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Email Subject Line Test RESULTS

by PotPieGirl on March 3, 2011 · 36 comments

Did Your Subject Line Win The Test?

In yesterdays’ post about testing email subject lines to see which got the best open rate for a time-sensitive offer (a webinar was about to begin), I showed you the 8 different subject lines I tested and asked you to tell me which one YOU think was the winner. It’s time to see the results of my subject line test…and to see if you guessed right.

The 8 Subject Lines Tested

Here are the 8 email subject lines I tested:

So, which subject line did the best and got the best open rate in a short amount of time?

Email Subject Line Test Results

Ok, here are the results. Remember, we were looking for the best OPEN RATE….with the click -thru rate being a bonus (all details of the test are here).

First thing you might notice is that open rate % is not that high at all. Please keep in mind that this was a time-sensitive test and I pulled the stats after less than 2 hours from blasting the emails out.

The emails also went out about 8pm my time (Atlanta time) so it wasn’t really the best time to blast an email.

So – who is the winner?

….and the Winner Is……

Hmmm… I feel like I need a drumroll here or something…lol!

Email subject line #4 was the winner by a long shot with subject line #8 pulling in at second place.

I have to tell you this – I didn’t expect it to go that way. To me, subject line #4 looked boring, impersonal…very dry… but apparently it was pretty darn effective.

This is WHY we need to test things. I might THINK one thing will work best, but unless I test, I don’t know what REALLY works.

So, were you right? Did you guess the winner?


PotPieGirl March 3, 2011 at 7:06 pm

Just to follow up -

I did NOT guess that #4 would be the winner. In fact, I almost didn’t use that subject line for this test because it appeared so dry and boring.

My guess as I was setting this test up was either #8 or #2 (yes, I played the “guess the winner” game with myself, too…lol!)

[Your Registration] Webinar Starting Soon

Boring, yet effective.

Whoda thunk it?

Nice job, Pamela… you were the only one that guessed #4 in the comments yesterday!


Sara Young March 3, 2011 at 7:12 pm

Wow – I didn’t expect that one to be the winner either… Do you have any thoughts on why it did so well?

Bryan March 3, 2011 at 7:14 pm

Hi Jennifer,

This is really a great post – just shows testing does pay off. I would be curious to see though if you just used the subject line that won on every email, I would think that the list would get worn out on it. It’s probably a good idea to change out subject lines regularly and always test new ones. Thanks for the post – I’m going to try some of these out!

Rick@DentalColumbia March 3, 2011 at 7:18 pm

I’m BLOWN AWAY…I figured #4 was the worst one. Doesn’t figure?! Ummmm…sure makes me wonder if marketing is my game.

kevin March 3, 2011 at 7:20 pm

Wow, I’d have to say I am shocked.

2 things:

1- Now, let’s have everyone that clicked that one tell us what motivated them :)

2 – what were the FINAL tallies? were they any different?

Interesting, because I don’t remember you doing many webinars and maybe the fact that people really love you (don’t be modest, we do :) ) and found out registration was required and time was short, they needed to jump on it.

I bet those results are PPG specific, or at least related to the level of trust and interest in the sender.

Can we test that :)


Jan March 3, 2011 at 7:24 pm

I’m wondering how valid this test was. I get what you were trying to do, but sending several emails out at once is simply going to annoy most people (and might account for the low open rates).

I’ve been getting 3-5 emails a day from you lately, and I’m certainly not inclined to open all of them. In fact, this type/frequency of mailing is generally what gets me to unsubscribe.

I would venture a guess that more people opened the one that said “Your Registration” due to the deceptive nature of this subject line. You’re leading people to believe this email is about something they’ve already registered for. I might click on an email with that subject, but then I’d be annoyed that it was just a sales pitch trying to get me to sign up for a webinar, rather than info about a webinar for which I had already signed up.

So… deception may work to get people to open the email. But will it give you the results you’re looking for?

Charlotte March 3, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Logically speaking, number 4 is the best answer for this type of email. It was something that most of us would be looking for, since we had registered for the webinar..”common sense title”..I did not get that title and totally misread the question..I picked 8 because that’s what I opened. Personally I do not care for email title that sound like a threat, meaning, click now or else you lose. I like number 4!

PotPieGirl March 3, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Hey Sara!

Been thinking long about why THAT subject line won – maybe because it looked more official?

Hiya Bryan =)

Naturally, I can’t go using those subject lines again for quite some time because people do get “bored” with them and less-responsive.

But, if you see me using the style of the winner in a couple months, you’ll know exactly why I’m using it!

@Rick – I’m blown away too!

@ Kevin – I’d also love to hear from those that did open that email…would help answer MY questions, too.

As for final tallies – the winner is still the winner. All the emails open rates grew at normal percentage except the winner which had more growth than the others.

Oh, and you brought up a good point that I should clarify.

All the lists involved in this test were PotPieGirl “branded” lists – meaning they all meet me and clearly know I am the face behind the emails.

Great feedback – thanks you everyone!


tagum March 3, 2011 at 7:33 pm

I guess this kind of test will produce varied results. It will depend on the topic and reader’s interest. I am also curious about the sample size. :-)

PotPieGirl March 3, 2011 at 7:39 pm

Hiya Jan =)

Great feedback, thank you!

I just told Sara in the comment above that I think that subject line won because it looked more official.

However, the effectiveness AFTER they opened the email takes away my doubt that people were mad when they opened – or felt deceived.

The inside of the email was a reminder that we were starting in an hour and where to sign up if they did NOT already register.

The click-thru rate for that winning subject line shows me that more people clicked thru to the registration page after opening that subject line than they did for the other test subjects. (Note: all email body info and links were the same).

That leads me to believe they did not feel deceived or played since they took more action to go to the registration page than others did.

No, this isn’t a perfect test by any means, but to me, it’s interesting and helpful…and thought-provoking.

As for getting multiple emails…

First off I am so SORRY. I do NOT want to annoy people.

When/if that happens, please do this for me…

Open the email and scroll to the bottom to the unsubscribe link and click that.

The page you will go to will show you all the lists of mine that you are on. Click to remove the ones you don’t want to be on….or all of them.

That should really help.


PotPieGirl March 3, 2011 at 7:44 pm

@ Charlotte -I agree that it made more “sense”. When I was picking subject lines to use, I used Google and searched for subject lines specifically for webinars. Between that and all my notes I’ve seen others use before for webinars, I compiled this list of 8 that I used.

@ tagum – yep, someone else could probably run this same test on their lists and get totally different results.

Oh, and nope, not gonna share the “sample size” – but it didn’t hurt to ask, did it? ;)

Thanks everyone!


Tony March 3, 2011 at 7:46 pm

I thought I put #4, too, since that is the one that I received, and opened. I think that it worked because it read like an email one would receive at work.

Bruce March 3, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Ironically, I’ve seen #4 used before (over and over and over by everyone doing webinars) and yes it got me to click through and get to webinars in the past. But it is so darn “dry” and boring.

I missed the webinar because I was at a client that night. #2 felt like a personal invitation from Jennifer just for me. It made me feel guilty for staying so late at my client! Believe it or not, it really did impress me. IN FACT IT IMPRESSED ME SO MUCH THAT I JOINED WAU UNDER POTPIEGIRL WITHOUT ATTENDING THE WEBINAR! I don’t feel guity anymore :)

So Jennifer, have you analyzed the subject lines down to which one generated the most sign ups? Click throughs are great but “show me the money” (ha ha).

Jay @ Affiliate Lessons Blog March 3, 2011 at 8:29 pm

mine lost lol but it was close that is why testing is so important. Thanks, Jennifer!

victor wilson March 3, 2011 at 8:34 pm

Hi Jennifer,
Not really surprised at the test
leaderboard,as i read somewhere quite recently
that [bracketed] or(——) subject lines will ALWAYS
outperform non bracketed subject lines.

Thanks for the great content once again.

Regards, Victor Wilson

Dale March 3, 2011 at 8:50 pm

I think the results would have been different if it was the initial email offering registration. Some of the other subjects would peak interest. Since this was a follow up email and many of the recipients have already registered their interest doesn’t need to be peaked. It looks professional and it is clear that it includes information about something they already have an interest in

WilliamE March 3, 2011 at 9:13 pm

Hi Jennifer,
Cool Contest
Had Fun!!!
Maybe we could do something like that again Huh?
Congrats to Pamela- Good Job.
Just a little after thought- One person guessed the right one? Makes U think Abit- smells fishy.
Just Kiddin Ya Jen.
Everyone- Take Care to You and Yours
Bye Now

Joey March 3, 2011 at 9:55 pm

I am really surprised by the results of the test. I don’t really click on any of those e-mail headings. Perhaps, it’s cause I am a marketer or something. I was also surprised to hear the one person say that bracket in e-mail heading will be opened more than those without. To me, that just looks tacky.

This is really good information, though. I just just write subject lines from my head, and they never get opened…ha, ha, ha. :-) I need to really focus on building my list and such. I am gonna keep this in mind for future reference.

mark March 3, 2011 at 10:15 pm

People will do more to prevent loss than to win a gain of some sort. Fear of loss is a motivator.

Chris K. March 3, 2011 at 10:21 pm

That is quite surprising, but I guess that’s why you’ve got to test. :)

Reminds me of the test currently featured on http://whichtestwon.com/ One opt-in form had social proof (“Join 14,752 others and get free updates!”) and the other didn’t, yet it was the one without the social proof that outperformed (by a measure of 122%).

Dusan March 3, 2011 at 11:31 pm

If you think about, #4 makes sense. The brackets make it look like there might be two thoughts you were trying to express there. Or maybe only one. People had to check, make sure which one it is. Most people don’t like doubt, don’t like gray areas, don’t like incomplete thoughts.

michael March 3, 2011 at 11:59 pm

i think the reason why #4 won is because it began with – “[Your Registration]”

Don’t get me wrong, am not 100% sure but i have a feeling that those begining words probably made a difference.

Shane March 4, 2011 at 12:10 am

I actually think that spammers and sneaky evil marketers (not the PPG kind) have gotten so much into the forced personalization thing in subject lines that now we’re conditioned to be suspicious of those, more than look at them as coming from a friend or someone we trust.

Probably counterintuitive, but I’ve found it to be true for me, at least. If I see one that even has my name in the subject line, I get a little leery.

Robin Carlisle March 4, 2011 at 4:25 am


After reading some of the comments, I went back to my several email accounts to look at exactly what you sent to me that day and doublechecked the Trash just in case I had discarded some. Nope. I ONLY got three of those emails you listed. I got the three starting with:

Please come…
One hour notice…
Don’t let your spot…

Of these three, I only opened the “one hour notice…” one. I did go ahead and register, but had to go late to the webinar. Still, what I saw/heard was awesome.

I haven’t signed up yet for WA because last week, after attending someone else’s webinar, I got my Paypal and VISA accounts tied up in a game with an unscrupulous well-known IM marketer selling a new product. Jennifer, lol, you were probably promoting his stuff, too. Won’t mention names, but just dangy. Even Clickbank was shocked and I STILL do not have all the money returned to my accounts. That guy stole from me 3 times in four days. He’s got wretched customer service to boot, like they’re from another planet or something. Unbelievable.

Anyway, I did NOT get all your emails. I went back and checked. Only got those three. Just wanted you to know that in case that happened with others. I did, however, get several other emails that day from you about something else, so yeah, I was thinking to myself… what the heckledoodles is Jennifer up to today? I’m thinking it MUST be desperately important to her and THAT is why I opened the email at all. LOL, There I was going by your MAD Marketing recommendations NOT to open your emails, play video games, get distracted, etc. while doing your IMPORTANT MAD tasks…. So no kidding, I laughed when I saw all those emails pop up from you… thinking WHAT is she doing! LOL! So I did click on the email (bad MAD girl) and did click through to register… and did NOT purchase, but WILL do so when I get the VISA/Paypal debacle fixed.

Sorry, I should have bought from YOU first! Did buy several things from Travis through your link, so that’s some consolation if just a little bit. HIS business practices are top notch and I did cancel my Icky Words subscription ONLY because, just dangy, that OTHER nasty IM guy is taking ALL my time trying to clean up his mess-in’ with my Paypal/VISA accounts.

Whew! It’s been a busy week. Wish yall would all get together and spread it all out, lol. And just dangy, wouldn’t you know that my accounts were all tongue-tied when you had your big OWM anniversary 1/2 off sale! Rats! If you wanna put that one back online just for a day… tee hee… lemmee know! Love your stuff, but now I’m broke. But hopefully, you’ve made me “MAD” enough to get some money trickling in soon. I’ll be sure to pour some your way when there’s enough to share in the well.

Thanks for all you do….
Robin Carlisle

Robin Carlisle March 4, 2011 at 4:33 am

Just noticed… I got 6 emails from you on March 1, but don’t see this one listed in your chart. I didn’t open this one:
“Please come to this free webinar… I can’t wait to see you.”

Dacia March 4, 2011 at 4:45 am

Even though I picked #2, I should’ve known that Number 4 was the best choice because it reminds the reader that the webinar you registered for will soon begin.

Judy March 4, 2011 at 7:08 pm

I am a little shocked by the results but on the other hand I think so many of us are leary of subject lines that are full of hype that we ignore them. Sure number four seems a bit dull and dry but it is to the point!

Yvonne Finn March 5, 2011 at 8:05 pm


You thanked us for hanging in with you. I want to say thank you for these simple little things you do to help us be more effective in our online marketing.

I picked number 2 as well and would love to hear why you think number 4 did so well.


Tim March 6, 2011 at 12:32 am

Wow, Jennifer. I”m surprised as well.
I picked the same two you did: 8 and 2 and found 4 the most boring.

The results may reflect that people were expecting this email. They had already signed up for the webinar.

It would be interesting to see a test like this for a project promotion that doesn’t come on the heels of some sign up they’ve already done.

Lloyd Hester March 6, 2011 at 9:09 am

I am always amazed at the results of these tests.

I have been in sales and marketing for many years and always think that my headlines are great.

However, it is often the ones I least suspect that outperform all the others.

I now tend to keep a swipe file of headlines and titles to get me started using proven messages and try to keep my opinions to myself :-)

Jhoe@HVACColumbia March 7, 2011 at 9:34 pm

Definitely interesting and a surprise to most of us. Jennifer, you always amaze me with how much detail you go into. Thanks!

Rae@Rug Cleaning Santa Monica March 8, 2011 at 10:55 pm

Great tips on getting results with the subject lines. Im surprised that those lines got the most clicks.

Articole Copii March 9, 2011 at 5:59 pm

i think the reason why #4 won is because it began with – “[Your Registration]”

rana March 16, 2011 at 1:54 am

S I ask you a question Do you Yahoo Google Adsense tracking approach and how the way

Eternity Diamond Wedding Bands March 17, 2011 at 2:55 pm

The “your registration” subject line works the best as if feels as it entices the person to further register to completed the program.

Susan March 30, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Very interesting topic, I have “subject line” anxiety!!

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