Subject Lines that Get Emails Opened

Alex Mastrianni

Crafting the perfect subject line is no easy task, and many times it’s because there is no such thing as the perfect subject line. Because every audience is different, the best tactics for one group won’t work as well for others. Just like with many other aspects of email marketing, the best way to find out what works for your audience is to do some testing.

The Data Doesn’t Lie

Because we’re data people, we looked at over 5,000 A/B split tests to see what the winners (and losers) of the tests had in common. That’s a lot of tests and lot to analyze, but some things stood out right away. Here are some of the key words and phrases that consistently produced higher open rates:

Use of the word “Complimentary”

At first glance, complimentary just seems like a fancy word for free, doesn’t it? Technically, that’s exactly what it is, but when we were brainstorming why complimentary outperformed free, we presumed it was because complimentary has a “special factor” that free just doesn’t seem to attain. If you tend to use the word free when emailing members about an exclusive benefit, try swapping out for the word complimentary and see how it resonates with your members.

Adding “You” or “Your”

Here’s another instance where a “special factor” — usage of the word you or your — had quite an impact on open rates. When appropriate, use one of these words to add a personal touch to the subject line and connect with readers on a personal level.

Personalizing with First Name

Personalizing your subject line with the reader’s first name might not sound like an earth-shattering suggestion, but it made this list because it’s effective. Subject lines that included a personalized first name had higher open rates than subject lines that didn’t. Just because something might seem like it’s old news doesn’t mean it’s ineffective. Test it out with your audience and see what they think!

Lessons Learned from Winning (and Losing) Subject Lines

I recently presented on this topic with my colleague Viv. We dove into even more data, examined other popular tactics — like using “free” or “save” and playing with subject line length, and even outlined how to properly construct an A/B split test that will really teach you something. You can watch the recording here!

Taking a Data-Driven Approach to Subject Line Creation

If your organization doesn’t currently do any email testing, don’t fret. It’s easy to get started! We created this handy guide that talks subject line trends, outlines the elements of a successful A/B split test, and gives you plenty of ideas for different types of words and phrases to test. Download your free copy and get started with testing today!


About the Author
Alex Mastrianni

As the Marketing Manager at Informz, Alex drives the development and implementation of our content marketing plan and marketing campaigns. Outside of work, Alex is a pop culture junkie, ice cream fanatic, and semi-pro vacation planner.