Despite the increase in usage of messaging apps over the years, email continues to be a cornerstone and trusted source of digital communication. Email offers a high level of communication on an intimate level between businesses and individual consumers.

Obviously, consumers love deals and discounted prices, so best practices encourage sale promotions.

But what is the most efficient way for a company to reach its consumers and have its message lead to responses, purchases, and consumer loyalty? Several key factors come to mind, but the biggest one I will explore today will be the subject line.

Who is Reading Your Emails?

One of the most important things to consider is the audience that will be receiving this message. You must keep them top-of-mind in order to have your subject be as relevant and effective as possible. Consider the example comparisons of men vs. women, returning vs. new customers, etc. Here at DEG, we have evaluated some of our retail advertisers who deployed multiple email campaigns through 2015 and took note of what was working.

How to Use Subject Lines Properly

The first thing we noticed was the effective use of the word “sale” in the subject line. Obviously, consumers love deals and discounted prices, so best practices encourage sale promotions. However, overuse of the word “sale” may position your brand as weaker due to constant sales. One notable exception is the Black Friday–Monday holiday period, since customers have come to expect huge sales this time of year. The graph below shows sale subject lines in comparison to email open rates.


Another token that we see as successful is creating a sense of exclusivity or anticipation. Do you promote certain items only through email? Can consumers obtain certain information only available in your email? Maybe your most popular product has a new feature. By referencing upcoming dates (maybe a product release or start of a sale), you can create an amount of anticipation for users to check their email accounts more often. Use these opportunities to create this exclusive experience! Highlighted below are subject lines with this type of theme and their corresponding open rates.


Finally, we investigated a popular tactic of subject lines that promoted action from the user. By highlighting benefits the user can only take advantage of through your email, you can incentivize the open. Calling out the need to enter a survey, redeem a code, etc., can lead a user to click through your email and engage with your brand.

Remember, Remember, When You Are the Sender!

With so many factors to create success with your email campaign, your subject line call is a point of strong focus. The word cloud below gives you a visual on the most used terms within our study. Create exclusivity, build anticipation, and require action. Happy emailing!


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