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Holiday email planning: testing your subject lines for last minute improvements

Holiday email planning

Your holiday campaigns are in full swing, launching left and right. Designs are locked, offers are scheduled and copy is set. But there’s one more thing you can still do to improve your results. The last topic in our holiday email planning series: testing your subject lines takes little time to do, and with the right inspiration, little time to plan too.

Our 2015 Subject Line Report has over 300 keywords to inspire you but, to help you get started, we’ve done some of the work already. Below are some of the words you might consider using and their effect on open and click rates.

10 subject line keywords to use this holiday season

Christmas is a time when increasing email volumes make it difficult to stand out and convince subscribers to open. Now, more than ever, it’s important to have a different strategy to the rest of the year. Try focusing on benefits and outcomes with words like ‘exclusive’, ‘essential’ and ‘ideas’.

With strong competition for a share of attention and the customer’s wallet, discounts and offers are bound to generate interest. ‘Sale’ is good at getting customers to peak in your emails and, if you want to be specific, ‘25%’ will get you more opens than ‘50%’ but less conversions. Decide what your goal is and test!

Keyword

Exclusive
Idea
App
On sale now
Top stories
25%
50%
Essential
Free delivery
Sale

Open rate variance

39%
23%
23%
27%
28%
3%
-7%
20%
13%
11%

Click-through rate variance

80%
45%
27%
57%
58%
23%
33%
23%
24%
45%

10 subject line keywords to avoid this holiday season

The first thing you’ll notice is that some of these words are overused in their respective industries; ‘download’ and ‘ROI’ for B2B, ‘Expo’ for Events, ‘today’ and ‘limited’ for Retail and ‘subscription’ for Media and Publishing. If you’re one of the culprits using them all year long, test a different strategy for Christmas against your regular strategy and see which works best.

Other words like ‘gift’, ‘Christmas’ and ‘holiday’ might seem appropriate for this time of the year, but all your other competitors are likely to think so too. Instead, swap them with some of the positive keywords suggested above, focusing on benefits and outcomes.

Keyword

Gift
Subscription
Christmas
Holiday
Limited 
Cheap
Today
Download
ROI
Expo

Open rate variance

-6%
-24%
1%
-19%
-11%
-41%
–20%
-56%
-203%
-44%

Click-through rate variance

-102%
-145%
-13%
-25%
-37%
2%
-33%
-50%
-1432%
-92%

2015-Subject-line-report-holiday

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