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Christopher Knight

SUBJ Research: Email Response Increases as Characters Decrease
By Christopher Knight

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A recent subject line research article by Return Path identified that "click-through rates (CTR) for subject lines with 49 or fewer characters were 75 percent higher than for those with 50 or more." - Source Ok, before you go subject line chopping to drive your total character length to 49 characters or less, know that a short subject line alone won't guarantee you success. You'll have to test subject line response rates just like everyone else to truly determine what works for your list and niche. Most email clients cut off the subject line length at 55-63 characters and yes, spaces do count as does subject line header info (such as: [Ezine-Tips] takes up 12 characters before I even begin to write my subject line ).

Why did the Return Path research project turn up that shorter subject lines increased click-through response rates?

I have a theory: DELIVERABILITY. The longer your subject line, the greater your chance is of offending the spam-filter gods and getting your message tossed in the junk bin as a false-positive. (spamfilter kill words might include words like, OFFER, GUARANTEED, MORTGAGE, SAVE MONEY, DRUGS, MEDICINE, etc. that are typically found in true spam.)

The next question on your mind:

Should I cloak my known spam filter kill words (for the subject line) with cutesy letters, numbers or symbols so that I can beat the spam filter? NO! Remember, your end-outcome is to make sales, get a response that creates something positive for your business. Getting a higher open rate or click-through rate does not pay bills or payroll. Using your ezine to increase sales / orders does pay bills. When you cloak or try to hide spamfilter kill words, it's my strong belief that you are losing the confidence (subconscious or conscious) of your membership. The message you are delivering is this: My desire to beat the spam filters is more important than my desire to build confidence and trust with you my email list member.

What to do next in your subject line response improvement testing?

For the next 3 months, test subject lines with 49 characters or less, track CTR and open-rate and determine if it does improve your overall desired response compared to the last year of history whenever your subject line exceeded 50 or more characters.

This Ezine-Tip was submitted By Christopher Knight -- Email List Marketing Expert, author and entrepreneur. Get your weekly dose of Email newsletter publishing, marketing, promotion, management, email-etiquette, email usability and deliverability tips by joining the free Ezine-Tips newsletter:

Ezine-Tips for May 30, 2006

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