Acquiring Traffic

My best email subject line this year (sort of)

Eli Robinson
Wednesday, October 15 2014

It is nearly impossible to over-state the importance of an email's subject line. In my days as a franchise marketer, I've written well into the thousands of subject lines.

To give you an idea of the full gamut of what we're talking about here, here's a smattering of things I've come up with:

  • Franchises Under $50,000
  • Affordable Franchises Are Looking for You
  • Franchises are looking for retirees ready to be entrepreneurs
  • Imagine telling your spouse that the two of you are about to be happier
  • This guy seems to have actually figured out how to make the system work for him
  • You want to open a business. So does your friend. So, what's next?
  • What If I Told You The Answer To Balancing Your Busy Life Is This Easy?

Alrighty, you get the point. If I were to write you a list of all the franchise related subject lines I've come up, we'd need a little more room than a little blog post. (If you want to see what a sample week's worth of subject lines looks like, check out this report from September).

One of the awesome benefits of getting to write all these subject lines is that I get to compare all of them against each other. Sometimes we do this for a single email, sometimes we do it across all emails about a specific topic, and other times we'll do it across the course of an entire month.

The goal of these comparisons is to figure out how we can best engage our audience in terms of catching their attention and escorting them down our conversion funnel.

However, for the purposes of this post, I've done something I've never done before. I went back and analyzed every single subject line from 2014 to determine my best email subject line of all time.

Without getting too much into the details of how I accomplished the analysis, I basically indexed all the open and click rates against an expected open and click rate for that time period. I then compared each email's "score" and got a graph that looked something like this:

2014 Email Subject Line Scores

You'll see a small green line toward the middle of the chart. I've done my best to highlight #1!

Alrighty, I'm guessing you're ready for me to get to the point already. Ok. The number 1 subject line of 2014 was:

You may be able to quit your job in the next 3 weeks. Here's how.

You would not believe the open and click through rate of that puppy. We were seeing a level of open and click rate (especially open) that I had previously thought impossible.

As you read it, you can probably imagine why people opened the email. I, in 15 words, basically offered to solve there people's problems. Whatever was in the email, someone who received this HAD TO open it. And the click through rate is still a function of something amazing that had been promised.

If you remember the title of the post, however, you'll be asking yourself why I included the "sort of." Well, if our business was all about the open and click rate (vanity metrics as we call them) then I wouldn't need it.

But that email was specially designed to get people to fill out a form. And guess what happened when all those people who thought all their problems had been solved were asked to fill out a form?

That's right. Nothin'.

We saw a little bit of conversion, but nothing compared to the "Franchises Under $50,000" subject line that I mentioned earlier.

Why? Because the subject line wasn't directly tied to what we were asking people to do. If I was a recruiter that had a professional opportunity that the people receiving the email would've otherwise not had access to, you can imagine a ridiculously high conversion rate. But opening a franchise? It's just not there.

The moral of the story is that open and click rate are only a small piece of the story. It's all about doing something with those people who click through. Conversion is king.

Wanna know more about subject lines? Let's chat.