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Email Marketing Subject Lines Test

by PotPieGirl on March 2, 2011 · 75 comments

8 Different Email Subject Lines – Which One Was Best?

I ran a little test last night while doing some list marketing. The only way to get better and to help others get better is to test things, right? Right. I picked 8 different subject lines for an email blast to see which got opened more…and which let to better click-thru rates with people actually clicking the link inside the email. The most important thing is to get those emails opened..and it can a fine science. So, let’s take a look at my test and my test results.

Background for this email marketing test

Before I dive right in, let me give you some background on what I was doing, why I was doing it, and what my goals were.

These emails were sent out 1 hour before a free webinar was about to begin. I wanted as many people as possible to come to this free webinar because I knew it would answer questions they had about a promotion that is going on this week.

Here are some bullet points:

  • These lists WERE previously told about the upcoming webinar and many had already registered
  • This test was to gauge the effectiveness of subject lines to get people to open and read right away and take action (there was only one hour until the webinar started)
  • I picked 8 different lists and used one unique subject line on each with the same content inside the email body

  • Note: Usually when I do a “blast”, I merge all my lists into one blast to help avoid annoying people by sending multiple emails (a big blast like that works well to avoid sending more than 1 of the same email to the same email address).

    I also set up my lists to help KEEP people from being on more than one of my related lists. For example, if someone signed up for a free preview copy of One Week Marketing and got on that list….and then they end up buying One Week Marketing… I set my rules to take them OFF the “free” list and only have them on the members list. Just another thing I do in attempt to not send multiple emails to the same person.

    I really don’t like to annoy people, but sometimes I have to test things.

    And naturally, when I test things, some people get mad at me. If YOU are one of the people I annoyed last night with my test and webinar 1-hour notice emails, I sincerely apologize. I hope you will forgive me.

    Where Did I Get The Email Subject Lines From?

    I know many people out there do their best to NOT be on other marketers lists, but I am not one of those people. I LOVE watching how other marketers do things – regardless of what niche they are in.

    Some of my best email marketing lessons have come from simply being on multiple lists and WATCHING.

    Have you ever had an email in your inbox that as soon as you saw the subject line, you couldn’t wait to open it? Ever ask yourself WHY? On the same token, ever get an email, see the subject, and click delete without even thinking about it? (and I’m sure you don’t click the “spam” button if you DID opt-in to receive email from that person, right? It’s not “spam” if you consented to receive it).

    Watching your own reaction to email and subject lines and email body content can give you some of the best lessons of all. Think about that next time you visit your inbox.

    I also went to trusty Google and searched for email subject lines and email marketing subject line tests. I got a lot of good ideas to try from that, too.

    The Email Subject Lines I Tested

    Alrighty, with all that out of the way, let’s take a look at the 8 different email subject lines I tested last night.

    As you can see, I tested all kinds of stuff.

    Take a good look at them. Which subject line do you think got the best open percentage?

    Just a little extra info for those that are new to email marketing and list building…

    Open Rate means – based on the number of emails sent, what percent actually OPENED the email.

    Click Thru % means – based on the number of emails that were opened, what percent actually clicked a link IN the email.

    Email Subject Line Test Results

    Go ahead and tell me which subject line YOU think won this test.

    You can just say the number next to the subject line – you don’t have to type it all out if you don’t want to.

    I was pretty surprised myself.

    Ok – cast your vote!

    I am going to reveal the test results tomorrow.


    Eric Transue March 2, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    I’m going with #8

    Rachel Rofe March 2, 2011 at 11:32 pm

    Hmmm! My guess is #6 or #8… though #3 was my first guess. Oyyyy, can’t wait to find out!! ;)

    Cindy White March 2, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    I would have to say #6. I think it would peek my
    interest the most, so I would have to open.

    Tess March 2, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    I received 2 of these emails from you Jennifer – #2 and #6 but I definitely opened #6 because I didn’t know what it was that was “1 hour notice”. Most of the other email subjects lead me to believe it was a webinar, where #6 wasn’t entirely clear which peaked my interest.

    (although, I honestly open up ALL of your emails Jennifer, LOL)

    Anne March 2, 2011 at 11:34 pm

    Number 8 – scarcity.

    Mark Daymond March 2, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    I think I would go for #6 – gives a sense of urgency

    Robert March 2, 2011 at 11:35 pm

    Hi Jennifer,

    I seem to be on 2 of your lists. Everytime you send an email to that address I entered above. I get it twice. I got one week marketing, I’m in WA, I got instacash keywords, I follow you closely in other words and I learn a lot. But please. Sort your list!

    BTW – My vote goes to the “Your PERSONAL invitation…” wonder why? I’ll be back tommorrow when I get your 2 emails. :)

    Michelle March 2, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    I’d say either #1 or #2.

    Dale March 2, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    probably not #4. I got that one but didn’t open it :P

    Susie March 2, 2011 at 11:38 pm

    I got two different ones, #’s 3 & 6…
    I opened # 3 (you in?) first.
    But I agree with Eric that # 8 probably is the most motivating.

    Byron March 2, 2011 at 11:54 pm

    No. 7 just because it wasn’t picked.

    PotPieGirl March 2, 2011 at 11:55 pm

    @Robert – I do the best I can to sort my lists, but I also have more than one aweber account and you can’t sort between accounts.

    That said, just do this next time I bombard you… ;)

    Open the email and scroll to the bottom for the ‘unsubscribe” link – click that. The next page will show a list of which lists of mine you are on. Uncheck the ones you don’t want to be on and get it down to only one (or none, if you prefer).

    One list SHOULD equal only one email from me.

    Love the guesses so far, y’all – keep ‘em coming!!!

    Tony March 2, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    I vote #3 it’s got that curiosity factor going for it

    WilliamE March 3, 2011 at 12:04 am

    Hello Jennifer,
    It’s nice of you to let me cast my vote. I received an e-mail, forgot which one though. My vote would go to #2. Great talking with you. Bye Now

    Wayne March 3, 2011 at 12:06 am

    Would say #3, it makes you think, and that should cause a reaction.

    Brandon McHale March 3, 2011 at 12:07 am

    I’ll go with #3.
    I’m guessing curiosity and the fact that it’s so short
    it’ll be shorter than most of the e-mails and catch the readers eye. Plus I’ve gotten – you in? e-mails from friends and it relates a bit, heh maybe that’s why I picked it.

    Can’t wait to find out, thanks for sharing!

    Dr. Steve March 3, 2011 at 12:19 am

    I like 7 because it doesn;t look like SPAM mail. But the one I like most is the one that got me to open this website, I ran a test last night and wanted to share it with you.” And now asking me to vote and then teasing me to come back tomorrow to see the results, well that’s just plain genious.

    Michelle Mahan March 3, 2011 at 12:23 am

    I would say #3. The question draws you in immediately. Plus the fact that the first letters are not capitalized makes it stand out.

    Jen March 3, 2011 at 12:31 am

    I would have to go with #2. It creates a sense of urgency. I received #5 and #6. I didn’t open them because I had seen your previous email about the webinar so I knew what they were about.

    Lisa L S March 3, 2011 at 12:36 am

    I got both 5 and 6 – and opened both ( I am loyal to you and your emails ) Then I got an important call and missed the webinar anyway – will they be replaying it?
    I think I would vote for # 8 as the best one!

    Rod March 3, 2011 at 12:37 am

    My vote is for #8, but #2 is a close second I think.

    Lise March 3, 2011 at 12:41 am

    I vote for #5 first and #8 in second place.

    Can’t wait to see the results

    CLAIRE ABDUL-AZEEZ March 3, 2011 at 12:43 am

    Hi Jennifer; I think no.3 or 8, but more likely to be 8.

    ty March 3, 2011 at 12:50 am

    i would guess #2. something about GOING LIVE seems captivating to me….

    Stacie March 3, 2011 at 12:55 am

    I say #3

    I think we’ve all had it with the scarcity ploy. Also, I know that most “gurus” will post the webinar somewhere for people to listen to later.

    I, for one, always pay attention to what you have to say, way back from my days at wealthy affiliate. I appreciate your honesty.

    Patsy March 3, 2011 at 1:03 am

    #1 Your personal invitation.

    Jan March 3, 2011 at 1:07 am

    Well, I got 6 and opened it. I thought, “1 hour for what?” Piqued my interest and curiosity.

    I think #8 would perform quite well too.

    hagar March 3, 2011 at 1:14 am

    I know I got a couple of them (I have a LOT of emails, to help sort things), but the one that pulled me, even AFTER I missed the webinar, was one that had “please come” in it… hate to disappoint a pretty girl :)

    Paul March 3, 2011 at 1:40 am

    A “Personal Invitation” from an Internet marketer is never a personal invitation – even if it is PotPieGirl.

    “Webinar starts in one hour” – or any those variants won’t get me if I’m busy. I’m on the other side of the world and in the middle of work, most likely.

    I’d probably open #3 “- you in?” (but only from certain marketers).

    I’d ALWAYS prefer to hear a webinar recorded and at my leisure. For one, I can usually see how long the thing’s going to go for, and I can listen in segments.

    Pamela Moody March 3, 2011 at 1:55 am

    I’m guessing it was #4.

    kevin March 3, 2011 at 2:02 am

    #6 is my final answer,

    hmm, that is tough. All of these go right into the trash for me site unseen.
    I hate webinars. I’d rather go to my tax guy like I had to today. I looked and I recvd #4 which is sitting unread in my inbox. Had it been anyone else, it would have been deleted. :)

    1 is phony to me,
    2 – there is a small chance I’d bite,
    3 – I loath
    4 – trash
    5 – hints at webinar – trash
    6 is interesting, unique, curious
    7 – makes me gag,
    8 also interesting but I hate scarcity marketing too.

    I’d lean toward 6 since it is unique and doesn’t reek of webinar., but that is just me.


    Michael March 3, 2011 at 2:03 am

    My vote goes to No. 8.

    mark March 3, 2011 at 2:05 am

    I would say that #8 and #2 pulled well.

    Rick March 3, 2011 at 2:11 am


    Dacia March 3, 2011 at 2:35 am

    #2 is what got my attention the most.

    Mary March 3, 2011 at 2:37 am

    I vote for number 3 after I see who the e-mail is from. Since I know who it’s from, in this case, I am interested. If I didn’t know the sender, I would have to go with number 3. It has a “personal” touch.

    Linda March 3, 2011 at 2:42 am

    I think I would open # 6

    Ed March 3, 2011 at 2:48 am

    I am going to have to go with #6. People always like to feel like they have been given special status.

    Dan March 3, 2011 at 2:51 am

    I think I’ve been pretty hardened to being affected much by subject lines. In your test, I think #6 will probably win. But the sender has much more of an affect on me than the subject line. If it is PotPieGirl or Travis, or Ryan, I almost always read it. Many other marketers I will only read occassionally because I have been disappointed by their emails before. I know you guys will be giving me quality info.

    ahsan March 3, 2011 at 3:05 am

    i vote for #5 and #8

    Sandy March 3, 2011 at 3:12 am

    #8 for sure. That’s the one I would click on. I don’t know if that’s good or bad? LOL

    Charles March 3, 2011 at 3:16 am

    Hello PPg,
    While I appreciate that images are visually appealing, they are useless to people who are blind, and render your site inaccessible. I use a text-to-speech translator that cannot read images, and unfortunately, a lot of your images are not written as text. I can’t cast my vote because there’s no text for me to read. As you know, this is very frustrating. Can you please put text with images of the list subjects? I battle every day with inaccessible websites, and just this simple gesture would make your blog a lot more enjoyable. Thank you.

    Matt B March 3, 2011 at 3:30 am

    I would have to say email #1 just because it is personalized and I was curious of what the email was about.

    michael March 3, 2011 at 3:39 am


    Brad March 3, 2011 at 3:48 am

    #7 You’re Invited to a Webinar is the one I would personally open.

    All of the others seem like the normal drivel that comes in from the majority of Internet marketers so I simply delete them.

    #7 is direct (as in to the point), seems friendly and personal (I’m invited) and informative (to a webinar) enough to get me to take a look to see what the webinar is about.

    I actually wish the emails I get from Internet marketers contained subjects like this.

    Charlotte March 3, 2011 at 4:14 am

    number 6 & 8 came to me…I opened 8

    Ligia March 3, 2011 at 4:14 am

    Your personal invitation (one hour notice)

    Cindy March 3, 2011 at 4:36 am


    kevin March 3, 2011 at 4:42 am

    Well earlier I said #6, but it looks like a lot of people were caught off-guard by #3.

    At one time, I may have been curious as well since it is such an abrupt subject. It is the kind that at first seems like it could be personally directed to you, sort of like someone specifically was making a special effort to include you.

    But I loath it, because a few marketers have really abused it recently.

    Jacqui March 3, 2011 at 4:51 am

    I vote for #2 – a LIVE PotPieGirl is something not to be missed!

    By the way, I’m getting duplicate emails from you at the above address, too. I have your OWM plan and am a member (through you) of WA. But I think I was using a different email address back then.

    Thanks for all the great info.

    Bruce March 3, 2011 at 5:13 am

    I got several of these. I liked #2 (unfortunately I didn’t get them until later that night because i was at a client and missed the webinar). The reason I liked #2 is it had a sense of “right now” and the “are you coming” made it feel personal….like someone is actually waiting for me.

    Jenn March 3, 2011 at 5:16 am

    #2 is my guess because it got my attention best! can’t wait to hear the results!!

    norbert March 3, 2011 at 6:34 am

    None of them.. they all sound equally “fake” to me.
    Maybe something like “The webinar starts in one hour”, but since I wasn’t already interested..
    But I’m voting on numer 3.
    Just like Paul – I’m listening when I have some free time to spend.

    Mwangi March 3, 2011 at 6:41 am

    #3 makes me curious, i have to open to kill the curiosity.

    Ungifted Marketer March 3, 2011 at 6:46 am

    It would defo have to be no 6 for me

    PotPieGirl March 3, 2011 at 7:03 am

    @ Charles -

    I am so sorry! The use of images didn’t cross my mind.

    Let me type the choices out for you.

    #1 – Your Personal Invitation ( 1 hour notice)
    #2 – We’re about to be LIVE – are you coning?
    #3 – – you in?
    #4 – [Your Registration] Webinar starting soon
    #5 – Hurry! We’re starting soon…
    #6 – 1 Hour Notice Is All I Can Give
    #7 – You’re invited to a webinar (we’re starting soon!)
    #8 – Don’t let your spot go to someone else (1hour notice)

    Hope that helps you to cast your vote! Thank you!


    Keep them votes coming!!! This is awesome!

    Clive Anderson March 3, 2011 at 7:40 am

    Hi Jen,

    I would have to say Number 3 (- you in?) as like the element of surprise, curiosity killed the cat.

    The fact is it could have been refering to many elements which would be the catalyst to get readers to open and see exactly what it is refering to.

    However, whatever way you look at it you still have to have a list in order for it to be of benefit.

    Perhaps a blog on “How to Build a List” “The A to Z of List Building” would perhaps be more apropriate and beneficial to serious marketers on your list rather than using marketers time to conduct personal experiments.

    I didn’t miss the point… You wanted us to go to the webinar. One email would have been enough.

    Hope the outcome really benefitted you as it didn’t me…

    Clive Anderson

    julia March 3, 2011 at 8:23 am

    I would say No.2 it peaked my curiosity, and was a warm and friendly invitation.

    Matt March 3, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Everyone else is thinking otherwise, but #1 does it for me

    Dino March 3, 2011 at 10:44 am

    I’d definitely go with number 7 as it is as clear and humane as possible – there’s a webinar and it’s starting soon, I’m invited. Great. That’s all I need to know, i don’t need to be hurried or know how SPECIAL or UNIQUE it is, or anything like that, cause it just reminds me of some of the crappy webinars I’ve attented with a similar -email subject

    Diana March 3, 2011 at 1:35 pm

    #6 raises my curiosity…the others are much too stereotypical.


    Do even greater things!!!

    John Chandler March 3, 2011 at 2:12 pm

    My vote is #6, but I didn’t put nearly as much thought into it as Kevin:)

    Matt March 3, 2011 at 2:54 pm

    My guess would be #8 and then #2

    Marketing Columbia SC March 3, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    I would pick #3 because that sounds like something Jennifer would say and whatever she says always catches my attention.

    Bernita March 3, 2011 at 3:37 pm

    I’m going with my first guess #3

    Maria Mekus March 3, 2011 at 5:15 pm

    OH this is so very easy. It’s number 8 of course – at least that is the one I opened. Maria Mekus

    Andrea March 3, 2011 at 5:17 pm

    I’d say 8 as well. It’s not my personal favorite to be used against me but people HATE the idea of somebody else taking what could have been theirs.

    David March 3, 2011 at 6:34 pm

    Hi Jennifer
    For me #8
    But even more interesting in your comments there seems to be no clear winner. Everyone has picked their favorite depending on their background and their exposure to these types of subject lines.

    I agree with several of the comments that the sender is more important than the details of the subject.

    Another note is that I visited your blog from a very short email with a very short subject. Perhaps with that logic #3 would win.

    I am interested in the results as a larger sample population could highlight the trend better than the 70 responses when I write this comment.

    Thanks again for all the education opportunities.

    Rosemary March 3, 2011 at 7:13 pm

    I’m with Robert. I often get 2 emails from you but didn’t want to unsubscribe from one for fear of not getting the “good” emails from you. Do you send the same messages to all of your lists?

    Eternity Diamond Wedding Bands March 3, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    # 1 and #6 are the best ones as either one would have grab my attention. The 1 hour notice feels like some special offer only given once and entices the email recipients open it quickly and respond faster. The personal invitation email subject lines is another good one as it gives off that exclusive feel to an invitation. The others are good as well but won’t get the same results as #1 and #6.

    Dixie Blakely March 3, 2011 at 10:43 pm

    I am thinking #5

    Michael March 4, 2011 at 1:26 am

    Hi Jen,

    Number 4 worked for me, though I opened number 8 as well. I would use 4 myself. It just seemed better than the rest.

    Andrew March 4, 2011 at 7:36 am

    I would go with 2 or 3. However i wouldnt open it for 4 or 6.

    Yvonne Finn March 5, 2011 at 6:22 pm

    I think #2

    Marieanne March 7, 2011 at 8:23 am

    I think it was # 8.

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