According to the company’s analysis of 4 billion emails between January and June 2019, the most successful emails often tell exactly what the email includes, such as “newsletter” (31.43% click-to-open rate), “PDF” (30.31%), and “ebook” (27.84%).
Other words that do well in subject lines are “infographic” (35.14% on a very small sample), “free” (22.54%) and “video” (18.76%). Free gets debated but there’s obviously still a time for it, especially in our COVID era. “If you’re promoting a piece of content or a valuable resource, you’re probably better off if you mention it in the subject line,” writes Michal Leszczynski, content marketing manager for GetResponse.
Here are more key takeaways from the report, which you can see in full here:
- Less is more. Open and click rates surged when just one message was sent per week. A sharp decline occurred when the number of weekly emails went from one to two. Marketers that send one newsletter have an average open rate of 33.4%, whereas the rate falls to 26.9% when a second email is added, and falling to below 20% after the fifth email. Now 20% still isn’t bad, if it’s the right 20%—the ones who perhaps convert more, especially if you’re selling high-value offerings.
- Send welcome emails. Their average open rate is over 82% and average click-through rate around 27%. So welcome people to as many things as you can. Also make sure to add something click-worthy to your welcome messages, “a discount code, personalized video, or exclusive content available only to the new subscribers.”
- Go global. We’ve talked before that one advantage of webinars and virtual events is global reach. While the average email is opened by 19% of North Americans, Europeans opened 26.9%, Oceania 25.6% and South America 23.1%. Not quite sure why, but Germany has an average open rate of 40.7% and a click-through rate of around 7%, both double or more of other major countries, including the U.S., Canada, India and the UK. France, Spain and Italy are also high.
- ‘Quality over quantity.’ The GDPR era is helping to increase the use of double opt-in approvals, which both decrease the potential of spam issues and increase overall engagement. Nonprofits were the most likely industry to use double opt-in and, at 21.3%, the only industry with more than a fifth of senders relying on the additional layer of approval. “What’s interesting—but not surprising—is that the industries with a bigger share of confirmed lists also observed the highest average results in terms of opens and clicks,” Mateusz Ruzik, GetResponse product manager said in the survey. “This once again proves that email list quality trumps quantity.”
- Add video. Emails with video still generate the highest engagement rates. “The problem is not all email clients support it, which is why only around 8% of the emails our customers send contain links to videos,” said Ruzik. “For now, the best workaround is to use an image (maybe even a GIF) that looks like a video player and links to your page. That way, you’ll boost your click-throughs and enhance your contacts’ experience as they’ll watch the content in their default browser or video player.”
- Don’t exclude weekends. The two best send times are around 10 am and 1 pm. They are also seeing an increase in click-through rates later in the afternoon, around 6 pm—though this was pre-pandemic. While Monday and Tuesday continue to lead both in terms of average opens and clicks, the click-to-open ratio of Saturday and Sunday were the top two choices. “This may be due to the fact that weekends are much less competitive,” writes Leszczynski. “Combined, Saturday and Sunday account for 18% of all email campaigns sent, while Tuesday on its own, accounts for 17%.”
- Try an emoji in your subject line. In most cases, it’s not about the length of the subject line but rather conveying the message—and sometimes an emoji can do that. The average open rates for emails that contained an emoji in the subject line were 25.02%, almost 3 points higher than the average. But just 3.9% of marketers use them, down from 6.7%. Don’t go overboard and run an A/B test, they recommend.
- You’ll know quickly who to retarget. The timing of a message matters significantly, in part because the message loses its exposure after a while. About a fifth (19%) of email opens happen within the first hour it hits an inbox, and 73% within the first day. With each hour, your chances of getting more opens decrease. After 6 hours, over half of your emails have already been opened. They suggest a flash sale perhaps to those who don’t respond within six hours.
- Use your preheader. The preheader is the first snippet of text in your email that appears next to your subject line. People see it before they even open the email. While only 11% use them, emails with a preheader get much higher average open rates—27.82% vs 21.46%. They also have much more impact than personalized subject lines. A preheader should complement your subject line.