brief Window To Make A Big Impression

For your email marketing campaign to be successful, it needs to add value for the recipient – and a subject line offers the perfect starting point. You need to prove that your email can show something new, is highly personal, and relevant to what interests the receiver. Although subject lines don’t offer a ton of space for your brand to strut their stuff, these five tips can help you trim the fat and get that highly-coveted “click.”



* Adapted lead image:  Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com

About the Author:

Andrea Lehr is a Brand Relationship Strategist at Fractl where she works alongside a team of creative strategists to produce unique, data-driven campaigns about industry trends. Connect with her on LinkedIn for daily updates on great content; follow her on Twitter for the GIFs.


5 Ways To Improve Subject Lines [An Analysis Of Nearly 27,000 Emails]

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