We spend a lot of time on email designs, content and automation flows. These are all important, but without a compelling subject line all that effort is wasted.

So we looked back at a year’s worth of data to see what we could learn from subject lines that are smashing their industry averages.

Watch the full webinar here.

5 lessons from the data

1. A big chunk of marketers just throw a subject line out there

At the beginning of the webinar, we asked the audience how long they spend coming up with a subject line for their campaign:

While it’s nice to see half of them spending up to 5 minutes, nearly 1/3 only spend 30 seconds on the main thing that determines if their emails get opened!

2. Keep it Short…

Of the subject lines in our data set that went over 100 characters, only 1 earned a Click-Through Rate (CTR) of more than 30%. With the highest performer hitting 89%, this was a missed opportunity for their senders.

…But not too short

Both the longest and shortest subject lines we looked at scored around 5%, far short of the highest scoring.

It turns out that the optimum length is 31 to 40 characters. This is probably because in the default setup for Microsoft Outlook’s desktop app, the Preview Pane will show roughly 50 characters.

3. Pick up some Personalisation

Just because it’s simple, doesn’t mean it doesn’t work! Of all the little tweaks we investigated, adding personalisation to a subject line results in an average of 50% higher CTR.

In addition, only 12% of our data set bothered with personalisation. So dropping your contact’s first name into a subject line provides a huge boost against most of your competitors.

4. The end of the emoji?

One of those subjects that seems to divide marketers, we had to find out what emojis can actually do for you. And it’s bad news:

Subject lines that used emojis were 31% LESS effective. And these were emojis with an obvious link to the text of the subject line (houses for real estate, stars for feedback surveys etc.)

5. On the 7th day, God created email?

As this data was taken from our B2B customers, we expected the weekend to be a quiet zone. But it turns out that Sunday is prime clicking day!

Monday as a busy day and Friday as a quiet one were no surprise, but Sunday emails performed the best of all. We didn’t gather data on the exact time that clicks were earned, but our best guess is that the audiences were tackling their inboxes on Sunday evening to set themselves up for the week ahead.

What does this mean for you?

As some of the results discussed were surprises and some were expected, we hope that your main takeaway is that you should be testing all sorts of things! Without access to the same level of cross-industry data that we have, split testing is a good place to start.

Unable to split test on your current platform? Our email tool makes it super easy; get yourself a demo by clicking here.