3 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Boost Email Open Rates

Cara Bowles    By under Email Funnels.

From split tests, to creative direction, to influential relationship building, marketing is, well, hard. But not everything in this industry has to be that way. I just came across these 3 simple changes you can make to your email subject lines to make sure your subscribers actually open them.

Let's take a look.

1. Use this many words in your subject line

According to a study recently conducted by Retention Science, using the right number of words in your subject line can more than double open rates for some marketers. A full 52 percent of the emails they looked at used between 11 and 15 words. Those marketers could boost their open rates by 50 percent, to a 21 percent open rate, simply by keeping subject lines between 6 and 10 words.

But going too short is a bad idea too. Subject lines in the 0 to 5-word range had a 16 percent open rate, better than any of the other options, but still second best.

Meanwhile, marketers who used subject lines with 21 to 25 words had open rates around just 9 percent. These marketers would more than double their results if they switched to subject lines in the 6 to 10-word range.

2. Be more like "Family Guy"

If you've ever watched the cartoon sitcom "Family Guy," you know what the show is most famous for: sudden, random cutaway jokes that reference pop culture.

According to the same study mentioned above, we could learn a thing or two from Seth MacFarlane's popular cartoon.

A relatively new trend in email marketing is to include movie titles and quotes, or song lyrics, in email subject lines.

On average, emails without references like these had an average open rate of 15.8 percent. Emails that inserted references to pop culture had a much higher open rate: 26.2 percent. That's a 65.8 percent lift in open rate.

3. Don't be so clever

Mailchimp released some data on open rates, categorizing several random subject lines into two categories: high open rates in the 60 to 87 percent range, and low open rates in the 1 to 14 percent range.

If I were to ask you which of the following had the good open rate, which would you pick?

  • Last Minute Gift - We Have The Answer
  • [COMPANYNAME] Sales & Marketing Newsletter

If you guessed the first one, sorry, you're wrong.

In fact, most of the high-performing subject lines were surprisingly "boring," while many of the low-performing subject lines look a bit more creative and seem like they should grab attention.

And that, apparently, is just the problem. Users aren't looking for email subject lines that will grab their attention. They're looking for subject lines that accurately describe what they can expect to find when the click on it.

Another thing, a lot more of the high open-rate subject lines included the company name. Branding and trust building seem to play an important part here.

So if you want more than half of your subscribers to open your email, stop trying so hard. Just tell them what they can expect to find.

To recap:

  • Use 6 to 10 words in your subject line
  • Reference pop culture
  • Be straightforward

That's it. Pass this along if you're going to try this in your next email campaign.

Image credit: gajman