Online Technology for Research & Insight

Research Blog 18 November 2015

Email subject line analysis: some hints and tips

Customers who use the Demographix panel management system to send emails to potential respondents often ask us for advice on email creation. A frequently asked query is: "how can we get potential respondents to open emails and read about the survey?". In the research community, it is generally agreed that a few basic steps can greatly improve response rates from emails, and we wanted to share that advice with you.

1. Shorten subject headers: If you can, keep to three or four words, as these have higher engagement rates than longer subjects. Develop a strategy with your panel management team to keep it "short and simple". But don't forget a call to action also needs to be woven in there. Try something like: "Last feedback day tomorrow".

2. Choose your buzzwords carefully: This may sound a bit counter intuitive, but subject lines with the words "tomorrow" or "yesterday" have better engagement than those using "today". Similarly, "soon" beats "now" for engagement. This suggests a call to action shouldn't be TOO immediate, but a bit deferred.

3. Don't use the word "Free" in a subject line: Data now indicates that this will ensure a much lower engagement than any subject line without the word in it. Maybe people are beginning to realise that there's no such thing as a free lunch.

4. Eliminate #hashtags and URL links: Even though social media is the flavour of the year, email subject lines with #hastags in them do poorly! This is rare, as are subject lines with URLs in them, but let your team know that these should both be avoided at all costs. And think about it, putting a URL link in your subject line that isn't a link to the survey, will defeat the whole purpose of the email. It will also make it look like spam.