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Addwater Marketing Agency Blog > How to write the best email subject lines
Author - Sarah Gemmell
Category - Email marketing
Posted - 05/03/2011
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How to write the best email subject lines
With the ability to track nearly everything you do online these days, many forms of marketing previously considered "an art" can now be considered "a science."

chart.jpgA little while ago I wrote a post on the best timing for tweeting, blogging and Facebook posting. Though some of the findings are hard to believe or counter-intuitive, they're backed by pure data. So in order to get the best bang for your buck when engaging in social media, you may need to change your marketing habits.


In the same way, writing the subject lines for your email marketing campaigns is also much more of a science than an art. In a blog post by the Mailchimp team they unveil the best practices for writing email subject lines -- based on 200 million emails.

Among their findings, I thought the most surprising was that splashy or catchy subject lines perform the worst, while the short and to-the-point (borderline boring!) email subject lines perform the best. This might be hard to swallow, but it's backed up by pure data!

Here are some other findings by Mailchimp:

  • Subject line length: Generally, subject lines that are 50 characters or shorter perform the best.
  • Subject line content: Your subject should always accurately describe what's in the email. Raise expectations too much, and you'll get a frustrated customer who may even remove themselves from your mailing list.
  • Localization: Including a city name helps open rates. Conversely, including the recipient's name in the subject line does not.
  • Repeated subject lines: As you may have guessed, it's not good to repeat the same subject line in multiple emails. Even if the emails have the same content (ex. upcoming event reminders), change up the subject lines to get a higher open rate.
  • Promotional emails: Contrary to what you may think, promotional emails generally perform worse than newsletter-type emails full ofEmail_subjects_with_highest_open_rate.png timely and valuable information. Keep the subject line non-salesy, and opt for a subject line phrased as a question for the best open rate.

Just to prove that the best performing subject lines are not what you'd think, Mailchimp displays the best and worst in a table. Take a gander at the best performing ones -- boring right? But a 93% open rate -- you can't beat that!

Are you a frequent email marketer? Have you noticed any patterns in your subject line technique?


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