‘Choice’ In The Subject Line Boosts Engagement

Man Overwhelmed by beverage choices @lauriesullivan, at Media Post shared some interesting data regarding engagement results from email and text message campaigns. Engagement where the recipient has a ‘choice’ in the matter, i.e., click to request a coupon versus just sending the coupon, had a significant impact on open rates and conversions.

Experian Marketing Services released its quarterly email benchmark report Q2 2015 focusing on engagement rates and duel subscriber rates, those who subscribe to email and some sort of alternative communication, like mobile text of push messages on their device.

“Customers who texted to get a coupon were more willing to complete a purchase than those receiving a push campaign, but both message types were successful in generating revenue.”

Analysts also looked at consumers who subscribe to both email, whether opened on a smartphone or desktop, and some other form of communication such as mobile text or push messages on their device.

In the analyses of SMS and MMS messaging programs from two brands it turns out dual subscribers were 3.9 times more likely to complete transactions than email-only customers. Transaction rates for mobile campaigns were 10-times higher than those for email campaigns

More than half of all email opens and 38% of clicks occur on mobile devices, but sometimes it takes two channels to make a campaign work. So, to better understand the value of mobile subscribers, Experian Marketing Services analyzed case studies from two brands with on-going SMS and MMS messaging programs. In both cases, analysts could attribute transactions to mobile campaign data by subscriber.

Consider this: signing up to receive emails, subscribers can open those emails on desktop, tablet, e-reader or mobile device. Mobile SMS and MMS require a separate opt-in. In the first analysis, “Brand A,” which sends emails and SMS messages announcing seasonal products, wanted to see if email subscribers who also provide their mobile phone numbers transact more in any one channel, compared with email-only subscribers.

Comparing both, Experian found significant increases in the percentage of mobile and email subscribers who had completed transactions. Dual subscribers (22.5%) were 3.9-times more likely to make a transaction, compared with email only subscribers (5.7%).

The second study with another brand analyzed SMS and MMS campaigns during eight months from another brand. It compared two types of mobile campaigns for Brand B, broadcast campaigns, in which the brand pushed SMS to the subscriber, such as a sale starts tomorrow, and pull campaigns, in which customers texted to get an offer such as “Save 25% off with in-store coupon- code XXX123.”

SMS push or broadcast campaigns made-up more than 95% of the volume, but pull messages added to stronger transaction results. It also compared transaction rates with Experian email benchmarks finding that mobile transaction rates were more than 10-times higher than the all industry average email transaction rate at 0.64% for all mobile campaigns compared to 0.06% for all industry email.

Customers who texted to get a coupon were more willing to complete a purchase than those receiving a push campaign, but both message types were successful in generating revenue. The overall revenue per message was $0.32, which is more than 3-times higher than the all industry revenue per email for this period at $0.09.

The Best (and Worst) Words to Use in an Email Subject Line

Can you guess which words can make or break an email campaign? A new study reveals the answers.

This was originally posted on Direct Marketing News.

Marketers need to be black and white about the value of an email message. And there’s no better place to do that than in the subject line. In fact, a new study from email marketing agency Alchemy Worx reveals which words are more likely to prompt an open—and which ones simply turn readers off.

The study shows that “a single word can make a dramatic difference,” said Dela Quist, founder and CEO of Alchemy Worx, in a written release. But Quist and his team insist that even prolific testing methods, like A/B testing, aren’t enough to determine which words work the best and which fall flat. They point out that these popular methods, including A/B and multivariate testing, allow marketers to experiment with only a few subject lines at a time.

In this study, however, strategists at Alchemy Worx used their tool, Touchstone, to search a database of more than 21 billion emails to compare and cull the best and worst performing words in the subject line. The agency looked at the top and bottom words overall, and then sorted for varying industries. They determined exactly how much better, or worse, these words performed compared to average email open rates. The study even examined the best- and worst-performing symbols in the email subject line.

The findings are interesting.

The top five words that brands can use to prompt more opens are: “upgrade” (65% higher open rate), “just” (64%), “content” (59%), “go” (55%), and “wonderful” (55%). Those are the top five words overall.

Best Performing Words


Word Open Rate (vs Average) Rank
Upgrade 65.68% 1
Just 64.76% 2
Content 59.05% 3
Go 55.84% 4
Wonderful 55.10% 5


Things shift dramatically, however, when you zero in on separate industries. The top word for the entertainment industry, for example, is “content”—perhaps not a surprise. Readers expect a plethora of content from publishers and media companies.

For retailers, however, the top words are “painting” (18%), “ships” (13%), “please” (7%), “notice” (6%), and “recipe” (5%). The top word in the travel industry is “about” (26%), consumer services is “wonderful” (55%), and for the technology industry, “upgrade” (66%).

Equally as interesting are the overall worst-performing words: “miss” (-4.6%), “deals!” (-4.38%), “groovy” (-4.26%), “conditions” (-4.04%), and “Friday!” (-4%). “Monday,” ironically, is the worst performing word for the media industry; “groovy” (-4.3%) is the worst for retailers.

Worst Performing Words

Word Open Rate (vs Average)
Miss -4.60%
Deals! -4.38%
Groovy -4.26%
Conditions -4.04%
Friday! -4.00%


Symbols and emojis are becoming more common in email subject lines. The best-performing symbol is a snowman (65%), followed by an emoji of the sun (21%), and a star (11%). The worst symbol is a human figure pointing to the right (-9.52%).

Obviously, each business has to determine what’s best for itself and its customers. But whether email marketers follow these findings or not, they need to “look at the finer details,” said Alchemy Worx’s Quist in the release. He suggests that as marketers craft their email campaigns  they remember this: “The subject line is the most important part of an email…By looking at the finer details, such as the best and worst words to use within the subject lines, [we] can manage campaigns to ensure they achieve the best click-through rates and conversions.”

Content Considerations For Your Automated Email Program

by Loren McDonald, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014

Clients who are adding potentially dozens of automated email messages to their marketing program often ask, “How am I going to come up with all that extra content when I still need to move multiple broadcast messages out the door?”

Good news! It’s not as daunting a process if you follow a content strategy built around this five-step framework:

1. Consider what kind of relationship you have with your customer and/or where you want it to go. Is your intended recipient a lower-value frequent buyer or an infrequent shopper who racks up sizable orders? Is she a first-time site visitor who just signed up for your emails but hasn’t bought yet? These different customer types require different kinds of content.

Customize a standard cart-abandonment email for your different customer sets as your data dictate. Customers with a high lifetime value might receive a loyalty-points incentive or 2-for-1 offer, while a first-time buyer might receive a 10%-off offer.

2. Your email should reflect the customer’s stage in the purchase process. Did your customers spend time on a specific product page without buying? Your browse-abandonment email might link to a helpful calculator, buying-tip video or helpful reviews that can move them to the next purchase stage.

A cart-abandonment remarketing message might focus instead on product benefits, star ratings, alternative items — and, potentially, an incentive or creative packaging of related products.

3. Understand how tablets and smartphones change the reading and conversion dynamic. Optimizing emails for a multiscreen world should already be a focus, but mobile-device screens can create additional challenges for your automated messages.

Order and transactional messages with blocks of copy in a tiny font might not show so well on a small screen. Cross-sell offer buttons that work fine with a mouse could be a disaster with fingers.

Many triggered emails incorporate multiple dynamic content blocks into their messages based on data from third-party services such as recommendation and product-review software. You might have little control over how copy and images are presented from these feeds, making mobile optimization less than ideal.

Finally, some of your transactional and service-oriented messages might link to login pages, shopping carts or forms. Have you optimized these pages for mobile devices?

4. Review your existing content assets to see which you can customize for automated messages. You probably have much of the content you’ll need to populate your new set of automated messages. Consider these sources:

  • Website content
  • Ebooks, white papers and conference scripts
  • PowerPoint presentations
  • Product manuals, catalogs and customer-service scripts
  • Broadcast email content
  • Social media or user-forum comments and questions
  • Customer reviews and recommendations

Although you’ll have to tweak or customize the content for your email, it’s probably good enough to start with. Go back later to optimize.

5. Write copy that differentiates between real-time and scheduled messages. Urgency will dictate the tone in your message copy. Reminders to complete a purchase or to finish a process will require different wording from a deadline-driven message like a restocking or account-renewal reminder. Both of those, in turn, will sound different from a birthday greeting.

Consider the abandonment email. An overly aggressive message (“Hey! Come back and check out!”) could turn off a skittish customer. A service-oriented tone (“Did you have a problem with our site?”) turns this message into a helpful inquiry.

Use This Framework to Focus Your Content Approach

These five steps will help you choose the right content for each message and reap the inherent benefits that triggered messages bring to a complete email-marketing program: more relevant messaging that can lead to increased engagement, more conversions and higher revenue per email, which ultimately enriches your bottom line.

Until next time, take it up a notch!

Loren McDonald is vice president of industry relations for Silverpop, a leading provider of engagement marketing solutions for both BtoC and BtoB marketers.

The Consumer Email Habit Loop

The Consumer Email Habit Loop
by Kara Trivunovic, Monday, June 24, 2013

I recently started reading “The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business,” by Charles Duhigg. Going in, I wanted to tap the information about the habits of successful organizations, but as it turns out, I’ve found myself absolutely intrigued by the science behind the development (and re-development) of habits in individuals.

A major theme of the book focuses on the idea of a three-step habit loop that turns our everyday behaviors into auto-pilot habits. I’ll argue that email marketers have created a similar three-step email habit loop with consumers and subscribers. But are we using the habit loop effectively, to bring marketers the results we want?

The three stages of the habit loop are

  1. cue,
  2. routine and
  3. reward.

The cue is what triggers the behavior; the routine is the physical, emotional or mental action that is taken as a result of the cue/trigger; and the reward is… well, the reward for completing the routine. In addition, there is one critical element that writes this loop to the brain, emblazoning it as a habit: the craving.

You can find this psychology embedded somewhere in just about every good and lasting marketing campaign. As marketers, we create the cue, incent the routine and provide the reward – with the goal of instilling that craving that compels the consumer to complete the habit loop again.

Armed with this knowledge, how can you use it deliberately to strengthen your email marketing programs? Let’s start with where most marketers are today. The cue occurs when subscribers get their email (could be the blinking of a light on the phone, a vibration or a noise, even a time of day). The routine is for them to check that email, and the reward (hopefully) is to receive a relevant and timely discount or sale from the brand(s) they love. The question remains, though: Have you successfully created anticipation and craving for more?


In addition to the simple receipt of the email, marketers can further enhance cues with “from” names and compelling subject lines. There’s probably some optimal combination of “from” name, subject line, brand perception and timing that creates the optimal cues for the customer and drives the routine.

But what you think is the right cue may not be. Duhigg uses Febreze® air freshener and odor eliminator as an example. Initially, researchers felt the right cue would be the bad smells that occur for certain consumers, like pet owners, park rangers, and parents with teenagers. But they found this cue to be unsuccessful. Ironically, the people who most needed to eradicate strong odors had grown so accustomed to them that they didn’t recognize that they had a problem! Instead, the successful cue was the simple act of vacuuming. Look at the cues you are using for your programs carefully, and validate that they are, in fact, the cues that will drive your success.


As an email marketer, you likely want to accomplish one of these routines in your habit loop: repeatable site traffic, open and/or click on your email content, and/or conversion or completion of the desired task. To drive the routine, you may need to encourage or nudge the customer in the proper direction the first few times. Febreze gave households free samples and suggested spraying a room when the vacuuming was complete. It doesn’t hurt to actually tell the customer what it is you are asking of them.


What rewards are you offering your customers? Discounts, sales, coupons, insight, information? The reward must be worthwhile and of value to the customer — but that doesn’t mean it always has to be monetary. Febreze completed its habit loop with a reward of the fresh smell of a clean room as the test participants walked out of the rooms. A fresh scent (and a sense of accomplishment) was all it took to drive Febreze’s success — which continues today.

If you apply the habit loop framework to common activities in your life, you’ll find it easy to begin dissecting the concept and identifying how applicable it really is? For example, is Facebook the first page you look at when you pop open your browser? These are the types of habits we should be striving to drive with the email programs we send — so much so that the consumer anticipates the message from your brand and craves the reward that you provide. If you don’t believe your programs are driving to an effective habit loop, now is as good a time as any to start working toward it.

But the reality is that marketers have their own email habit loop. I’ll explore this with you in my next post. Meanwhile, I encourage you to start exploring your cues and rewards. And as you do, ask yourself the critical question: “Is my email habit-forming?”
Post your response to the public Email Insider blog.

See what others are saying on the Email Insider blog.

Kara Trivunovic is Vice President of Strategic Services for BlueHornet, an enterprise email service provider.
Email Insider for Monday, June 24, 2013:

Email Marketing Works

From the Center for Media Research

According to a quick data study by Docstoc, 94% of all internet users use the internet to send or read e-mails. That is more than any other activity.

More than:

  • The use of search engines (87%)
  • The use of maps and finding directions (86)
  • Checking the weather (81%)
  • Getting news (75%)
  • Buying a product (66%)
  • Using social networking sites (61%)

Additionally, studies have found that in 2011 email marketing had a return on investment (ROI) of 4,000%. Email marketing works and it is worth the effort, says the report. 85% of small business owners plan to increase their use of email marketing in 2013.

Email open rates are the highest within 1 hour of delivery, 24% of all emails are opened within 1 hour of delivery.

Email Stats (% of Responses; % of Group)
Arrival Time % of Emails Open Ratio (OR) Click-Through Rate (CTR)
12am-6 am
















Source: Docstoc, February 2013

For more information and planning tools from Docstoc, please visit here.

6 Ways To Integrate Social Media and Email Marketing

Instead of making email obsolete, the extensive use of social media has made email an even more valuable channel. Social media gives marketers another option for engaging with their communities and reduces “email fatigue.” Leveraging social media also allows marketers to personalize the conversation and make it more targeted.

Below are six essential tactics marketers can use to integrate social media and email to improve their overall marketing results.

1. Use a Social Sign-on. Use a social sign-on on your forms to capture your prospects’ email address to increase email subscription rates. Make it effortless for your visitors by allowing them to opt in via social networks with a click of a button.

2. Add Email Opt-in Offers to Updates. Add a direct call-to-action for prospects to sign up for your email newsletter in your mix of regularly tweeted content. Below are a few ideas to build your email list using Twitter:

  • Direct call to action (including benefits of joining) to sign up for emails from your company;
  • Gated content that requires a form completion before accessing the additional full version;
  • Sweepstakes, promotions and contests that require registration; and
  • Email-only promotions with a reminder to sign up for the email to participate in the exclusive offer.

3. Include Social Network Icons in Emails. Adding social network icons to your emails and allowing subscribers to share content will increase virility and will also maximize your reach per email. Include them in the header or footer to ensure they are bold and visible. By making your email content easily sharable, you can reach a new audience by tapping into your email subscribers’ network. The more people who share your email, the more opportunity for other people to read your message and become subscribers.

4. Coordinate Marketing Channels for Integrated Marketing Campaigns. Engage with your community across email and social channels. When you add new opt-in subscribers from social media, follow up by sending them an email. Make sure you have tracking and analytics in place to help you understand in what channels your audience prefers to engage with your company/brand.

5. Add an Email Opt-in Form on Your Facebook Page. According to a Silverpop study, only 10 percent of brands currently use Facebook to increase email subscribers. Opens in a new windowThis is a clear, low-hanging opportunity to turn your Facebook fans into new subscribers. You can either create a Facebook app with a form or simply create a Facebook post with a call to action to subscribe to your email newsletter.

6. Send Dedicated Emails. Directly ask your subscribers to follow your brand on Twitter, “Like” your brand on Facebook or follow your company on LinkedIn. Be sure to describe the benefit they will get from taking the next step of connecting with you on that social network.

While many marketers use both social media and email in their marketing campaigns, most companies are missing out on the benefits of integrating the two channels. With integration between your social media and email efforts, you can achieve even greater resultsOpens in a new window.

Jennifer WongOpens in a new window is a digital marketing specialist at Seattle-based B-to-B inbound marketing software provider OptifyOpens in a new window. Reach her at jennifer@optify.net.

How To Design Great-Looking, High-Performing Mobile Email

Some timely tips as we get ready to tackle email campaigns:

by Zephrin Lasker, Monday, Aug. 20, 2012

It’s fair to say that smartphones have experienced explosive growth within the U.S. According to Canalys Research, there were more smartphones shipped in America last year than tablets, desktops and laptops combined.

And what are people doing on their smartphones? They are posting pictures on social networks. They are throwing eggs on pigs that have stolen eggs from birds. But one thing they are doing more than anything else is checking email. According to ExactTarget, 88% of smartphone owners check their email on their phone at least once a day.  In addition, if all U.S. mobile Internet time was condensed into an hour, email would account for as much as twenty-five minutes.

Knowing how to design great mobile email is one of the cornerstones of a great mobile advertising campaign. You could be running a mobile search campaign driving people to a landing page optimized for driving sign-ups. Or you could be running signup ads on mobile apps to capture the email addresses of people who are interested in your business. No matter what type of campaign you are running, you need to design great looking mobile email if you want to extend that first point of contact into a long-term relationship.

Using these simple tips, you’ll be able to do just that.

Design for mobile first. There are more design requirements for mobile devices than for other devices, so you should design for mobile first.

  • Avoid complex email designs, such as Flash or large blocks of text, as they have the potential to break or not render correctly on mobile phones.
  • Contrast the color scheme. Contrasting colors will be easier to read and more visible on small screens.
  • Size your text appropriately. Text should be at least 12 pixels, but Apple recommends 17-22 pixels for iPhones. Avoid blocks of text over 320 pixels wide, as anything larger will be difficult to read on iPhones.
  • Place the most important message first, even if this doesn’t mirror the HTML version. This will be one of the first things that users see on their mobile device, so be sure it’s what makes the most impact.

Design for touch. People use their fingers — not cursors — to interact with smartphone and tablet screens. When pressed against a screen, a finger can cover a 44 x 44 pixel touch area, so be sure to design accordingly.

Mobile users also scroll, tap and pinch, but they never hover or click as they would on a desktop. For this reason, you should create call-to-action links and buttons that are at least 30 x 44 pixels in size, with 10-15 pixels of padding for optimal user experience. This way, users can navigate without expanding the screen. This will also ensure that enough space will exist between clickable items so that a user doesn’t accidentally click on the wrong link.

Keep it short and simple. The same guidelines that apply to writing good signup and search ad copy apply to mobile email. Keep it short. Keep it simple. On the mobile screen, less is much, much more.

  • Some mobile inboxes truncate subject lines, so place vital information (like your call-to-action) first.
  • Make sure your subject line is clear and short — around 60 characters or less. Doing so could increase your open rates.
  • Since you’ve got limited real estate to convey your message, consider promoting your offer and call-to-action in the pre-header, along with your standard “view in browser” link.

Preview your mobile email. Before you deploy your email campaign, be sure to view it in a mobile email preview tool, and test it across different browsers and different phones. You can use tools like DeviseAnywhere, iphonetester, PreviewMyEmail or Campaign Monitor to test your email.

Your mobile ad is only your first point of contact with your consumer or prospect. By designing great mobile email, you can build a long-term relationship with consumers and keep them engaged with your business.

Zephrin Lasker is the CEO and co-founder of Pontiflex. Reach him here.