The Ideal Length For Your Email Subject Line

tape-measure-145397_1280We are often told that size doesn’t matter. Well that is wrong. Size does matter when it comes to your email subject line. It is the first impression your audience will have on what is contained within your marketing message. It needs to entice them to open the email and red further. Therefore, the subject line needs to be alluring, indicate what the message is about and not give away the whole story.

This can be a difficult balancing act. Most people think they need to write an essay to achieve all three. While this can help, it can also be tough to read. Some try for the shortest email subject line they can manage. Yet this can seem non-descriptive.

Both camps claim they have the answer; yet, only research will tell what the impact is on the open rate for campaigns.

The Adestra Research Project

Adestra compiled some results from email marketing campaigns they were monitoring. They looked at how people interacted with a message and compared that to the email subject line. The results they saw were rather interesting. Firstly, they spotted that there was a sizeable bump in success when subject lines were between 10 and 30 characters long. Results either side of this mark were less than half.

Subject lines of this length are often offering a deal (i.e. Claim your 50% off today, etc). Therefore, it is normally business to customer messages that achieve success while being short.

Yet this wasn’t the only interesting result. Subject lines that were between 30 and 70 characters long achieved less than average responses while those over 100 characters seemed to perform well.

There was a particularly good set of results when email subject lines were 130 characters long.

ShowMeLeads Input

Another study conducted by the president of ShowMeLeads, Madhu Gulati, found another set of results that could turn the results above upside down. According to their research into 260 million emails sent during 540 campaigns, they found the following results:

  • More than half (52%) of campaigns contained 11 to 15 words in the subject line. However, it had the poorest open rate.
  • Those campaigns that contained between six and 10 words received a 21% open rate.
  • Short subject lines (five words or less) had 16% open rates.

These results are almost in contrast to what was previously reported on Adestra.

MailChimp’s Results

MailChimp has also studied the problem. They came to the conclusion that length meant nothing and that it was the reader’s tastes that determined whether they would open your message up or not.

While there is some truth in this, looking at the MailChimp results there is something of note. Their results show an above rise in opens and clicks when the subject line is short. According to their data, you are bound to get the best results when your subject line is between 15 and 22 characters long.

This is rather important as it correlates with the other two studies.

Important Notes

It is important that click through rates shouldn’t be a huge factor on whether your subject line is best. Once the audience is at this point, other factors are determining their behaviour.

It is also important to note that none of these studies decided to a/b test the subject lines of exactly the same email to test the results. This might have given a better answer to the question.

To optimise your emails for your audience, consider a/b testing your email campaigns.

Conclusion

There are varying thoughts on what is the right length for an email subject line. Many consider that long subject lines distract audiences and lower success rates, yet others have demonstrated this is not the case. What all the studies do show is that a short, concise email subject line is going to perform better than the average.

What is the average length of your email subject line? What have your results been from your previous subject lines?

Let us know in the comments below:

Take Action:

  • Use a short subject line to generate more opens.
  • A/b test your subject lines to see what gets the best results.

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