Email opens: our first sentence has more impact than our subject line

While we are still working on our next webinar “800 000 Sales Email Conversations in Europe”, some stats piqued our curiosity: impacts of variables in subject lines versus preview texts, onto the open rates of these text emails.

(Note: these stats come from text emails sent by sales reps to leads in the UK, Nordics, Benelux)

 

What is the email preview and is it widely used?

Preview text is an extract of the first characters of the email body and displayed close to the subject line. It looks like this:

 

email preview text extract

 

A large majority of desktop, webmail or mobile email clients now display a preview pane.

Some of them display more of the first sentence: iPhone Native app -which represents 33% of all emails opens– displays up to 90 characters, Outlook desktop app -6% market share- gives 35 characters. (source: Litmus 2017 report)

 

Benchmark variables in subject or preview lines

Let’s dive into the two graphs which grabbed our attention:

The first one measures the impact of variables/tricks in the subject line on open rates:

 

email subject line

 

In this previous chart we have tested dozens of variables to isolate the ones with major impacts on open rates (such as the company name or the use of special characters).

The second graph dissects other types of variables in the first sentence of the email body (the preview text in email clients):

 

email auto preview

 

Here again these are just the variables which drive the top changes in open rates. We’ve dropped the ones with no statistical impact.

Without going into conclusions on each variable (we’ll go into this during the webinar) we can see that variables in subject lines create up to 15% impact while variables in previews create up to 104% impact. Therefore it is easy to conclude that:

– Variables in the preview have more impact than the ones in subject lines.

– Meaning our brain gives more weight to preview text than to subject text when deciding to open or trash an email.

 

This sounds counter-intuitive, right?

My best guess is the following: after years of marketing tricks in subject lines to hack our brain to make us open emails, the credibility of subject lines has dropped big time. Our internal processor now relies more on the extract of the first sentence (less manipulated by marketers until now) to take a decision.

 

After years of marketing tricks in subject lines to hack our brain to make us open emails, the credibility of subject lines has dropped big time.

 

800k sales emails in UK.

 

Come join us for the 30 mins webinar to uncover other unexpected insights on sales emails.