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Supercharge Email Subject Lines

Posted on the 17 October 2013 by Marketingtango @marketingtango
Email Subject Lines

Slapping email subject lines together instead of carefully thinking them through is a surefire way to torpedo campaign results, says British marketing firm Adestra, in a recent study of more than one billion B2B marketing emails.

Use key findings from this incredibly exhaustive study to inform and improve your email marketing:

  • Beware the Sentiment Shift. Top performing terms for B2B subject lines include “alert” and “breaking,” suggesting perceived value in news or news-like content. Less than average results for “reports,” “forecasts” and “intelligence” suggest that B2B prospects may be growing weary or at least desensitized to the previously popular tactic of trading contact information for free content.
  • Length Matters. For B2B, Adestra recommends using short and snappy (<30 characters) lines for promoting an offer or required action, and much longer versions (>90 characters) to communicate more benefits. Analysts surmise that lengthier lines equate to a higher chance of sparking interest, which may surprise marketers who’ve been taught that when crafting subject lines brevity is golden.
  • Yes Virginia, there is a Dead Zone. According to Adestra, opens and clicks drop off dramatically when subject line length falls between 30 and 60 characters. Invest a little extra thought to avoid this potential campaign killer.
  • Keep it Concrete. Salesy or overly promotional email subject lines fall flat with B2B buyers, who, because of their protracted, multi-layer sales and buying decision cycles tend to be more skeptical toward vague claims and emotional appeals.

B2C and eCommerce Results

The Adestra study also includes insights that non-B2B companies can apply to improve results.

  • B2C. Emails with subject lines containing the terms “review,” “update,” and “special” achieved much better than average open and click-through rates, as did those with the word “video.”
  • Retail and eCommerce. Perhaps not surprisingly, “free delivery” performed exceptionally well in retail and eCommerce messages. Other above average performers in this category were “sale” and specific “percent off” discount offers. Terms with the most negative effects on results include “save” and “buy,” along with more the more dubious (and obvious) “cheap” and “free.”

Segmentation, relevance, content and timing are all essential to email marketing success. But without subject lines that compel the click (and skirt the spam traps), otherwise brilliantly crafted messages and offers could earn a quick trip to the trash can.

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