Email Exceptionalism: Americans Like Achievement-Based Subject Lines

Now this may or may not mean that America is great again. But a recent poll by Persado shows that Americans respond best to email subject lines that stress achievement, whereas British consumers are affected by those that suggest anxiety.

Persado concedes that it doesn’t know what causes these emotions. Are the British more anxious because of Brexit? Does Donald Trump’s presidency make Americans want to thump their chests?  

Probably not. When Persado says that the British are driven by anxiety, it doesn’t mean that they suffer from mass neurosis; rather, it shows that they respond well to being alerted to “the importance of a message.” 

Let’s cut through the meldrama and look at the effective subjct lines.

UK consumers respond well to lines that imply guilt — i.e., that they will regret not taking an action. This includes lines such as “Don’t miss out,” “It’s too good to miss,” and “Don’t ignore this.”

In contrast, Americans respond best to praise and promises of rewards for accomplishments — for example, “You’ve earned it,” and "You are being rewarded."

Now there’s nothing new here — flattery is one of the oldest direct marketing tools,

In 1925, Time magazine sent personalized letters to people “who are not ‘magazine readers,” and who were said have “little time to take up with new fads.” The objective was to offer the newsweekly to “the busy man and woman of affairs.”

Flattery and exclusivity are also effective in email today. Recipients respond to subject lines like, “Shh! It’s exclusive,” or “Our exclusive live stream access to a private event,” said Jay Schwedelson, CEO of Worldata, in a Webinar earlier this year.

Persado, a provider of AI-driven marketing platforms, studied 3,527 email subject lines from 142 global brands, including British Airways, Gap and Dell, in the U.S., UK and Europe. And it concluded that the results were “shockingly…stereotypical.”

It also found that Yanks also respond to anxiety-based email subject lines — for instance, “Did you forget?” and “Read this very carefully.”

Finally, Persado found that European consumers react best to lines like “We are treating you” and “Get a gift on us.”

They also appreciate expressions of gratitude, such as "We appreciate your loyalty" and "Thank you."

“These data points lay bare the fact that there is more than an element of truth in some of the broader stereotypes associated with consumers across the UK, USA and Europe,” states Assaf Baciu, co-founder and SVP product & engineering, Persado.

Yes. But the final takeaway? Test everything.



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