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How Six Common Words Influence 1-to-1 Email Open Rates

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Should you use, or avoid, certain words in your subject lines when sending emails directly to business contacts?

Sidekick, a division of HubSpot, recently examined 6.4 million emails sent by individuals through Gmail, Apple Mail, and Outlook to find out. The emails came from Sidekick's 50,000+ users—including marketers, sales reps, managers, and entrepreneurs—and were all one-to-one messages (i.e., they were not marketing campaigns sent to lists of people).

One-to-one emails with the word "you" in the subject line were opened 5% less compared with those that did not include the word, the analysis found.

Emails with "free" in the subject line were opened 10% more.


Emails with with "quick" in the subject line were opened 17% less.

Emails with "tomorrow" in the subject line were opened 10% more.

Emails with "meeting" in the subject line were opened 7% less.

Emails with "fw:" in the subject line were opened 17% less.

About the research: The report was based on data from an analysis of 6.4 million one-to-one emails sent by individuals through Gmail, Apple Mail, and Outlook.


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Ayaz Nanji is an independent digital strategist and a co-founder of ICW Content, a marketing agency specializing in content creation for brands and businesses. He is also a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, AOL, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji

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Comments

  • by Nichelle Wed Mar 18, 2015 via web

    Interesting insights, especially #1. In copy we use "you" to put the focus on the reader. In email, when we say "you" we are usually looking for something - a meeting, a deadline, a product, even an opinion.

  • by Denise Wed Mar 18, 2015 via web

    Interesting that in the part of the report that addresses how to write emails people will open, the top performing subject line for their sales manager is:

    "[Name], quick question for you."

    Seemingly at odds with the data.

    Maybe personalization makes the difference here.

  • by Ayaz Nanji Wed Mar 18, 2015 via web

    Nichelle & Denise. Thanks so much for the comments. The "you" findings are indeed more nuanced that I could convey in the article. Denise, as you point out, added personalization may be they key to making the word more effective. As Sidekick notes in the full post: "'You' is a nice touch, but try testing specific prospect names for true personalization"-- which seems to be good advice.

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