Email service provider MailChimp analyzed open rates for over 40 million emails sent through their system, and selected those with the best open rates (60% to 87%) and worst ones (1% to 14%).
What was astonishing was how non-descriptive the 20 subject lines that MailChimp cited as the best were. Only one offered a benefit: We’re having a party. Virtually every other was straightforward, such as:
- [COMPANY NAME] Sales & Marketing Newsletter
- Invitation from [COMPANY NAME]
- [COMPANY NAME] May 2005 News Bulletin
Some of those on the “worst” side of the fence were genuinely bad. For instance, sending an email with only the word Renewal in the subject line is downright lazy. But many of the others look pretty standard, such as:
- Valentines – Shop Early & Save 10%
- Gift Certificates – Easy & Elegant Giving – Let Them Choose
- [COMPANY NAME] Holiday Sales Event.
Have a look at MailChimp’s entire list here and see what I mean.
True, we don’t know anything about the lists these emails were sent to, how well the sender was known, or whether they were bombarding recipients with emails. Still, the difference in results from “best” to “worst” is enormous.
In accompanying comments, MailChimp cites expectations as a major factor in open rates. When you invite people to sign up for your “newsletter” and instead deliver promotions that scream “This is an ad,” it’s not surprising to see your open rate plummet.
But the fact that virtually none of the subject lines on MailChimp’s “best” list suggested a specific topic makes me rethink subject lines for the newsletters we produce. As an experiment, I’m keeping the subject line of the newsletter this article first appeared in similarly ambiguous. Our open rates have been pretty darn steady, so it should be easy to tell if the change makes a significant difference. I’ll post the results in a future issue of Let’s Grow Blog.