3 Email Subject Line Best Practices: New Study Sheds Light

Can first Adestra data since 2013 drive email subject line best practices?

Is there still anyone out there maligning email as a has-been component of publishing? We sure hope not. Newsletters are hotter than ever, for starters, and emails operate as a another strong delivery mechanism for content like video. They build loyalty with existing consumers, create relationships with new consumers, and give you the opportunity to sell products. But none of this can happen if recipients don’t click open your emails, which itself can’t happen without email subject line best practices.

UK-based email marketing firm Adestra knows this as well as anyone, and their first study since a blockbuster 2013 analysis provides plenty of takeaways. This new edition ran the numbers on 3 billion attempted sends and more than 400 million opens. Let’s take a look at what they learned.

3 Email Subject Line Best Practices

1. Focus on Benefit, Not Features, Especially for Events

The events sector is ripe for development, including on the email front. Adestra reports that email for events is stale and relies too much on the same keywords, pushing standard features of events like “agendas” and “keynotes” instead of benefits like”advice” and “buy” and “course.”

“This response decay is largely due to a lack of creativity or propensity to experiment with other tests,” the report states. “The problem comes down to event workflows. Generally, the prime registration period comes in the weeks leading up to an event. At this point, marketers are overwhelmed with a million and one tasks. The last thing they want to think about is a subject line! However, this is done at their own peril – considering email is one of the strongest visitor drivers out there, optimizing it is your #1 route to increased footfall.”

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2. B2B Niche Unsubscribes Add Up, but Can Be Avoided

“News” stands out as a powerful keyword for both opens and clicks in the B2B niche segment, soundly beating out the likes of “alert,” “download,” and “forecast.” But the content must be strong and well-targeted to avoid apathy or even unsubscribes from your audience. The bonus with this report from Adestra is a nice booster pack of keywords to get started with.

3. Strong Content, Strong Offers Perform for Publishers

Keywords like “review” and “top stories” still drive traffic, as consumers tend to value editorial insight.

“Strong editorial content, when used as a hero topic in the subject line, drives huge response across all metrics,” according to Adestra. “Often marketers and editors operate in separate ways; however, these statistics indicate that a more joined-up approach between the two departments will result in a better overall email product.”

When it comes to monetizing that content, publishers still face an uphill battle.

“The second main purpose of email for publishers is to sell subscriptions to their titles, be they online or offline,” the report states. “However, this is easier said than done, and the important thing is to consider what words will work with your audience.”
Standard fare like “Discount” and “% off” aren’t nearly as effective as you might think, while “on sale now” and “order today” can draw clicks.

Looking for more email subject line best practices? Download our free Organic Audience Development Strategy handbook today!

To read the full study, visit Adestra.com.


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