How to boost email open rates
Email subject lines that convey a sense of urgency, such as those that contain the words “urgent” and/or “important,” have open rates that are much higher than normal, according to a recent report by MailChimp.The analysis also found that email recipients are much more intrigued by subject lines that contain positive solicitations rather than negative admonitions: Words such as “announcement” and “invitation” have significantly higher open rates than those containing “reminder” and “cancelled.”

Additional key findings from the report, which was based on data from 24 billion delivered emails.


Personalization Works

  • Name personalization (e.g., including the recipient’s first or last name, or both, in the subject line) generally leads to higher open rates.
  • The most common practice, using only the recipient’s first name, leads to a small but noticeable boost in open rates on average.
  • That effect varies by industry: The use of first names in subject lines has a large positive impact when used in government, creative services, and political emails; however, first-name personalization has a negative impact on open rates for the legal industry.
  • Though the inclusion of both first and last names in subject lines is less common, it has the largest overall positive impact on open rates.

Free vs Freebie

  • Using “Free” in your subject line doesn’t have a large impact on open rates.
  • The medical, travel, and retail indistries should avoid using the work “free,” but the restaurant and entertainment industries can benefit from it.
  • Use of the word “freebie” results in a much larger increase in open rates.

Use of “Cancelled”

  • Using “cancelled” in your subject line has has a negative impact in all industries except for the restaurant industry, where recipients seem more interested in reading on.

Elements that are likely to increase open rates.

  • personalizing subjects
  • marking appropriate emails as urgent
  • thanking your recipients

Choosing words wisely when soliciting donations or reminding your recipients of upcoming events can minimize the number of unopened emails.

The more interesting takeaway, though, is that a single word’s presence can dramatically alter the likelihood that your readers will open your emails. The content of your message is really what determines which words you use, but with so few words in a subject line, each one matters a lot.

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