e LinkedIn article received much more traction and many more comments. Now, there are many more considerations involved, such as potential audience and the fact that the LinkedIn audience had a link to the ADM article, but I am sure the subject line played a part.…
, and click-to-open rates, finds Adestra [download page] in a July 2012 study of 932 million emails from more than 40,000 campaigns across 6 sectors, sent over a 6-month period. The results show that dealer to consumer emails have a below-average click-to-open rate (CTOR) for subject lines between 20 and 60 characters in length, but after that pick up steam, hitting their peak at 150 characters in length.These emails have a CTOR 94.7% above the average (and click and open rates 276.4% and 93.2% above-average, respectively).
B2B emails show a similar trend, though not quite as clear cut. Emails with subject line length of 20 characters performed above-average for all 3 metrics, though the rates generally dipped after that until recovering from 90 characters in length and up. The peak for open rate was 20 characters (24.6% above-average), while the peak for click rate was for 140 characters (82.7% above-average) and for CTOR was also 140 characters (72% above-average).
E-commerce Emails Show Mixed Trends
Data from Adestra’s subject line study indicates that when it comes to the e-commerce sector, the results are fairly mixed. Subject lines 110 characters in length performed best for open rates (122.4% above-average), but those 70-characters-long did best for click rates (91.1% above-average), while those with 30 characters achieved the best CTOR (17.4% above-average), despite the latter having below-average open and click rates. Overall, subject lines with 70 characters appeared to do the best, with above-average performance in each metric.
For the events sector, short subject lines (20-30 characters) got the highest open rates, while longer subject lines (120-150 characters) got the best click rates and CTOR. Publishing emails displayed the same pattern as events emails, though for charity emails, short subject lines had the highest open, click, and click-to-open rates.
Overall, across the 6 sectors studied, despite an open rate peak for emails with 20 characters, longer subject lines (100+ characters) appeared to deliver better open, click, and click-to-open rates. This compares with recent studies from MailerMailer and Informz, which found shorter subject lines to clearly have the best open rates, though with mixed results for click rates.
Word Count Results Similar
Further results from the Adestra show that word count length has a similar effect to that of character count, but is amplified. Email subject lines that are a single word have a spike in open, click, and click-to-open rates relative to the average, though all metrics dip in response rates alongside increasing word length, until 15 words and longer, when they begin to rise and hit new peaks.
Looking at the results by sector, some interesting patterns emerge. For e-commerce emails, 1-word subject lines had the highest open rate, but 4-word lines had the best highest CTOR relative to the average. For events emails, shorter word counts (2-5) delivered the best open rates relative to the average, but longer word counts (19 and up) delivered both the best click and click-to-open rates relative to the average.
For the publishing sector, the results were clearer: longer subject lines delivered generally higher-than-average open, click, and click-to-open rates, aside from a spike at 2 words. For the charity sector, short subject lines did well for open and click rates, and longer counts (14 words and up) performed worst for click-to-open rates.
In the B2B and B2C sectors, open, click, and click-to-open rates were generally better for longer word counts, though 2-word subject lines performed best overall in the B2B sector.
“Coupon” Fares Worst Among Offer Terms
Notably, the study finds that for the e-commerce sector, the word “coupon” has open rates that are 55.6% below the average for offers emails, with click rates also 85.8% below-average and CTOR 68.1% below-average. This appears to be in direct contradiction to results from an Epsilon study also released in July, which found that the keyword “coupon” was tops for email opens. However, that study only measured the 2011 holiday season, which may explain the discrepancy in results.
According to Adestra, the words “sale” and “% off” performed best in click rates and CTOR relative to the average for offer emails, and also perform among the best for open rates.
For the events sector, using currency (particularly $ signs), first names, “thousands,” or “millions” can have an uplift for all 3 metrics.
For the publishing sector, “video” and “exclusive” perform very well relative to the average, while the terms “newsletter,” “research”, “report,” “forecast,” and “intelligence,” all perform significantly below-average.
For the charity sector, the words “appeal” and “donate” fare poorly compared to the average, while “give” has above-average results.
For the B2B sector, currency symbols, as well as words such as “profit,” “revenue,” “turnover,” and “referral” perform markedly above-average, while the term “B2B” shows very poor response rates.
For the B2C sector, “sale,” “% off,” “video,” “exclusive,” and “new” perform best, while “coupon,” “half price,” “free,” and currency symbols are below-average.
According to a July 2012 report [pdf] from Experian, including the word “exclusive” in the subject line can provide a lift of 14% in promotion mailings (15.9% with vs. 14% without). Similarly, subject lines including “top 10″ or “top 5″ deliver open rates 13% higher than promotional emails without them (16.1% vs. 14.3%).
Also per the Experian findings, emails asking customers to rate and review purchased items generate 2 times higher open rates, 39% higher click rates, 22% higher transaction rates, and 32% higher revenue per email.
About the Data: The Adestra study campaigns had more than 5,000 recipients per campaign, but were not limited to large campaigns. The study was conducted across the client basis without regard to list size.
One tip you didn't mention, but has dramatically increased customer call back rates from emails sent, is to put the salesperson or BDC rep's personal cell phone number in the subject line... From a smart phone this enable the customer to tap the now live phone number and call without punching a number into the phone's keypad. In some cases, I have seen customer calls from emails sent go up by over 300% by including the sender's cell phone number in the email subject line. Believe it or not, I've listened to sales people tell me they were not going to do it anymore because they were getting too many phone calls from customers! BTW, never put toll free numbers into subject lines (spam filter flag trigger) and using switchboard numbers does not work either... Has to be a personal cell phone that shows the employees name on reverse white page lookup.…
ge on smart phones. There is also the "search" factor with web based email clients such as Gmail which weigh words in the subject line higher than body text. Whatever is going on, one thing is for certain... The way people choose which email messages to open and read is both evolving and changing from the way it was done a few years ago. For example, the percentage of all emails being viewed on mobile devices is dramatically higher today than just 2 years ago... Despite the rise of the iPhone ( which I am using right now) Blackberry is the top selling brand of phone in the USA for 2009 YTD through the end of July. The shift from desktop PC to mobile devices may be having a big impact on the way emails are being selected for opening and downloading content that remains on servers until the mobile device calls for it. This may be resulting in a greater positive impact from more info in subject lines versus less... And, that is the way I see it changing as well based on data from over 3,000,000 outbound emails being sent from our servers on behalf of over 2,000 dealers.…
uple of years ago. To this day it resides on my desktop.
Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, there are just some folks that we will NEVER figure out.
This piece really helps my perspective, every time I read it.
Among the Inept, Researchers Discover, Ignorance Is Bliss
By Erica Goode
There are many incompetent people in the world. Dr. David A. Dunning is haunted by the fear that he might be one of them.
Dunning, a professor of psychology at Cornell, worries about this because, according to his research, most incompetent people do not know that they are incompetent.
On the contrary. People who do things badly, Dunning has found in studies conducted with a graduate student, Justin Kruger, are usually supremely confident of their abilities -- more confident, in fact, than people who do things well.
"I began to think that there were probably lots of things that I was bad at, and I didn't know it,'' Dunning said.
One reason that the ignorant also tend to be the blissfully self-assured, the researchers believe, is that the skills required for competence often are the same skills necessary to recognize competence.
The incompetent, therefore, suffer doubly, they suggested in a paper appearing in the December issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.
"Not only do they reach erroneous conclusions and make unfortunate choices, but their incompetence robs them of the ability to realize it,'' wrote Kruger, now an assistant professor at the University of Illinois, and Dunning.
This deficiency in "self-monitoring skills,'' the researchers said, helps explain the tendency of the humor-impaired to persist in telling jokes that are not funny, of day traders to repeatedly jump into the market -- and repeatedly lose out -- and of the politically clueless to continue holding forth at dinner parties on the fine points of campaign strategy.
In a series of studies, Kruger and Dunning tested their theory of incompetence. They found that subjects who scored in the lowest quartile on tests of logic, English grammar and humor were also the most likely to "grossly overestimate'' how well they had performed.
In all three tests, subjects' ratings of their ability were positively linked to their actual scores. But the lowest-ranked participants showed much greater distortions in their self-estimates.
Asked to evaluate their performance on the test of logical reasoning, for example, subjects who scored only in the 12th percentile guessed that they had scored in the 62nd percentile, and deemed their overall skill at logical reasoning to be at the 68th percentile.
Similarly, subjects who scored at the 10th percentile on the grammar test ranked themselves at the 67th percentile in the ability to "identify grammatically correct standard English,'' and estimated their test scores to be at the 61st percentile.
On the humor test, in which participants were asked to rate jokes according to their funniness (subjects' ratings were matched against those of an "expert'' panel of professional comedians), low-scoring subjects were also more apt to have an inflated perception of their skill. But because humor is idiosyncratically defined, the researchers said, the results were less conclusive.
Unlike unskilled counterparts, the most able subjects in the study, Kruger and Dunning found, were likely to underestimate their competence. The researchers attributed this to the fact that, in the absence of information about how others were doing, highly competent subjects assumed that others were performing as well as they were -- a phenomenon psychologists term the "false consensus effect.''
When high-scoring subjects were asked to "grade'' the grammar tests of their peers, however, they quickly revised their evaluations of their own performance. In contrast, the self-assessments of those who scored badly themselves were unaffected by the experience of grading others; some subjects even further inflated their estimates of their own abilities.
"Incompetent individuals were less able to recognize competence in others,'' the researchers concluded.
In a final experiment, Dunning and Kruger set out to discover if training would help modify the exaggerated self-perceptions of incapable subjects. In fact, a short training session in logical reasoning did improve the ability of low-scoring subjects to assess their performance realistically, they found.
The findings, the psychologists said, support Thomas Jefferson's assertion that "he who knows best knows how little he knows.''
And the research meshes neatly with other work indicating that overconfidence is common; studies have found, for example, that the vast majority of people rate themselves as "above average'' on a wide array of abilities -- though such an abundance of talent would be impossible in statistical terms. This overestimation, studies indicate, is more likely for tasks that are difficult than for those that are easy.
Such studies are not without critics. Dr. David C. Funder, a psychology professor at the University of California at Riverside, for example, said he suspects that most lay people have only a vague idea of the meaning of "average'' in statistical terms.
"I'm not sure the average person thinks of 'average' or 'percentile' in quite that literal a sense,'' Funder said, "so 'above average' might mean to them 'pretty good,' or 'OK,' or 'doing all right.' And if, in fact, people mean something subjective when they use the word, then it's really hard to evaluate whether they're right or wrong, using the statistical criterion.''
But Dunning said his current research and past studies indicated there are many reasons why people would tend to overestimate their competency and not be aware of it.
In various situations, feedback is absent, or at least ambiguous; even a humorless joke, for example, is likely to be met with polite laughter. And faced with incompetence, social norms prevent most people from blurting out "You stink!'' -- truthful though this assessment may be.
Welcome to Automotive Digital Marketing
Please use the "Sign Up" link above to complete your registration form and become a member of the industry's leading Automotive Marketing and Internet Sales Professional Community. ADM members have access to resources, connections and private events that provide them with a competitive advantage.