Nuts & Bolts - E-commerce: Playing the Hits Lifts Email Opens

If “Happy” by Pharrell Williams makes email recipients clap along with subject lines mentioning the song, then makes them tap along their keyboards to open the messages, that’s something that might make marketers feel like that’s what they want to do, says recent research from Retention Science.

Email subject lines containing song or movie titles see 26 percent open rates vs. 16 percent for traditional subject lines, according to the “Retention Science Email Subject Line Study” from Santa Monica-based retention marketing software provider.

On top of that, marketers may be overjoyed to learn subject lines with six to 10 words earn a 21 percent open rate, instead of the 14 percent for what 52 percent of marketers actually write—which is 11 to 15 words.

“Our findings show brevity is the key to enticing customers to engage with offers, and ultimately, to click through and convert,” says Jerry Jao, CEO of Retention Science, in the March 4 announcement about the research.

What worked well among 260 million delivered emails in 540 studied campaigns was:

• Keeping to six to 10 words, because only five or six show to the 35 percent of email recipients who open messages on mobile devices;

• Subject lines containing the email recipient’s first name got opened 2.6 percent more often than those without a first name; and

• Flash sale emails underperformed (6 percent to 8 percent), perhaps because 80 percent of the subject lines had more than 20 words and inboxes received them twice as often as other marketing messages.

Heather Fletcher is senior content editor with Target Marketing.

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