Subject Lines that Convert

A review of 100+ successful subject lines reveals what motivates
people to open (or delete) an...
We’re sharing on Twitter!
#WebClinic
Today's Speaker
@FlintsNotes
Dr. Flint McGlaughlin – Managing Director, MECLABS
Flint McGlaughlin is the Managing Director...
Top Obstacles in Email
Staffing, expertise

Creating consistent, relevant content

Source: © 2013 MarketingSherpa Email Ma...
It evaluates performance
based on:
• Over 400 unique rules
• 1 billion+ sent and tracked
email messages

messages
rules

1...
Test Scenario 1



Experiment ID: (protected)
Location: MarketingExperiments Research Library
Test Protocol Number: TP209...
Test Scenario 1
Test Protocol ID: TP2092

Total Score
Version A

Looking for a lower mortgage rate? You’re not alone.

(ou...


Accurate Prediction
Version B & C generated a statistically significant improvement over A

Subject Line

Tool
Score

O...


Accurate Prediction
Mostly Accurate Prediction
B&C
Version C still generated a statistically significant improvement ov...
Test Scenario 2



Experiment ID: (protected)
Location: MarketingExperiments Research Library
Test Protocol Number: TP207...
Test Scenario 2
Test Protocol ID: TP2078

Total Score
(out of 100)

Version A

Choose from 2 ways to save big on the NEW
[...
Inaccurate Prediction
While Version A generated a statistically significant response, Version B did not
Subject Line

Tool...
Inaccurate Prediction
While Version A generated a statistically significant response, Version B did not
Subject Line

Tool...
Test Scenario 3
Test Protocol ID: TP2076

Sent to: Rented list (B2B magazine subscribers)
Total Score
Version A

Target MD...
Inaccurate Prediction
Version B generated a statistically significant higher response than A
Subject Line

A Target MDs wi...
Inaccurate Prediction
Version B generated a statistically significant higher response than A
Subject Line

A Target MDs wi...
Experiment: Results
After rating hundreds of subject lines from our library of statistically significant experiments …

Th...
Experiment: Results
After rating hundreds of subject lines from our library of statistically significant experiments …

25...
So what went wrong with the tool?
Decisions based on industry standards:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

Does not contain a sense o...
Computer Logic vs. Customer Logic
• A computer draws conclusions
from algorithms, rules, switches
and settings.
• A human ...
What We Discovered

F

Key Principles

•

Customers aren’t trying to open your emails, they are trying to eliminate
them.
...
Today’s Focus

Today, we are going to review two effective
approaches to build an immediate connection
through your subjec...
Approach #1:

Connect to an Internal Issue
Connect to an Internal Issue

F

Key Principles

•

An interruption is not enough; we must transfer customer attention int...
Example: Internal Issue
Protocol ID: CS7771
Sent to: Previous (non-active) customer list
From This

[Company Name]: A New ...
Example: Internal Issue
Protocol ID: CS7771
Sent to: Previous (non-active) customer list
From This

[Company Name]: A New ...
Connect to an Internal Issue
Internal Issue Examples:
• Limited resources (time, money, help)

• Unmet expectations (work ...
From TP2137 To This
This,
Protocol ID:
Sent to: Non-paid registrants of the online site

From This

Get Unlimited Access t...
From TP2137 To This
This,
Protocol ID:
Sent to: Non-paid registrants of the online site

From This

Get Unlimited Access t...
From TP2076 To This
This,
Protocol ID:
Sent to: Rented list (B2B magazine subscribers)

From This

Target MDs with Surveys...
From TP2076 To This
This,
Protocol ID:
Sent to: Rented list (B2B magazine subscribers)

From This

Target MDs with Surveys...
From TP2092 To This
This,
Protocol ID:
Sent to: General house promo list

From This

Looking for a lower mortgage rate?
Yo...
From TP2092 To This
This,
Protocol ID:
Sent to: General house promo list

From This

Looking for a lower mortgage rate?
Yo...
Approach #2:

Connect to an External Event
Connect to an External Event
Climax

SUB STORY
Climax

Falling Act.

Rising Act.

Resolution /Exposition

Resolution

Expo...
Connect to an External Event
External Event Examples:
(recent or distant)

• An action or behavior

• A conversation
• A s...
Experiment: Background



Experiment ID: (Protected)
Location: MarketingExperiments Research Library
Test Protocol Number...
Experiment: Treatments
Version A

[Name], Your Account Information is
Ready To View
Version B

It's easy to access your [B...
92.2% Relative Increase in Open Rate

Subject lines A and D significantly outperformed those that did not connect to an ev...
A Final Case Study
Subject Lines that Convert
Experiment: Background



Location: MarketingExperiments Research Library
Test Protocol Number: Pending

Background: Mark...
Experiment: Treatments
Control

Subject lines that convert - MarketingExperiments
Web clinic invite
Version A

What makes ...
18.4% Relative Increase in Click Rate

Subject line B significantly outperformed the original subject line in both open an...
Summary: Putting it all together

F

Key Points

1. Customers aren’t trying to open your emails, they are trying to elimin...
See how you can conduct research with us
MECLABS conducts rigorous experiments in the new science of optimization. We appl...
Subject Lines that Convert: A review of 100+ successful subject lines reveals what motivates people to open (or delete) an...
Subject Lines that Convert: A review of 100+ successful subject lines reveals what motivates people to open (or delete) an...
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Subject Lines that Convert: A review of 100+ successful subject lines reveals what motivates people to open (or delete) an email

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Subject lines have a huge impact on marketing success. Yet, what busy marketer has the time to really focus on the cognitive psychology behind a 75-character subject line?

In this Web clinic, Flint McGlaughlin, Managing Director, MECLABS, will share what an analysis of more than 100 successful subject lines reveal about how people choose to open an email. You will learn the common traits of the most successful email subject line as well as the most common mistakes.

Specifically, we will address the following common questions related to subject lines:

• What makes a subject line engaging?
• What factors make a subject line more likely to be deleted?
• How do we express value through so few characters?
• How long/short should subject lines be?

Published in: Technology, Business

Subject Lines that Convert: A review of 100+ successful subject lines reveals what motivates people to open (or delete) an email

  1. 1. Subject Lines that Convert A review of 100+ successful subject lines reveals what motivates people to open (or delete) an email
  2. 2. We’re sharing on Twitter! #WebClinic
  3. 3. Today's Speaker @FlintsNotes Dr. Flint McGlaughlin – Managing Director, MECLABS Flint McGlaughlin is the Managing Director of MECLABS Group. The organization has partnered with key market leaders including The New York Times, Microsoft Corporation and Reuters Group. Dr. McGlaughlin also serves as the Director of Enterprise Research at the Transforming Business Institute, University of Cambridge (UK), as the Chairman of the Board of Governors for St. Stephen’s University, and as a Trustee for Westminster Theological Centre. Dr. McGlaughlin originally studied Philosophy and Theology at the University of London’s Specialist Jesuit College. Today, his primary research is focused on enterprise as transformative agent. His work has won multiple awards and has been quoted in more than 13,000 online and offline sources.
  4. 4. Top Obstacles in Email Staffing, expertise Creating consistent, relevant content Source: © 2013 MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Study | Methodology: Fielded December 2012, N=745
  5. 5. It evaluates performance based on: • Over 400 unique rules • 1 billion+ sent and tracked email messages messages rules 1 billion+ email 400 unique
  6. 6. Test Scenario 1  Experiment ID: (protected) Location: MarketingExperiments Research Library Test Protocol Number: TP2092 Background: Large financial institution offering mortgages to consumers. Goal: To determine which claim of value will generate the most response. Primary research question: Which subject line will produce the greatest open rate and click rate? Approach: A/B/C single-factorial split
  7. 7. Test Scenario 1 Test Protocol ID: TP2092 Total Score Version A Looking for a lower mortgage rate? You’re not alone. (out of 100) 63 Version B Discover the advantages of [Brand Name] mortgages Version C Own your home sooner with free bi-weekly payments 78 81
  8. 8.  Accurate Prediction Version B & C generated a statistically significant improvement over A Subject Line Tool Score Open Rate Rel. Diff. 18.08% - 19.80% 9.5% A Looking for a lower mortgage rate? You’re not alone. 63 B Discover the advantages of [Brand Name] mortgages 78 C Own your home sooner with free bi-weekly payments 81 ! The tool’s prediction closely matched actual test results 100 100 100 20.99% 16.0%
  9. 9.  Accurate Prediction Mostly Accurate Prediction B&C Version C still generated a statistically significant improvement over A significant improvement over A Subject Line Tool Score Open Click Rel. Rel. RateRate Diff. Diff. A Looking for a lower mortgage rate? You’re not alone. 63 B Discover the advantages of [Brand Name] mortgages 78 C Own your home sooner with free bi-weekly payments 81 ! Based on the tool, version B should have outperformed version A 100 100 100 18.08% 0.61% - - 19.80% 0.57% 9.5% -7.4% 20.99% 16.0% 0.68% 11.3%
  10. 10. Test Scenario 2  Experiment ID: (protected) Location: MarketingExperiments Research Library Test Protocol Number: TP2078 Background: A well-known news publication. Goal: To increase subscriptions from former subscribers who have been absent between one and two years. Primary Research Question: Which subject line will produce the greatest open rate? Approach: A/B/C single-factorial split
  11. 11. Test Scenario 2 Test Protocol ID: TP2078 Total Score (out of 100) Version A Choose from 2 ways to save big on the NEW [PublicationName].com 56 Version B Save 50% on your choice of two new subscription options Version C Home Delivery comes with FREE access to [PublicationName].com 59 50
  12. 12. Inaccurate Prediction While Version A generated a statistically significant response, Version B did not Subject Line Tool Score Open Rate Rel. Diff. 9.43% 50.2% 7.01% 11.7% 6.28% -- A 56 B Save 50% on your choice of two new subscription options 59 C ! Choose from 2 ways to save big on the NEW [PublicationName].com Home Delivery comes with FREE access to [PublicationName].com 50 100 100 100 Based on the tool, version B should have outperformed version A
  13. 13. Inaccurate Prediction While Version A generated a statistically significant response, Version B did not Subject Line Tool Score A 56 B Save 50% on your choice of two new subscription options 59 C ! Choose from 2 ways to save big on the NEW [PublicationName].com Home Delivery comes with FREE access to [PublicationName].com 50 100 100 100 Open Click Rel Rel. Diff. Diff. Rate Rate 1.48% 9.43% 86% 50.2% 7.01%0.76%11.7% -5.3% 6.28%0.80% -- -- Based on the tool, version B should have also outperformed version C
  14. 14. Test Scenario 3 Test Protocol ID: TP2076 Sent to: Rented list (B2B magazine subscribers) Total Score Version A Target MDs with Surveys and Panels (out of 100) 94 Version B Reach 120,000 Physicians through Social Media 76
  15. 15. Inaccurate Prediction Version B generated a statistically significant higher response than A Subject Line A Target MDs with Surveys and Panels B ! Reach 120,000 Physicians through Social Media Tool Score Open Rate Rel Diff. 94 21.30% -- 22.92% 7.6% 100 76 100 Based on the tool, version A should have outperformed version B
  16. 16. Inaccurate Prediction Version B generated a statistically significant higher response than A Subject Line A Target MDs with Surveys and Panels B ! Reach 120,000 Physicians through Social Media Tool Score 94 100 76 100 Open Click Rel Rel Diff. Diff. Rate Rate 0.40% -21.30% -- 22.92% 0.56%7.6%27.6% Based on the tool, version A should have outperformed version B
  17. 17. Experiment: Results After rating hundreds of subject lines from our library of statistically significant experiments … The tool predicts a winner: 31.57% of the time
  18. 18. Experiment: Results After rating hundreds of subject lines from our library of statistically significant experiments … 25¢ Subject Line Rating Tool Check Yours Now! A coin predicts a winner: 50% of the time The tool predicts a winner: 31.57% of the time
  19. 19. So what went wrong with the tool? Decisions based on industry standards: • • • • • • • • • • • Does not contain a sense of urgency Mobile subject line is over 35 characters Length is over 50 characters Contains any word that has more than 8 characters Includes one exclamation mark Use of a word in all caps Includes the word “You” or “Your” Contains comma Starts with Save Use of $ Contains % off
  20. 20. Computer Logic vs. Customer Logic • A computer draws conclusions from algorithms, rules, switches and settings. • A human draws conclusions from context, emotions and desires.
  21. 21. What We Discovered F Key Principles • Customers aren’t trying to open your emails, they are trying to eliminate them. • To prevent elimination, the marketer must ensure an immediate connection with the customer.
  22. 22. Today’s Focus Today, we are going to review two effective approaches to build an immediate connection through your subject lines.
  23. 23. Approach #1: Connect to an Internal Issue
  24. 24. Connect to an Internal Issue F Key Principles • An interruption is not enough; we must transfer customer attention into customer interest. This transfer occurs when we create a space in the customer’s mind that can only be filled with what is coming next. • In most cases, we can create this space by connecting to an internal issue common to our customers, and intensifying the offer’s connection to that issue to attract them towards a potential resolution.
  25. 25. Example: Internal Issue Protocol ID: CS7771 Sent to: Previous (non-active) customer list From This [Company Name]: A New Way to Order While this hints at potential issues in their ordering, it does not make a clear connection
  26. 26. Example: Internal Issue Protocol ID: CS7771 Sent to: Previous (non-active) customer list From This [Company Name]: A New Way to Order To This [Company Name]: Now only 2-meal minimum order This clearly connects the offer to an internal issue experienced by the customer (minimum required cost) 25.3% Increase in opens 196% Increase in clicks
  27. 27. Connect to an Internal Issue Internal Issue Examples: • Limited resources (time, money, help) • Unmet expectations (work and family) • Deficient skillsets (inability or inadequacy) • Operational difficulties (routine usability) • Fragmented perspectives (ignorance or misunderstanding)
  28. 28. From TP2137 To This This, Protocol ID: Sent to: Non-paid registrants of the online site From This Get Unlimited Access to [Newspaper.com] with Home Delivery While customers want access, this does not directly address their trouble getting it (resources)
  29. 29. From TP2137 To This This, Protocol ID: Sent to: Non-paid registrants of the online site From This Get Unlimited Access to [Newspaper.com] with Home Delivery To This Free Unlimited Access to [Newspaper] Online This connects directly to that internal issue and provides a potential way around it 10.1% Increase in opens 33.9% Increase in clicks
  30. 30. From TP2076 To This This, Protocol ID: Sent to: Rented list (B2B magazine subscribers) From This Target MDs with Surveys and Panels This only connects to a general activity of desire and does not address a need to find a new way to do it
  31. 31. From TP2076 To This This, Protocol ID: Sent to: Rented list (B2B magazine subscribers) From This Target MDs with Surveys and Panels To This Reach 120,000 Physicians through Social Media This connects to an internal need to get results faster and to find new ways to justify their personal value (expectation) 7.6% Increase in opens 27.6% Increase in clicks
  32. 32. From TP2092 To This This, Protocol ID: Sent to: General house promo list From This Looking for a lower mortgage rate? You’re not alone. While this connects to a general need, it lacks an internal specificity making it harder to measure in the mind
  33. 33. From TP2092 To This This, Protocol ID: Sent to: General house promo list From This Looking for a lower mortgage rate? You’re not alone. To This Own your home sooner with free biweekly payments 16% Increase in opens 11.3% Increase in clicks
  34. 34. Approach #2: Connect to an External Event
  35. 35. Connect to an External Event Climax SUB STORY Climax Falling Act. Rising Act. Resolution /Exposition Resolution Exposition ACT 1 Beginning (The Setup) ACT 2 Middle (The Confrontation) ACT 3 End (The Resolve) Messages have more meaning when they are presented in a story – i.e., a series of events that build toward a conclusion. When you connect your message to the customer’s external story, it will have more meaning.
  36. 36. Connect to an External Event External Event Examples: (recent or distant) • An action or behavior • A conversation • A single exchange (completed or abandoned) • A cancellation (membership, contract, recurring transactions) • A service interaction
  37. 37. Experiment: Background  Experiment ID: (Protected) Location: MarketingExperiments Research Library Test Protocol Number: TP2121 Background: National B2C, B2B financial company with an online and retail presence. Goal: To increase account activity, engagement. Primary research question: Which subject line will generate the most opens? Approach: A/B/C/D split test (variable cluster)
  38. 38. Experiment: Treatments Version A [Name], Your Account Information is Ready To View Version B It's easy to access your [Bank Name] Accounts Online. Sign On Now Version C Your Accounts are Protected with [Bank Name] Online. Sign On Now Version D Did you forget your [Bank Name] Online username or password? Which of these clearly connect to a recent event in the story of the customer?
  39. 39. 92.2% Relative Increase in Open Rate Subject lines A and D significantly outperformed those that did not connect to an event # Subject Line Open Rate Rel. Diff. A [Name], Your Account Information is Ready To View 30.67% 92.2% D Did you forget your [Bank Name] Online username or password? 24.14% 51.3% C Your Accounts are Protected with [Bank Name] Online. Sign On Now 20.33% 27.4% B It's easy to access your [Bank Name] Accounts Online. Sign On Now 15.96% -
  40. 40. A Final Case Study Subject Lines that Convert
  41. 41. Experiment: Background  Location: MarketingExperiments Research Library Test Protocol Number: Pending Background: MarketingExperiments, a marketing-research publication company. Goal: To increase the open and click rates for a Web clinic promotional email send. Research Question: Which email subject line will generate the highest click rate? Test Design: A/B single-factorial split test
  42. 42. Experiment: Treatments Control Subject lines that convert - MarketingExperiments Web clinic invite Version A What makes a good subject line? Version B Subject lines that fail - Recent research reveals why your emails don't get opened
  43. 43. 18.4% Relative Increase in Click Rate Subject line B significantly outperformed the original subject line in both open and click rates Open Rate % Rel. Change Click Rate % Rel. Change 7.48% - 0.96% - A What makes a good subject line? 7.79% 4.15% 1.08% 12.63% Subject lines that fail - Recent research reveals why B your emails don't get opened 7.93% 6.0% 1.14% 18.44% # - Subject Line Subject lines that convert - MarketingExperiments Web clinic invite ! The subject line that focused on multiple internal needs (understand and meeting expectations) outperformed the original
  44. 44. Summary: Putting it all together F Key Points 1. Customers aren’t trying to open your emails, they are trying to eliminate them. To prevent elimination, the marketer must transfer customer attention into customer interest. This transfer occurs when we create a space in the prospect’s mind that can only be filled with what is coming next. 2. Two effective approaches to create that space in the customer’s mind are to: • • Connect to an internal issue Connect to an external event
  45. 45. See how you can conduct research with us MECLABS conducts rigorous experiments in the new science of optimization. We apply our discoveries to help leaders optimize the financial performance of their sales and marketing programs. Learn more about how you may be a fit for a MECLABS Research Partnership: • Select Research Partnership Opportunities on the postwebinar survey • Contact us directly info@MECLABS.com 1-877-635-0565 x
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