Express Value, Avoid ‘Trigger’ Words and Include Numbers to Increase Open Rates

Emails with video indicated in the subject line generate the highest engagement rates. But only around 8% of the emails in a recent study from GetResponse contained links to videos. “For now, the best workaround is to use an image (maybe even a GIF) that looks like a video player and links to your page,” they suggest. “That way, you’ll boost your click-throughs and enhance your contacts’ experience as they’ll watch the content in their default browser or video player.”

What can we do to improve engagement and open rates of our email? Let us count some content-oriented ways here.

1. Don’t use all caps anywhere in your email or its subject line, and try to stay away from exclamation points. Using all caps in your subject line might get the recipients’ attention, but probably not in a good way. It can be annoying to people. Much better to personalize, establish relevancy, and use catchy and pleasing language. As for exclamation points, when 69% of email recipients report email as spam based solely on the subject line, you’ll want to stay away from triggers.

2. Speaking of which, avoid spam trigger words. According to CoSchedule, these trigger spam alerts: 100%. Congratulations. Don’t. Get started. Innovate. Problem. Quickest. Success. Vacation. Volunteer. “A good rule of thumb is this: If it sounds like something a used car salesman would say, it’s probably a spam trigger word. Think ‘guarantee,’ ‘no obligation’ and so on.” Instead, they encourage creativity and being informative—without giving too much away.

3. “Free” is back in again. For what works well, a recent GetResponse survey revealed that the top words for inducing opens in a subject line are “pdf,” “newsletter” and “ebook.” “If you’re promoting a piece of content or a valuable resource, you’re probably better off if you mention it in the subject line.” For click-to-open rates, “infographic” scored huge at 35.1%—very easy to digest—followed by newsletter at 31.4%. “Sale” and “free” also fared well—the latter drawing this comment: “This phrase, previously believed to cause deliverability issues, seems to work well for quite a few marketers… People still enjoy receiving free things.” Amen.

4. Include a number in your subject line. A recent study looking at 115 million emails surmised that email open and reply rates go up when there’s a number in the subject line. “Numbers and data get your emails noticed, demonstrate a clear and straightforward message about your offer, and set the right expectations for your readers, helping draw them in.” Some I’m seeing today: Last Chance to Save 25% on Mediabistro’s Online Career Workshops; 9 Ways to Avoid the Summer Media Sales Slump; 7 Productivity Hacks to Help You Work Smarter in 2021.

5. Keep your email subject lines relatively short. Here, as is often the case, it’s best to know your audience. If the majority are opening your emails on their phone, then go short. iPhones show about 35-38 characters in portrait mode, and Galaxy phones show roughly 33 characters in portrait mode. “Subject lines that are 17-24 characters long are most likely to boost your email open rates.” That can really feel short sometimes. The main lesson in that is to be direct. Language cuteness has its place, but subject lines need to make an immediate impact.

6. Utilize preheader text to boost subject line open rates. Preheaders summarize the content in your email for added explanation and enticement. Your readers gets an opportunity to preview the email, even while it sits unopened in their inbox. I just started doing this for another newsletter I send out. When done right, the subject line and the preheader complement each other. One example: “Innovative event ideas – Coffee mugs for speakers, drive-in meetings and year-round platforms highlight new twists for the virtual age.”

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