words in subject line

What words in the subject line get your emails opened?

By Rieva Lesonsky

While we usually cover trends in this space, this week we’re going to address a trend of a different sort. Trendy words. Not trendy as in a “word of the week,” but words that have been shown to increase or decrease the ROI of your email marketing.

According to a new study from Alchemy Worx, there are certain words used in email subject lines that are more likely than not to get consumers to open that email.

Alchemy Worx looked at 21 billion emails to determine which words ranked best and worst for spurring email recipients to open the emails. The top five words are:

  1. Upgrade— 66 percent higher than average open
  2. Just— 65 percent higher
  3. Content— 59 percent higher
  4. Go— 56 percent higher
  5. Wonderful— 55 percent higher

I don’t know about you, but the effectiveness of some of those words (“just” in particular) surprised me.

The words that performed worse overall:

  • Miss
  • Deal!
  • Groovy
  • Conditions
  • Friday!

I saw the report in Center for Media Research’s Research Brief (which is well worth subscribing to). They point out that the best and worst words vary by industry and that “groovy” performed particularly badly for retailers. As a child of the 1960s, I have to admit I’m shocked anyone (especially retailers) would think the word “groovy” would have any appeal to shoppers today.

Top words for retailers are:

  1. Painting— 18 percent higher
  2. Ships— 13 percent higher
  3. Please— 7 percent higher
  4. Notice— 6 percent higher
  5. Recipe— 5 percent higher

“Wonderful” was tops in consumer services at +55 percent, and I have to admit that surprised me; it seems more of a word of my parents’ generation. For tech businesses, “upgrade” ruled at +66 percent.

The report says more businesses are using symbols and emojis in their subject lines. The best of those:

  1. Snowman— +65 percent
  2. Sun— +21 percent
  3. Star— +11 percent

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+   and Twitter.com/Rieva.