4 Email Subject Line Myths We All Need to Stop Believing
The success of your entire email campaign, firstly, depends on the single line – the subject line. Realizing that, marketers often look for a perfect subject line formula all over the internet.
Like everything, subject lines also have trends and tendencies. You may find them highlighted in the plethora of articles online.
But does the trendy subject line really mean the clickable one?
At Omnisend, we studied all emails sent from our platform in 2017 to see which subject lines worked the best. We found out that some “trends” were only myths and they should be busted. But some of them are worth trying out.
So let’s take a look at we’ve discovered.
Myth #1. Using your customer’s first name in the subject line improves open rates
Marketing personalization, in general, is growing. Businesses put in a lot of effort to be able to send relevant messages to their customers and to approach them personally and directly.
However, personalization by using customer’s first name in the subject line doesn’t look natural. It might even look spammy for some customers. They realize that their names are used automatically, and “being automatic” objects the “personal” approach.
The vast majority of retailers tend to agree with this attitude. Only 3.5% of all emails we analyzed had a subject line with first name included.
The data also showed that personalized subject lines only had 0.2% better results than subject lines without using the recipient’s name. Emails with the recipient’s first name were opened at 18.1% on average. Meanwhile, emails without personalized subject lines were opened at 17.9% on average.
The conclusion is clear – this myth is busted. Email subject lines with the recipient’s first name included aren’t more effective than the ones without it. So you can skip testing this idea with your email campaigns.
Myth #2. Exclamation marks look spammy. Don’t use them
From entire our sample, we compiled 30 best-performed email subject lines for promotional email campaigns. We found that nearly half of them were with an exclamation mark.
Was it only a coincidence?
Perhaps no. For better understanding, we broke our data into two separate groups: newsletters and automated email workflows.
For newsletters, we saw that subject lines without exclamation marks performed slightly better than those with them. On average, emails without exclamation marks resulted in 18% open rate. The subject lines with exclamation marks measured a 17% average open rate. And the more exclamation marks they contained, the lower the open rates were. Respectively, 2 exclamation marks – 16.7%, 3 exclamation marks – 16.5% open rate.
But for automated workflows the results were opposite. Due to the different email automation campaigns, the exclamation marks and the urgency in the subject lines are accepted by subscribers differently. Emails with one exclamation mark in the subject line were opened at 29% on average, while the emails with 2 marks or more were opened at 35%.
The difference between using one exclamation mark and two is huge, so this case should be tested more.
The results and the conclusion about this myth are ambiguous. I would say that you should avoid using exclamation marks in your bulk email campaigns. But use them for highly relevant automated emails – the ones that your customers expect, or find important.
Myth #3. Percentages work better than dollar amounts in the subject lines
Which discount works better – “$20 OFF” or “20% OFF”?
Email subject lines with $ sign performed better and resulted in a 29% open rate. The email with a % sign in the subject line resulted in a 25% open rate on average.
However, the numbers should be taken with a grain of salt. This result might be due to the fact that significantly more marketers use % discount in their subject lines and then the $ sign stands out and results better.
In my opinion, it also depends on your product and price range. For some products, a 5% discount is better than $5 discount, and vice versa.
Nevertheless, this is something that still needs to be tested for your business individually.
Myth #4. Short subject lines work better than long ones
The most frequent subject lines used by marketers are between 11 and 50 characters, according to our research.
Subject lines with 51-90 characters had a 40.5% average rate. Meanwhile, the most frequent length of 11-50 characters resulted in 33.08%. However, the sample of emails with 11-50 characters in subject lines was significantly bigger and that could affect the result.
All in all, the myth No.4 is confirmed. The best hit for promotional email subject lines is the length between 21-30 characters. They are the most popular, and they have the best open rate.
At the end of the day, not all marketing trends are ones to follow. Marketing is one of the most dynamic parts of any business. So a lot of things lose their steam as quickly as they appear.
Trust the data, trust your own findings. They will give you the directions to move forward.
Author: Karolina Petraškienė
Bio: Karolina is a digital communicator, content marketer and email enthusiast at Omnisend.
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