Are Your eMails Opened?
If you read no further, start making sure the first two words of your email subject line communicate your main message so your emails are opened. If possible, even stick to a two-word subject line. Incredibly, subject lines with three or more words have an open rate of 15%! The studies mentioned in this post were done by marketers, so I’d be interested to see a study on personal emails versus mass mailings. I’m sure the open rate must be more than 15% for personal emails, which typically have longer subject lines as well. (Comment below if you find anything comparing the two.)
For both personal and group emails, 40% are read from mobile devices. Your recipient is scrolling through a long list of emails and may see four to five words of your subject. Even using a browser, people are skimming and may not read much beyond the first two words of all the email subject lines in their inbox as they decide which emails to open.
Don’t be overwhelmed with fine-tuning your subject lines. I know the following advice will sound challenging, especially if you use MailChimp to send a group email or your latest blog post. Perhaps like me, your blog post title is also your email subject line; it’s just one more thing to think about the crucial first two words of your blog post title!
My advice is just to pick out a few things to do, not all of the suggestions, in this post. Perhaps in a few months, you’ll want to try another one or two ideas. A good place to start would be to learn to avoid words that might send your emails into spam folders. These are listed at the end of this post.
Some Do’s and Don’ts to Make Sure Your eMails Are Opened
The following general subject line “rules” will help your open rate for your emails:
- Never write ALL IN CAPS. It’s like shouting.
- Check for spelling mistakes.
- Keep punctuation simple. Don’t overwhelm!!!!!!!!!!!!!
- Don’t plead to “open me!”
This report of careful research by MailChimp, Impact of Mobile Use on Email Engagement, is a useful read if you want to learn more. Here are some highlights from the article:
Merge names into the subject line, especially with personal content in your email, for a successful open rate.
Attention-grabbing and time-sensitive words help with open rates, but I wouldn’t overdo these (or it becomes like crying wolf). I also found “urgent” in the list of words that might trigger a spam filter.
“Cancelled” had a negative impact unless it was for an event or venue.
Requests for funding all had a negative impact on the open rate with “donate” as the overwhelmingly worst performer.
Capitalize the entire subject line, that is, like a book title, not ALL CAPS.
Some words that have low open rates are:
Some words that have better open rates are:
- Announcement (and variations)
- Invitation (and variations)
- Thank you
The use of “free” can be helpful… or not. This article, Subject Line Spam Trigger Words, explains why.
45 words to avoid in your email marketing subject lines by econsultancy.com also suggests:
- Don’t use superlatives.
- Avoid the days of the week.
- Mix it up for numbers. That is, don’t rely heavily on them for your subject lines.
- Don’t use stars and hearts. Emojis are “new” in subject lines, so time will tell on how best to use these.
- Don’t put any words in the subject line in [brackets] or in <these> because they give the look of a coding error.
Are Your eMails Marked as Spam?
For this section, I’ll just list words to avoid in your emails, whether they are for one-on-one connections, a monthly MailChimp letter, or a blog post title in your subject line. These words might be picked up by spam filters, placing your carefully-crafted email in a junk folder. Be aware, too, that not only does a spam filter look at your subject line, but using the following words in the body of your email (especially used frequently, and / or with a lot of links) may send your email to the spam folder as well, even if your subject line is okay.
To illustrate, I created subject lines we might use, not knowing they could set off alarms for spam filters:
- Dear friend, we have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity
- It’s effective: reaching teens around the world
- Amazing miracle
Words to avoid for emails
|Amazing||Instant||Round the world|
|Can’t live without||Leave||Sign up|
|Click here link||Lose||Solution|
|Dear friend||No disappointment||Success|
|Dear somebody||No obligation||Take action now|
|Do it today||Once in lifetime||Teen|
|Donate||One time||The following form|
|Don’t delete||One time mailing||This isn’t junk|
|Don’t hesitate||Only||This isn’t spam|
|For free||Open||Time limited|
|For you||Outstanding values||Urgent|
|Friday||Per week||Visit our website|
|Friend||Please read||We hate spam|
|Get started now||Problem||What are you waiting for?|
|Give it away||Promise you||Wife|
|Hello||Real thing||Will not believe your eyes|
This email is filed on eQuipping for eMinistry under eMail Tips so you can find it easily again.
- I recommend these sources for more detail:
- Subject Line Spam Trigger Words by Mequoda.
- Subject Line Data: Choose Your Words Wisely by MailChimp.
- The Ultimate List of Email SPAM Trigger Words by Hubspot.
- Thank you, Contact Monkey, for allowing the free use of your infographic for this post. ContactMonkey is an email tracking service for salespeople. To view their infographic with their email advice, see subject line infographic.