Subject Like AB Test for Emails - Data for Education
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Subject Like AB Test for Emails

Subject Like AB Test for Emails

Crafting a subject line can seem like a straightforward process, but for email marketers, the devil is in the details (and the testing). This week we look at 3 lessons learned during our holiday season.

Lesson #1: Be Direct

It is always tempting to opt for the cute or “punny” subject line. During the holiday season, themed headlines are particularly enticing. While we love being festive, we found that a direct approach yielded better results. The subject line, “Urgent classroom request” won across key metrics. The simplicity of that subject line inspired our donor base without needing holiday flair.

Test Results:

Subject line Open rate Click-thru rate Conversion rate
Urgent classroom request
Present!
The most urgent classroom need in Indiana
Decorate this Indiana classroom
Little students. Big wish.
Will Santa visit this classroom?
Indiana’s little learners need you
30%
26%
22%
21%
20%
20%
18%
7.3%
4.1%
5.4%
3.5%
3.5%
3.7%
2.7%
0.8%
0.4%
0.7%
0.2%
0.4%
0.5%
0.2%

Lesson #2: Look Closer

Be sure to pay attention to all metrics, not just the open rates. In the table above you can see that the “Present!” subject line actually achieved a higher open rate than one of the urgent subject headlines. If we look a little further however, it did not achieve the same click or conversion rates. Had this simply been an awareness raising email, open rates would have been sufficient, but it is important to make sure that your email generates real results.

Lesson #3: Word Sequence Matters

We played around with variations of the same subject line, placing the name of the teacher at the beginning or the end of the sentence. The subject line in which the teacher’s name came first performed better in opens, click-thrus and conversion rates.

Test Results:

Subject line Open rate Click-thru rate Conversion rate
Ms. Smith‘s classroom needs holiday cheer!
Celebrate the season with Ms. Smith
A gift idea for Ms. Smith
33%
24%
26%
19%
11%
14%
8%
5%
5%

 

So why does sequence matter? It probably has something to do with how the brain absorbs information. Perhaps readers are more likely to be intrigued by a personal name (i.e. Ms. Smith). Also, keep in mind emails are read across multiple devices. Depending on the device (iPhone vs Android), the entire subject line may not be visible. This makes the first few words of the subject line even more significant.

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