Context In Headlines Boosts Email Engagement

Readers are more likely to click on emails with subject lines that clearly define what lies behind the headline, according to research released this week from HubSpot.  

Email marketers have very little time to capture a reader’s attention and first impressions can make or break an email marketing campaign, considering that 9% of all emails are deleted before ever being read, per Return Path. Email marketers are also pressed for time once an email is opened, with the average email read rate under three seconds

HubSpot, an inbound marketing and sales software company, partnered with content delivery platform Outbrain to investigate the data behind subject-line optimization in a study of over 3.3 million English-language subject lines. The results conclude that consumers are more likely to click on an email when they have a good idea of the content the email contains.



Headlines containing the word “photo” drove an increase in engagement by 37% and bracketed clarifications in email subject lines, such as Interview or Infographic, increased email engagement rates by as much as 38%.

Of special note to email marketers is that the word "Template" had the highest email engagement rate out of any other bracketed terms according to the HubSpot and Outbrain report, followed by "Quick Tip," "Free Download" and "Infographic."

Subject lines can also lead to decreased email engagement, according to the study -- especially when offering instructions or overly positive superlatives.

Subject lines containing the words "easy," "how to," "credit," "cure," "magic," "best," "always" and "free" all had significantly lower engagement rates.

Making references to the reader by using the words "you," "your," or "you’re" in the headline also decreases email engagement rates, according to HubSpot and Outbrain.

Subject-line optimization is an easy strategy for all email marketers to implement, regardless of team size and budget. There are also several freemium models for subject-line optimization for email marketers without the resources for multivariate testing platform.

Phrasee Pheelings Lite is the free version of Phrasee Pheelings, a subject-line optimization software that interprets the language based on human emotion to predict how email recipients will react to any given subject line.

CoSchedule also offers a free headline analyzer that grades subject lines based on common, uncommon, emotional and power words, as well as word and character count.


1 comment about "Context In Headlines Boosts Email Engagement ".
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  1. Christopher Weakley from Virgo, March 2, 2016 at 7:19 p.m.

    Kath Pay had a great post about contextual subject lines a few months ago. If you liked this article, I highly recommend it:

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