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No Link Between Short Subject Lines and Email Open Rates, Study Finds

For years, writers resisted the theory that bigstock-Open-Rates-in-letters-and-enve-85013735.jpgshorter email subject lines translated to higher open rates, but they faced mighty opposition from people who huffed and puffed, “brevity is best.”

Now a recent study has blown all that huffing and puffing away.

An influential Nectafy study, involving more than 500,00 emails, confirms what writers knew all long: “Subject line length doesn’t really impact open rate at all.”

What does this mean for businesses that regularly send emails to clients and customers and develop email campaigns? First they must grasp the significance of the study. Only then can they can act on tips provided by Hubspot and create subject lines that blow away the competition.

Large sample size, huge implications

Nectafy inspected 579,169 emails – an enormous sample size – and found 165,054 emails were opened. This finding translates to an open rate of 28.5 percent.

The number of characters in the subject lines of those emails defied a correlation to open rates. The number of characters and the open rate percentages were as follows:

Emotional appeals spawned opening

If anything stands out from these numbers, it's that open rates were surprisingly consistent across all character counts. This strongly suggests the message conveyed in the subject lines, and not the length is what guided recipients' next move – namely, to open the email, delete it or ignore it.

Understandably curious about the subject lines that spawned the highest open rates, Nectafy dug deeper, finding some of the most provocative subject lines and their corresponding open rates included:

Heed these Hubspot tips

Of course, not every business can replicate these subject lines. (Scorecard? What scorecard?) That would be like forcing an awkward keyword construction into a sentence where it can find no graceful place.

At the same time, even the longest subject line there, at 59 characters, is hardly an exhaustive read. By virtue of their one-line format, subject lines have a lot of “work” to do in a tight space: they must be pithy attention-getters that inspire action.

Hubspot offers practical advice, encompassing all these issues to guide your best efforts:

With so much riding on your emails and email campaigns, turn to the marketing experts who can finesse your message against the backdrop of a comprehensive marketing strategy. Call 702-270-8772 or request a free consultation today!

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