Email Subject Lines That Work

A new report on email subject lines from MailChimp is full of things you would expect–the word ‘urgent’ increases open rates–and not expect, like including a person’s first and last name has a far greater positive impact than either first or last name alone. How about all-caps subject lines? A small increase. The word free in subject lines? Very little impact.

email subject line

Other findings:

  • Reminder and cancelled affected open rates negatively.
  • Using any instance or combination of first and last names = better open rates.*
  • Freebie helps open rates.
  • Breaking, important and alert create engagement.
  • Donation had the most negative impact among all the charitable-action words. The least? Helping.
  • Sign up hurts engagement; last chance even more so.

*Exception: Use of first names hurt the legal industry. (Maybe because people don’t want to feel a false sense of intimacy with what is commonly thought of by outsiders as the most hated profession.)

Be sure to check out the full report for an explanation of how the testing of 24 billion emails was conducted and charts showing the standard positive and negative deviations:

Subject Line Data: Choose Your Words Wisely.”

About Paul Richlovsky

Paul purposefully merges a creative writing and teaching background with his decade-long marketing career. He advises clients on content strategy, editorial direction and PR/distribution. He is a perpetual critical thinker who has written/edited hundreds of blog posts and multiple long-form marketing guides, including those aimed at audiences as varied as healthcare, higher education, financial services, B2C brands and manufacturing. With a BA in English from the College of Wooster, he is also the author of a collection of poetry, "Under the Lunar Neon."He gets really excited about the science of elite performance, usability, brand voice, headlines, digital governance, ballroom dancing, bachata, racquet sports, and romping with his niece and nephews.

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