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Friday, 23 November 2012

On The Subject Of Subjects

If you don't give your email subject  lines serious consideration than your marketing campaign could well be a fizzer.

Recent research from Adestra suggests that subject line length and specific words and phrases have a major impact on your email marketing success or failure.

They took a a random sample of email campaigns, each of which were delivered to more than 5000 recipients, giving a total volume of 932 million emails sent over a six month period. As the average in one industry may not be to another they split the data down into six key industry groups – Publishing,
Events, Ecommerce, Charities, B2B and B2C.

Key Findings:

  • For the e-commerce sector, character and word count results are paradoxical. The choice is clear – shorter subject lines drive clicks, and longer subject lines drive opens
  • Subject lines with 70 characters provide give a significant boost click-throughs
  • For Events the best click through rate comes from subject lines with 15 words/120 characters upwards
  • Publishers should realise that a higher word count delivers more opens and click through rates
  • If you are a Charity running a donation campaign then short subject lines are critical as these drive both opens and response
  • Rather strangely they report that mentioning ‘kittens’ will increase your opens by 41% but if you mention 'children' the opening rate will drop by 28%
  • For B2B's the more words the better with anything over 16 words delivering on both opens and clicks
  • For B2C's a 20 word subject line appears to be clear winner
Parry Malm at Adestra who authored the report says: “Our new subject line research has produced some incredibly interesting stats. It’s only one aspect of your email marketing arsenal, but when approached in the correct way subject line optimisation can prove to be an effective, and quick, tactical winner to help drive response rates.”


Although interestingly these findings seem to be at complete variance to recent research by email provider MailChimp.  Their statistics from their own system released in September suggests that subject line length means absolutely nothing.

Mailchimp's analysis of 12 billion emails shows that as your subject line gets longer, nothing happens
Ian Creek of Econsultancy suggests that one email is never enough. He recommends this campaign schedule:

  • Send the first email explaining the offer in full HTML. 
  • Send a second follow-up email in a plain Outlook style from a named sales contact. 
  • Send a final reminder of the offer (day before the offer ends), again this can be from the sales contact. Simple-not over-designed. 
  • If you’re really cheeky you can even send a final email the day after the offer ends with a ‘special extension’.

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