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3 controversial tactics to test in your subject line

Read the research, but conduct your own, too

A funny thing happens when you dig into what makes a successful subject line: There's no clear answer. With conflicting best practice advice out there, the only thing to do is test for yourself to find out what works for you subscribers. Subject line split testing is the best way to continuously optimize an extremely important part of your email marketing strategy. So when you stumble upon a stat or two that makes you wonder, don't just take the experts' advice. Here are three hot trends to test for yourself:


Character count

Email Stat Center reported subject lines with less than 10 characters had the highest open rate at 51%. That sounds pretty fantastic, but before you chop down all of your subject line copy, consider this: You may suffer a pretty poor click-through engagement rate when your subject line is that short, since 130 characters could be optimal if you're looking to get opens and clicks.



Marketing Charts recently reported that subject lines that mention recipients by name may see higher opens; however, personalizing both subject line and body could hurt your open rates causing them to drop to 5.3%. You may want to get creative and test what happens to opens and click activity with subject line personalization only, and then test personalization body copy only. And if you're feeling wild, test personalization in both places. 



It has been reported that symbols in subject lines can provide up to a 15% lift in opens, but if you look at engagement, those metrics have been somewhat hard to pin down. Maybe symbols don't appear consistenly for all of your recipients, or maybe they're just overplayed, but it's definitely worth testing to see how they work with your own audience.

If you've had any luck drawing some hard conclusions by split testing some of the things mentioned above, let us know! We'd love to hear from you.