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Gloria Rand’s 50 Best Email Subject Lines of 2014 (…and My Five Worst!)

email subject linesI recently read Digital Marketer’s blog post about their best email subject lines and was quite surprised at how low their open rates were compared to my own. Granted, they sent 1.25 million emails in 2014, and I only sent 65,000… but maybe that’s an important point. If your list gets too big, you run the risk of not being fully engaged with your audience.

Regardless of the reason, I thought it would be useful to share my own results – the best and the worst.

I researched what the common elements were to the subject lines. The majority fell under the category of Self-Interest. That makes sense because they are usually direct and speak to a specific benefit your audience will gain by opening the email.

Here are the other categories my subject lines fell into:

Curiosity – These emails pique the subscriber’s interest without giving away too much information, which leads to higher opens.

Offer – Telling your subscribers in the subject line that you’re something away or selling a product/service they’d be interested in is a great way to convince them to open the email and learn more.

Urgency/Scarcity – This is the most powerful type of subject line you have at your disposal. Whenever you can cmmunicate urgency and/or scarcity in a subject line, it lets yours readers know they must act now. Be careful about doing this too often, since your it can turn people off, leading some to unsubscribe. 

Humanity
– It’s always a good idea to let your subscribers know you’re human, so go ahead and thank them or send a holiday greeting.

News – Another way to keep your open rates high is to let your audience know about new developments in your industry. These subject lines often work well when combined with a curiosity element.

Story – Telling a story in your subject line, or teasing one, is a unique way to highlight a benefit and increase your open rates.

Now that you know the components of an email subject line, you can see what worked for me this year:

Gloria’s Top 10 Best Email Subject Lines of 2014


10. MailChimp vs. Constant Contact: Which is Better?

Product: Blog article

Open Rate: 25.29%

Analysis: It’s a good bet that someone who uses MailChimp or Constant Constant will be curious to know what I think of these two services.

9. Overcoming Frustrating Obstacles

Product: Telesummit

Open Rate: 25.36%

Analysis: This is a good example of self-interest, with a little curiosity thrown in. The reader has probably endured frustrating obstacles, and is curious to know how to overcome them.

8. Hey…

Product: Course/Information Product

Open Rate: 26.48%

Analysis: I remember why I chose this subject line… I had listened to a webinar from infomarketing guru Frank Kern, and he claimed that short subject lines like this one are effective because they pique someone’s curiosity. It seemed to work well in this case. I don’t think I’ll do these very often though.

7. How to Use Facebook for Business

Product: Blog article

Open Rate: 26.79%

Analysis: This is a straight forward self-interest type of subject line that appeals to my audience of small business owners.

6. Your Sales

Product: Webinar

Open Rate: 27.95%

Analysis: Another curiosity/self-interest type of subject line. I was still experimenting with shorter subject lines. The results seem to indicate that short subject lines are effective.

5. Your Profit

Product: Information Product

Open Rate: 28.69%

Analysis: This subject line is quite similar to the previous one, but was promoting something totally different. I think the curiosity factor and short subject line worked in favor of it.

4. Social Media Survey

Product: Survey

Open Rate: 28.76%

Analysis: Curiosity worked again for this headline.

3. FYI (heads up)

Product: Video Series/Live Event Promotion

Open Rate: 28.94%

Analysis – Can you sense a theme here? Curiosity is definitely in force. What can I say? It works for my audience.

2. For Friend

Product: Video Series/Live Event Promotion

Open Rate: 30.25%

Analysis: This time, I went with a personalized email subject line. I’ve heard that these don’t necessarily work anymore, but a 30% open rate looks pretty good to me! I only tried it once this year, but I may try it again in 2015 and see how the results compare.

1. Shhh… it’s a secret!

Product: Live Event

Open Rate: 40.88%

Analysis: My top rated email again used the curiosity factor.. but this time with an air of exclusivity, which made it more appealing. After all, who doesn’t love a good secret?
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Here are the next 40 email subject lines with the highest engagement and what elements they used:

Stop Sending Emails to Your Customers  — Self-Interest

Don’t hire a web designer until you read this — Urgency; Curiosity; self-interest

LinkedIn Prospecting Formula — Self-Interest

Are you making these blogging mistakes? — Curiosity; Self-interest

5 Essential Content Curation Smartphone Apps — Self-Interest

Did you remember? — Curiosity

30 Minute Social Media Marketing Plan — Self-Interest

16 DIY Social Media Management Tools — Self-Interest

Top 5 Twitter Management Tools — Self-Interest

Can I work with you? — (Time Sensitive) — Curiosity; Urgency

**Link is Fixed!** Innovative Change for Entrepreneurs — News

How to Easily Get Leads from LinkedIn — Self-Interest

5 Ways to Use Speaking to Attract Clients — Self-Interest

Don’t miss…Shortcut to Success [FREE Telesummit] — Urgency; Offer

This might be the answer to your prayers (Read Now) — Curiosity; Self-interest

Why It Pays to Proofread in Business — Self-Interest

5 Ways to Repurpose Blog Articles — Self-Interest

*|FNAME|*, You’re invited! — Offer; Curiosity

How to Increase Google+ Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC] — Self-Interest

Innovative Change for Entrepreneurs — News

30 Minute Plan for Getting New Clients — Self-Interest

Your Webinar with Gloria Rand is TODAY — Urgency; Self-interest

Quickly and Easily create more clients <– (Open Today) — Self-Interest

(TIME SENSITIVE) reminder price goes up next week! — Urgency

How One Facebook Page Can Like Another — Self-Interest

Quick question for you — Curiosity

We’re live tomorrow on Social Buzz Club — Urgency

Are you ready for a business and money breakthrough? — Curiosity; Self-interest

IT’S MY BIRTHDAY!! But you get the gift! — Offer; Curiosity

Which Social Media Platform is Right for Your Small Business [INFOGRAPHIC] — Self-Interest

Will you be joining me in Orlando? — Curiosity

4 Reasons to Email Subscribers a Newsletter — Self-Interest

[New Webinar] 3 Massive Mistakes LinkedIn Users Make – Self-Interest; News

Do NOT register for the Summit if… – Curiosity; Story

Is this what’s stopping you? — Curiosity

Email Marketing Do’s & Don’ts — Self-Interest

Create the Impact, Influence & Income You Desire — Self-Interest

How NOT to Host a Webinar — Self-Interest

Blog Like a Winner — Self-Interest

[Marketing Buzz] Should You Upload Videos to Facebook? — Self-Interest

Email Subject Lines to Avoid

As promised in the title of this article, I want you to learn from my mistakes too. So here are my five worst performing email subject lines. These emails had the highest unsubscribe to open ratio. Not only did these fail to engage my readers, they actually drove people away! I’m going to work backwards, starting with the 5th most unpopular email.

5. 5 Ways to Repurpose Blog Articles

Promotion: Blog article

Unsubscribe/Open rate: 0.60%

Analysis: This was a decent self-interest subject line, but for whatever reason, it didn’t strike a chord with my readers.

4. FYI (heads up)

Promotion: Video Series to promote my Internet Marketing Success Summit event in Orlando, FL

Unsubscribe/Open rate: 0.60%

Analysis: This email utilized the curiosity factor, and although it had a good open rate, it backfired by causing people to unsubscribe.

3. How to Increase Google+ Engagement [INFOGRAPHIC]

Promotion: Blog article

Unsubscribe/Open rate: 0.72%

This email subject line utilized self-interest, but my takeaway is that my readers weren’t that keen on Google+ or infographics. What do you think?

2. MailChimp vs. Constant Contact: Which is Better?

Promotion: Blog article

Unsubscribe/Open rate: 0.73%

This email had my 10th highest open rate, but it caused a few unsubscribes. Maybe it’s because those people used a different email service provider!

1. Don’t hire a web designer until you read this

Promotion: Blog article

Unsubscribe/Open rate:0.96%

This article generated quite a few blog comments too, so it evidently touched a nerve. It utilized the curiosity factor, as well as self-interest, but it just didn’t sit right with a few of my readers.

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About the Author
Gloria Grace Rand is an award-winning SEO blogger, former writer/producer for the PBS-TV news program, “Nightly Business Report,” and the owner of Web to Wealth Marketing. As an internationally known leading expert in internet marketing, Gloria develops innovative workshops and masterminds that help creative professionals and service providers improve their online visibility and profitability. She is also a Contributing Author of three best-selling books, “Unscripted: How Entrepreneurs Leap and Find Success,” “Conceived to Lead,” and “Connect: 100+ Mind-Blowing Strategies to Use Social Media and Drive Business Growth.”

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