Email subject lines… can one word make a difference?

Email campaigns can be tricky and involve a lot of editing, tweaking, template updating and testing on all different devices, but can a single word in your email subject line be the key to whether someone opens, clicks though or unsubscribes? With all the hard work going into carefully constructed content, being cast aside without being read is pretty tough and very frustrating.

The people at Adastra have put together a report using email subject trends in a random selection of 90,000 email campaigns each with a list of 5000+ subscribers. The aim? To see if subject line key words influence your audience. With so many emails landing in the inbox this can be one area of a campaign that most do not spend enough time refining.

Click here to register and view the report

What’s the word on the street?

Lets take the humble newsletter, a regular weekly/monthly or bi-monthly campaign can be a great source of information to your readers but the word newsletter evokes visions of A4 double sized long winded pieces of information. Adastra show that using the word newsletter on your subject line can give an uplift open rate of +0.7%, however it has a negative click through rate of -18.7%.

All is not lost, it was found using the word ‘Alert’ can have a more positive effect of +38.1% opens and +61.8% clicks, hinting the word evokes current activity and a sense of urgency.

With promotional emails, the result of using ‘Free’ in the subject line had a negative -3% impact on opens and click through rates, however ‘Free Delivery’ had a healthy 50% impact on opens and click throughs but a heavy negative on unsubscribing.

So what steps can you take to improve your email subject lines?

One way can be to use A/B testing where you split your campaign into two subscriber lists, each with a different subject line. Then measuring the results of opens and click throughs. Whilst we can debate, speculate and advise on what you should and should not be using, tweaking your campaign subject lines can be a real insight into your subscriber list likes and dislikes but don’t be comfortable with what worked last month will work this month, you have to change and evolve just as much as your subscribers.

The results from Adestra are interesting and highlight the need for careful thought about your subject line for your next campaign. Depending on what industry you’re in, the average open rates for emails can be between 20% and 50% with a click through rate of 1.5% to 5%.*

If you have a standard open rate of 20% and the uplift on this is 12% this will result in in an open rate of 22.4% so the results may not be as significant as they sound, however if you have a large subscription list this can have a dramatic impact on numbers.

*Ref Mail Chimp…


We have many more web design/digital marketing tips on our blog and can help you make the most out of your website. We even have another blog on email marketing! Why not check it out: 5 kick ass reasons why email marketing is still relevant

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