A recent GetResponse survey revealed that the top words for inducing opens in a subject line are “pdf,” “newsletter” and “ebook.” For click-to-open rates, “infographic” scored huge at 35.1%—it’s 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.
Not surprisingly, by around June last year, more people were opening their email on their computers or desktops than on their phone, reversing a recent trend. However, as the year—thankfully—ended, mobile gained ground again as the top way to read email.
As with so many things, it’s really a case of knowing—and talking to—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. According to most studies, subject lines that are 17-24 characters long are most likely to boost your email open rates.
But that can really feel short sometimes. The main lesson is to be direct. Language cuteness has its place, but subject lines need to make an immediate impact and reflect what’s in the email.
Other ways to get more attention for your emails:
Take a number please.
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.”
Create a welcome message.
Welcome emails perform very well. A report from last year said that 30% of onsite digital subscriptions originate from “welcome” messages that provide an introduction to new readers, and “warn” messages that serve as reminders as the reader approaches the meter limit.
Test send-day, send-time, subject-line length and even sender name.
Perhaps you will do better with a person’s name that people know. In one of the biggest surprises, Friday, not Wednesday or Thursday, was the best day for engagement last year, reported Campaign Monitor. It had the best open rate (22.1%), the best click-through rate and the best click-to-open rate. “This is just one example of the ways the pandemic changed the way people engage with the world around them.” In open rates, Monday was second and Sunday third. But in click-through and click-to-open rates, Wednesday was second and Saturday third.
Monitor your sender reputation.
According to Demand Metric, “a surprising percentage of study participants do not monitor their sender reputation or were unsure if it is being monitored. Marketers who are not actively monitoring their sender reputation should strongly consider leveraging Sender Score, Google Postmaster Tools, Microsoft SNDS, or other similar tools.”
Give thought to the preheader text.
Preheaders summarize the content in your email for added explanation and enticement. Your readers get an opportunity to preview the email, even while it sits unopened in their inbox. I just started doing this for another newsletter, and the open rate has increased. 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.”
Send highly-relevant content through personalization and segmentation.
This came from another email report last year: “Personalization is quickly being overtaken by hyper-personalization, not only in email messaging but in touch points far beyond the inbox. Brands that have resisted the personalization wave will find their reliance on one-size-fits-all email might shut them out of the inbox as customers grow more apathetic to their messages—and ISPs use that apathy to give preferential treatment to brands more in tune with their customers.”
Ensure that your emails align with subscriber expectations.
Know your audience and why they are there. “Marketers who report inbox placement rates of 90% or above are much more likely to follow list management best-practices, such as validating email addresses, building lists organically, and honoring opt-outs,” writes Demand Metrics.
Routinely schedule re-engagement campaigns to maintain list hygiene.
Focus on quality of subscribers above quantity.