By Anne Holland, Publisher
I've always wondered what works best in the battle to get noticed
in the in-box, haven't you?
So I was psyched when Sherpa reader Ben Chestnut, Partner at
RocketScienceGroup contacted me about a quick study his team just
conducted. They sorted 40 million email messages sent to house
lists by hundreds of their clients over the past 12 months by
Then they reviewed 20 messages from the top -- ones with the
highest open rates, ranging from 60-87%. Typical subject lines
(I've put "company name" instead of an actual company name) for
these extreme winners:
- Eye on Company Name Update
- Company Name Newsletter February 2006
- Invitation from Company Name
- Company Name May 2005 News Bulletin!
Overall, 17 of the 20 included the company or brand name of the
sender. Also, 10 had the word "newsletter," "News" or a synonym
such as "update." None of them featured an overt promotional
offer, although three were invitations.
Most of all, almost none appeared to be written by a "marketer."
They were fairly bland, factual, and even boring.
Chestnut's team also looked at the subject lines for the 20 worst
performing campaigns, which ranged from 1%-14% opens. Typical
subject lines in the bad pool included:
- Last Minute Gift - We Have the Answer
- Valentine's Day Salon & Spa Specials!
- Company Name Pioneers in XYZ Technology
- You asked for more...
Overall, only 10 of these featured a company name. Only one
contained the word "news," and nine were pretty obviously
promotional offers. The rest were press-release-style headlines
("Now offering company name services!"), or brochure-style
headlines ("True automation of your company name research").
In other words, the worst performing were all clearly written "by
One thing I found interesting: if you say the email has news
that's open-worthy, but if you feature the news as the subject
line, that's not interesting enough to open.
Caveat: Loads of factors beyond subject line influence open
rates, including how the house list was gathered, the sender's
brand strength, the average age (length of opt-in) of a typical
recipient, deliverability, etc. Also, we in email all know open
rates are not a highly precise measurement tool.
That said, I still think this quick study is worth considering,
if only as an idea generator for your own in-house tests this
year. Consider testing "boring" subject lines.
Also, as this study reminds us, email newsletters have a big
place in your email mix. Recipients tend to prefer newsletters
to promotions (and who can blame them?)
If you're interested in learning more, here's a link to Ben's
info on his study:
By the way -- have you done any studies? Let me know. Our
research team is always interested in reviewing third party data!
Anne Holland - Publisher
P.S. As always, our Case Studies and articles are open access for
about 10 days. Then they go into SherpaLibrary where you can
research for a small fee. The links always remain the same.
#2. Get Site Visitors on the Phone (So You Can Convert Them)
As hair product (think help for baldness) maker Kevis discovered
last year, radio ads drive a lot of traffic to your Web site.
But what if you absolutely need to get consumers on the phone to
close the deal?
Driving site traffic to the phone is not so easy. Discover how
Kevis cracked the challenge with live chat offers that are
aggressive, without being annoying. Yes, includes results data:
(Open access until May 6th)
#3. How to Sell 32% More Ads on Wikis, Blogs and Discussion Groups
Community Web sites featuring user-generated content have become
hot commodities, as evidenced by the press around MySpace.com
recently. But cashing in on community isn't easy.
Despite the buzz factor, many publishers running community sites
still go to sleep asking themselves, "How can I convince more
sponsors to come on board?"
Read on for a look at how one community site - packed with blogs,
wikis, and discussion groups - has revamped its ad offerings to
thrill the "Google Generation" of b-to-b media buyers:
(Open access until May 7th)
#4. SPECIAL: MarketingSherpa's Email Marketing Award Winners 2006 (38 Creative Samples to Steal Ideas From)
Save this issue in your "swipe file" for inspiration for your
next email campaign or strategy meeting. Worth noting -- every
campaign is being honored based on real-life *results* (not just
-> 12 B-to-B email campaigns
-> 6 Best email newsletters
-> Campaigns from Blockbuster, Intercontinental Hotels,
Ghiradelli, IBM, CareerBuilder & Canadian Blood Services.
Plus, find out which brand won four awards (a record achievement)
and which little-known ad agency won three for itself and
Here are creative samples and background details on 38 of the
very best email campaigns ever:
(Open access *forever* - yes, you can add this link to your blog)
#5. EXCLUSIVE: New Study Reveals How to Market to Engineers Around the World (US vs Europe & Asia)
RSS feeds and podcasts are hot, but do electronics engineers
pay any attention to them?
Which is more important: improving your Web site to appeal to
engineers or exhibiting at more trade shows?
And, what sorts of webinars would engineers around the world be
extremely interested in attending?
CMP Electronics Group released the results of its 2006
Global Media Usage 2006 study exclusively to MarketingSherpa's
reporters. Here are our top five lessons learned that could (and
should) affect your marketing:
(Open access until May 7th)
#6. Top Three Usability Tests for Web Site Redesign Decisions
In the insanely competitive world of financial services
marketing, your Web design has to be really good (not to mention
persuasive) to convert the traffic you worked so hard for.
Most marketers focus on Web analytics, a/b panels, and
multivariate tests these days. However, these metrics only tell
you what visitors did when they came to your site -- not *why*
they did it.
Here are three usability tests a real-life marketer used recently
to understand the whys and improve online conversions:
(Open access until May 5th)
#7. Fame Briefs: New Awards Including Heavy Blog Politicking for Trade Show Awards
Here's a quick listing of the latest marketing, ad, and PR awards
you can nominate yourself for.
(Open access = permanent)
#8. Help Wanteds: 27 New Jobs & 1 Seeker Available
The past week's new posts including a job at Sherpa. Plus, learn
how to post your own opening (complimentary service).
(Open access = permanent)
#9. New Giveaway: 'Then We Set His Hair on Fire'
Author Phil Dusenberry
For those of you old enough to remember, that title refers to
Michael Jackson's 1984 commercial for Pepsi-Cola... and the huge
marketing bump Pepsi got because of the publicity surrounding the
Gloved One's hair-on-fire incident.
Doing the reminiscing is ad industry legend Phil Dusenberry,
former Chairman and Chief Creative Officer BBDO North America,
who helped with the Pepsi account as well as such slogans as GE's
"We Bring Good Things to Life," HBO's "It's Not TV, It's HBO" and
Visa's "It's Everywhere You Want to Be." It's a fun read,
especially to find out what went on behind the scenes to create
these memorable lines.
In this 290-page hardcover, the 2002 Advertising Hall of Fame
inductee looks back on his 40-plus years in the ad business, and
he shares his thoughts on how to build a foolproof "insight
creation machine." Note: The fact that the Sherpa staff includes
two former BBDO execs did not influence the review of this book.
Phil donated five copies for Sherpa to give away. Toss your name
into the hat here to try for one:
+ Winners of last week's giveaway are...
These five lucky marketers will get their own copies of
'Clear Eye for Branding' by Tom Asacker.
- Sara Adams, CustomScoop, Concord, NH
- Marty Knight, OnPath, Ottawa, Canada
- Joseph Lemmer, Universal Audio, Santa Cruz, CA
- Michele Paled, Cumulus Radio Advertising, Nashville, TN
- Barbara Springer, The Crossings, Austin, TX