Removing your brand name from your subject line could boost open rates up to 18%
Back in 2007, MailChimp published the results of their top seven performing subject lines. Seventeen out of the top 20 email subject lines (with a 60%-87% open rate) included the company name. These were the top seven of all time. When we saw the research, we were stunned.
- [COMPANYNAME] Sales & Marketing Newsletter
- Eye on the [COMPANYNAME] Update (Oct 31 – Nov 4)
- COMPANYNAME] Staff Shirts & Photos
- [COMPANYNAME] May 2005 News Bulletin!
- [COMPANYNAME] Newsletter – February 2006 [ *|FNAME|* *|LNAME|* ]
- [COMPANYNAME] and [COMPANYNAME] Invites You!
- Happy Holidays from [COMPANYNAME]
JupiterReseach backed up this claim by saying that adding a company name to the subject line could increase open rates by 32 to 60 percent.
Naturally, I went to work and did this test on our own email newsletters; We added “Mequoda Daily” to the beginning of all our subject lines.
Immediately our open rates increased by 20-30%. At the time, delivery was a tricky beast and the consistency of this method also boosted delivery rates from 60 to 90+ percent. We showed our results at one of the Summits and our clients tested too. Their open rates increased.
This was 2007. Six years later we’re learning that what was once a wonderful improvement, may not be anymore.
At the Summit last month, someone asked about including their company name in their subject line, despite the character limits on mobile email, that what we were discussing at the time.
During the Summit we learned that mobile traffic for the publishers in attendance was doubling and tripling year over year. Recently Raymond Horowitz from Black Belt Magazine told me, “We’ve seen a 200% increase in both mobile-phone and tablet traffic compared to only 61% growth in traffic sourced from desktop computers.” Publishers in attendance concurred, even the ones in niches with older consumers.
We had a short discussion about this test during that conversation. Not realizing just how long ago we did this test, we related the results but added that the research from the test was a few years old and worth re-testing.
Six years old. That’s a lifetime in the digital world!
And Noah Wiener, the online editor at Bible History Daily, who I can always count on to pave his own path with his very unique audience, performed the test.
As you can imagine, things have changed!
Since their launch, the email subject lines at Bible History Daily have started with Bible History Daily: [actual subject].
As you can imagine, this is a long beginning to a subject line. Some mobile devices cut off at 25 characters which left BHD with about 5 characters left.
“If people read this on a smart phone, all they’ll see is Bible History Daily as our subject line every day,” Noah told me.”We did some three way splits, using Bible History Daily:, BHD:, and no intro.”
The winner was the subject line without an intro.
In the first test it won with a 10.1% boost in open rate and in the second test it won with a 9% increase. “Since then, we’ve removed Bible History Daily from our subject lines entirely,” Noah told us.
- Bible History Daily: Treasures in Clay Jars
- BHD: Treasures in Clay Jars – 5% increase
- Treasures in Clay Jars – 10.1% increase
- Bible History Daily: Rahab the Harlot?
- BHD: Rahab the Harlot? 5.4% increase
- Rahab the Harlot? 9% increase
This is certainly a test to keep track of over time.
We decided to do the same with our own Mequoda Daily and found similar results. We earned an 18% increase in open rate on the test without “Mequoda Daily” in the subject line.
I don’t think there’s any question about why a shorter subject line works better. Adding your brand name to the beginning of emails used to increase delivery and open rates, but from what we can tell, it simply doesn’t anymore. Instead, it wastes good subject lines by letting mobile devices truncate them.
Have you tried this test? Have any theories to add? Let me know in the comments.