For ardent believers of the euphemism, ‘there’s always more than one way to crack an egg’, the notion that there’s a rigid ‘best practice’ for something can be trying.
Without some empirical evidence, promoting a best practice approach to writing something, that’s based on a blend of experience, historic teachings and good old gut feel can sometimes be a challenge.
So I was pleased to come across a short report on the findings of Mail Chimp’s second email subject line study. Analysing the open rates of more than 200 million emails, it happily reconfirmed some ‘do’s and don’ts’:
. Subject lines with high open rates (>74%) are generally short and deliver information that is timely, useful, personal and has high affinity with the recipient.
. Subject lines with low open rates (<12%) are either too long, too good to be true, include an exclamation mark or interestingly the words, ‘help’, ‘reminder’, ‘% off’.
. Surprisingly perhaps, personalisation e.g. including a first or last name doesn’t improve open rate.
. Localisation, such as including the name of a city does improve open rate.
. While the study generally proved the ‘50 characters or less’ rule of thumb, it did show that using more characters with a highly targeted audience was OK.
I was also pleased to see the report reiterate a few essential home truths for email marketing, lest we forget:
. Newsletter subject lines need to give a clear indication of what’s inside, if open rates aren’t going to dwindle over time.
. The From line needs to clearly convey who you are, and shouldn’t change over time.
. Email list quality and frequency have a big impact on open rates (for sure!)
A brief report, but well worth a quick read. A nice closing remark too: ‘When it comes to subject lines, don’t sell what’s inside. Tell what’s inside.’ Nice.