Which words in subject lines significantly increase consumer opens of marketing emails, and which words significantly decrease opens?

To find out, Alchemy Worx used the Touchstone platform to analyze data from 21 billion marketing emails sent by 2,500 brands. The research included an examination of thousands of subject lines, word by word, to determine their influence on open rates.

The words in subject lines that increase open rates most, on average, are upgrade (+65.7% compared with average open rate), just (+64.8%), content (+59%), go (+55.8%), and wonderful (+55.1%), the analysis found.

The words that have the largest negative impact on open rates are miss (-4.6% compared with average open rate), deals (-4.4%), groovy (-4.3%), conditions (-4%), and Friday (-4%).

Below, additional key findings from the report.


Consumers have a mixed reaction to symbols in subject lines

For example, they are more likely to open an email if the snowman symbol is included in the subject line but are less likely to open if they see a finger symbol.

Industry Data

The researchers examined open rates for five industries—travel, retail, media/entertainment, technology, and consumer services—and found vertical-specific variations for each.

For example, the difference between "holiday" and "vacation" for a travel company can result in an eight percent open rate swing on average, with holiday being the word more likely to prompt engagement.

About the research: The report was based on data from 21 billion marketing emails sent by 2,500 brands.

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The Five Most Effective (and Ineffective) Words in Email Subject Lines

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image of Ayaz Nanji

Ayaz Nanji is a writer, editor, and a content strategist. He is a co-founder of ICW Media and a research writer for MarketingProfs. He has worked for Google/YouTube, the Travel Channel, and the New York Times.

LinkedIn: Ayaz Nanji

Twitter: @ayaznanji