Capital Letters Will Cost You: Subject Line Study

Worldata has identified a threat to high email open and click-through rates: Excessive capitalization in subject lines.

The company’s CEO Jay Schwedelson discussed the issue this week after announcing that its service had tested 5 million emails to see what is working and what isn’t.  

“If you had ten characters and you capitalized four of them, that’s a negative, whereas if it was 40 characters and you capitalized four latters, that’s okay,” Schwedelson said.

In general, 25% would be the optimal percentage: Anything over that “will have a negative impact,” he added.

The takeaway seems to be that you need short subject lines, with capitals limited to the first letter of each word—as in a news headline.   

Schwedelson also advised emailers to go light on special characters like exclamation points and question marks. “They will always cause more issues,” he said.

On another front, Schwedelson predicted that more subject lines will be enhanced with graphics as capabilities improve within the next few years. “There’s going to be a more graphical element and a lessening of the text,” he said. “Emojis are only the tip of the iceberg.”

He joked, “We’re regressing as a species. We’re going to have hieroglyphics.”

In general, strong promotional subject lines—those that emphasize urgency and exclusivity—will generate the strongest response, Schwedelson added, based on his firm’s research.  

“Newsletter-focused subject lines are almost like wallpaper,” he said. “There’s the date and the volume—not a lot to drive some sort of sale. Then there are lines where people are promoting to get a conversion. That’s what subject lines should be focused on.”

Finally, Schwedelson urged marketers to not ignore the pre-header. “it’s overlooked in email marketing, yet it’s so critical in terms of getting your opened and responded to.” Among other things, mailers should avoid clumsy htmls.

In general, recipients should know the email is “just for them, not for the masses. That’s what drives results,” Schwedelson said., a free service for email marketers, recently was revamped into an ad-supported site. The app is available through the iTunes and Android App stores.



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