Customers love getting deals and discounts — but keeping the details of those deals and discounts hidden may be the best way to get them to open your marketing emails, a new study reports.
The study analyzed nearly 8 billion marketing emails from a variety of businesses and industries. Here's what they found:
About one out of three marketing emails (and almost half of all retail marketing emails) have a detailed offer in the subject line, such as "25 percent off." However, this may not be the best way to get your email opened, the study found. Emails without specific offers in the subject line have 28 percent higher open rates, 67 percent higher click rates and 34 percent higher click-to-open (CTO) rates.
Keeping it vague is more effective in getting recipients to open your email, the study found. Emails that use the word "deal” in the subject line but don’t include a specific offer have the highest open rates of all. The report theorizes these types of emails generate enough curiosity for the recipient to open them. If the specific deal is in the subject line, the recipient doesn't have to open the email to get the information.
Across all industries in the survey, incentives related to loyalty programs got better results than any other type of offer. These might include incentives to join the loyalty program, to earn extra points by making a purchase, to upgrade to a higher level of the loyalty program or to purchase products only available to loyalty program members. Emails with loyalty-related offers have a 9 percent higher open rate, 20 percent higher click rate, and 12 percent higher CTO rate compared to those without loyalty-related offers.
However, this doesn't mean you should never use specifics in your subject lines. Emails with specific offers in the subject lines generate almost 5 times the conversion rates of those containing the word “deals” and no offers. Percentage discounts and free shipping offers have the highest conversion rates overall. For example, retail email subject lines including a specific percentage off have a 7.9 percent conversion rate, while those advertising "free shipping" have a 7.6 percent conversion rate.
What's the takeaway? In general, emails that don't emphasize a specific offer get higher engagement from recipients than those that do. However, if you want to convert customers, your offer must live up to the expectations generated by the email subject line. When customers open the email or click through to your website, they want to feel that you're living up to your promises. If your email subject line touts the biggest deals of the year, but customers click through and see that you're offering the same percentage discounts you do every other week, they'll become disillusioned. Eventually, they’ll stop opening, clicking or even subscribing — and they'll also stop buying.