Email Marketing Service Finds that “Boring” Sells Best

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MailChimp recently analyzed over 40 million emails, comparing the subject lines and discovered that campaigns with subject lines considered “boring” were opened far more often than campaigns with slick, hard-sell subject lines.

MailChimp, an online email marketing service created and managed by The Rocket Science Group, recently analyzed over 40 million emails sent from their customers and compared the subject lines from campaigns with the highest and lowest open rates. They discovered that campaigns with subject lines considered “boring” got open rates from 60-87%, while campaigns with slick, hard-sell subject lines got open rates between 1%-14%.

“People get so much spam everyday, they’re trained to ignore any email that even hints of advertising,” said Ben Chestnut, partner at The Rocket Science Group. “If you want customers to actually open your email marketing, don’t go with the screaming used-car salesman approach in writing your subject lines.”

“Just keep it simple,” Chestnut said. “Tell what’s inside- don’t sell it.”

Campaigns that performed well used simple subject lines like “October Newsletter” and “Upcoming Events”. The campaigns that recipients seemed to ignore had subject lines like “Last minute gift – we have the answer!” and “Spring into May Savings.”

“A lot of business owners who are new to email marketing think they’ve got to write subject lines the same way they would write attention-grabbing headlines for print ads,” said Chestnut. “But we’ve found that those tactics don’t work. In fact, they can work against you when it comes to email.”

Common mistakes included using all caps, lots of exclamation points, or writing overzealous benefits copy like, “Save more money now!” The problem is that, in addition to advertising fatigue, users are installing spam filters that look for “spammy” content in the subject lines and body of incoming email. Writing emails with subject lines that promise to “save millions!!!” won’t make it into many inboxes. And those that do will most likely be ignored.

But does that mean that all your subject lines have to be stale and unimaginative? Not necessarily. According to the study, it all depends on what your customers expect from you.

“The study drives home another point – setting the expectations for your audience,” said Chestnut. “Just because your customers sign up for your newsletter doesn’t give you permission to barrage them with promotional emails. It’s important to keep a separate opt-in list for harder-selling promotional emails. Make it clear during the sign-up process about what kinds of communications they'll be receiving.”

To read the study, and to see examples of the best and worst subject lines, visit:

About MailChimp:

MailChimp is an email marketing service created and managed by The Rocket Science Group of Atlanta. Georgia. They make it unbelievably easy for creative people and “design-it-yourselfers” to send great looking HTML email newsletters and promotions to their customers.


Ben Chestnut, Partner

The Rocket Science Group



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