Short Subject Lines and Other Tips for Sweeter Email Results [Infographic]

short subject lines and other tips cutoff

If you want recipients to get your message, limit your email subject lines to between six to ten words. That’s just one of the interesting findings from a recent study of more than 260 million emails from 540 retail email marketing campaigns. Retention Science analyzed the campaigns to determine what tactics were most likely to get recipients to open an email and then click through to a landing page. MediaPost combined the Retention Science results with Experian’s Q4 2013 email study to conclude that emails generating the greatest response tend to be personalized, offer coupons and have shorter subject lines–preferably using movie titles or song lyrics. This infographic from MDG summarizes those findings.

Here are some tips for more effective emails based on key findings:


Keep your subject lines short.

  • Emails with six to ten words generated a 21% open rate.
  • Those with five or fewer words earned a 16% open rate.
  • The rate for 11 to 15 word subject lines dropped to 14%.
  • The better open rate for shorter lines may be because 35% of emails are now opened on mobile devices, which typically display only five to six words.
  • The recent trend of using song lyrics and movie titles in subject lines increased open rates from 16% to 26%.

Address recipients on a first name basis.

  • Personalization in the subject line improved open rates by 2.6%, from 15.7% to 18.3%.
  • Engagement, re-engagement and retention rates also improved with personalization.

Use coupons to generate higher revenue.

  • The most commonly found email subject lines regarded sales or coupons about to expire.
  • Experian’s Q4 study showed that emails containing coupons generated 48% greater revenue than other emails in general and 48% higher revenue than other promotional emails.
  • 80% of coupons offered were redeemable in stores, 70% online.
  • 21% of those redeemable in stores encouraged customers to show the coupon on their mobile device.

Click-through rates were lower.

  • The overall email volume for Q4 2013 rose 11.2% over the same quarter the previous year.
  • While open rates were similar in both years, click-through rates were lower in 2013. Some 57% of brands showed a decrease compared to previous years.

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