What Email Subject Lines with the Best and Worst Open Rates tell Us

MailChimp, a major email marketing service, analysed more than 40 million emails and compiled a list of the best and worst subject lines. The best subject lines brought an open rate of 60 to 87 percent and the worst had open rates of only 1 to 14 percent. You can see the entire list on MailChimp’s website.

When you look at the list, a few things jump out as common trends. Looking at these trends can help us understand how to write more effective subject lines for higher open rates.

The Best Open Rates

Of course, there is a lot that goes into a winning email marketing subject line, but there are some similarities from MailChimp’s study we can look at.

Inclusion of a Company Name

Overwhelmingly, the most successful email subject lines include the name of a company. In fact, 17 of the top 20 emails included a company name.

This tells us that subscribers are interested in getting updates about businesses, and including your business name in a subject line can make your messages more influential and trustworthy and encourage people to open your emails.

News and Updates

Terms like “newsletter,” “update” and “news bulletin” were also included in the most successful subject lines. Keep in mind that people may have subscribed to your email list because they want to get current information and be alerted of company and industry news. Prove this benefit in your subject lines to increase open rates.

Event Invitations

Emails that invited people to events also proved to have higher open rates. Be sure to include email marketing in your event planning and don’t forget that things like grand openings, product launches and online events like webinars and social media chats could be events you promote through email.

The Worst Open Rates

In general, emails with boring subject lines, topics that aren’t relevant to a market and spammy subject lines aren’t very successful. Here are a few things to avoid.

Shop and Save

Interestingly, subject lines with phrases like “gift certificates,” “last minute gift,” “shop early and save” and “holiday sales event” weren’t very effective. It could be that people see these as too promotional or that they just aren’t interested in getting these kinds of promotions through email. Use these terms and types of emails strategically to make sure they work for your market.

Unnecessary News

While the study shows that sharing relevant news can be very effective, it also shows that subject lines with unnecessary news announcements don’t work. Subject lines that announce industry news the average consumer isn’t interested in, business partnerships that don’t affect customers and news that isn’t really newsworthy should be avoided.

Subject Lines that Don’t Say Anything

The study also brought attention to the fact that subject lines that are vague, don’t mean anything or that are just too simple also don’t work. For example, subject lines like “Renewal,” “It’s still summer in Tahoe” and “You asked for more…” don’t make people want to open emails. They are vague, boring and don’t promise a benefit. They also don’t stand out and demand attention, which is essential if you want to break through the noise of a crowded inbox.

Email marketing can be very effective, and it all starts with a great subject line. Uses these tips to enhance your campaigns to see higher open rates and a bigger impact. Also remember that you will likely need to do some testing to find out what works for your particular business and market.