Is "Thanks" A Magic Word For Email Marketing?

Eloqua blogger Joel Rothman recently shared the results of an interesting data-mining exercise: He analyzed 875 million email sends looking for the word “Thanks” or “Thank You” in the subject line:

Why should we say thank you more often? Emails with Thank You in the subject line have a significantly higher open rate. In the sample that I looked at it was 14.29% higher. The click through rate was higher as well, by 1.93%.

Joel also points out that marketers use “Thanks” in less than 1% of their subject lines. As a result, he encourages more (and more profitable) courtesy in our email subjects.

I think Joel’s research on this tactic is interesting and useful. But I’ll add a note of common-sense caution to his conclusion.

Specifically: How often is it actually appropriate to add a “Thank You” to a subject line without coming across as contrived or manipulative? There’s probably some room to use this tactic a bit more often, but it’s worse than useless to shoehorn “Thank You” into a subject line simply in order to game your response rates.

That, in turn, illustrates a larger point about any study that looks into subject-line response rates. The only real magic solution, in my opinion, is relevance – your ability to craft a persuasive subject line that makes sense within the context of a specific message and call to action.

In other words, know when to say “No Thanks” to contrived subject lines. Your recipients will, umm, thank you for not wasting their time.

-Matthew McKenzie


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