Five Words For Retailers To Avoid In Subject Lines and Increase Engagement

By February 9, 2015 July 21st, 2017 No Comments

When it comes to email marketing, trying to figure out what works in a subject line and the perfect time to send a campaign can cause a bit of analysis paralysis. Ultimately, looking at your reports, understanding the goals of your campaign and programs, and experimenting is what will lead you to a fully developed and successful email program.

But that doesn’t stop us from evaluating some new data, right?

MarketingProfs did a look at an AlchemyWorx study on 21 billion marketing emails sent from 2500 brands, so to say that’s a good data set is an understatement. They looked only at open rates — a stat that doesn’t tell the full story as in order to get a more focused picture, you need to include clicks and conversions. However, I wanted to examine their findings anyway, primarily at what drives opens for retailers, something we tend to know a little bit about around here.

Image: Alchemy Worx

Ok, so ‘painting’ is a bit of an oddity, a word that really only applies to the home improvement industry as a shoe retailer isn’t going to put ‘painting’ in a subject line unless they’re offering a special painting shoe. The other top four words that inspired more opens among retailers include Ships, Please, Notice, and Recipe. The five that didn’t: Groovy, Friday, Volunteer, Fifty, and 29%. So, if you’re offering a groovy volunteer-only Friday sale with fifty items at 29% off, you’re screwed.

I got a bit more intel from the overall results seen above, especially the words Upgrade, Just, and Go. When used in the right context, they are action words designed to guide the recipient in a certain direction.

But let’s take a step back from all of this for a second. Ultimately, a subject line is about telling what’s inside an email and not selling what’s inside it. What are you trying to get your recipients to do? Why should they take time and engage with your email as opposed to the dozens of other emails in their inbox?

In email campaigns we’ve done for retail clients, numbers, time frame, and intrigue have seen the biggest results with opens and revenue. Here’s a few of the subject line winners I’ve seen in the past few months:

  • Thank You: A Special Offer From (Brand Name)
  • Flash Sale: Take 20% off at (Brand Name) | Free Shipping | No minimum required!
  • Super Cyber Sale: Save up to 30% online today!

In the case of the ‘Thank You’, that email saw a 57% open rate and was the brand’s most successful email revenue-wise to date. In the other two cases, the emails had a 11-12% open rate and were their biggest revenue generators of the month they were sent in.

The big takeaway

There’s a lot of advice out there about how to get more people to open and engage with your brand’s emails. I suggest that you take it all in, follow what the numbers tell you, and have some fun with experimenting with different subject lines, header images, and calls to action. If you’re concerned, I would suggest that I have yet to send a campaign that has garnered a 100% unsubscribe rate, so my guess is you won’t either.

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