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[Data] Lessons Learned from 58,316,432 Emails we Sent in 2013

We send a lot of email.

Actually, the 58 million emails we sent from Digital Marketer in 2013 only scratches the surface.  We also send millions of emails from our other divisions here at Idea Incubator (our parent company) such as Survival Life, Absolute Rights and Free Digital Reads.

Add in all the email we send on behalf of clients, and it’s no wonder we spend so much time analyzing and testing our email marketing.

And today, we’re going to crack open our email stats and let you have a look.

Here are some general things to keep in mind about this data,

  • The Open Rates and Click-Through Rates (CTR) for our general list are much lower than emails to list segments.  When we send to list segments (which we often do) these numbers are up to 10X higher.
  • There are numerous variables that affect Open Rates and CTR including the frequency of emails sent, date and time of day, etc.  In this analysis, we’ll look only at subject lines and body copy.
  • The emails discussed in this article were sent to the general Digital Marketer list of roughly 260,000 people for free content emails and 350,000 for promotional email.

Also, I’ve made note of some particular best practices but I’d love for you to provide your own analysis in the comments section.

We look at our email stats sent from Digital Marketer in two buckets:

  • Free Content Emails – These emails contain links and promote free content on the Digital Marketer blog.
  • Promotional Emails – These emails contain links and promote offers like Brown Box Formula, Facebook Ad Power or events like Traffic and Coversion Summit.

We’ll look at both of these buckets in turn.  Ready?  Let’s get our data on!

Free Content Emails

In 2013 we sent emails promoting free content on our blog twice per week on average.

Here’s what worked and what didn’t…

Subject Line Open Rates

The Open Rate is the number of emails that were opened divided by the number sent expressed as a percentage.

Nothing affects the open rate more than the subject line.  That said, other factors like the timing of emails sent, the frequency of which we are emailing, etc. also have an impact on open rates.

These are the top three email subject lines we ran promoting free content on the blog in 2013,

  1. Warning: SMS Marketing is Now “Illegal” – 7.5% Open Rate
  2. 4 Ways to Maximize Your Google Analytics – 6.6% Open Rate
  3. Product and Domain Name generator (Free Resource 2 of 3) – 6.5% Open Rate

Lessons Learned:  Good email subject lines often contain a promise to provide a benefit or protect from a threat.  They are also relevant, specific and, often, are timely.  Our best performer, ‘Warning:SMS Marketing is Now “Illegal’ contains a threat and the word ‘NOW’ in the subject line provides timeliness.  The other top performers promise to provide a benefit.

Give us your analysis in the comments section.

Body Copy Click-Through Rates (CTR)

The Click-Through Rate (CTR) is the number of clicks on links in the email divided by the number of opens expressed as a percentage.

The quality of the body copy has an enormous affect on the number of clicks an email will receive.

These emails got the best click-through rates in 2013,

The subject line of this email was ‘Download this SEO Template’ and it received a 32.2% CTR,

Email with high CTR

Lessons Learned:  As a general rule, we will include multiple links to the same page.  In this short email, there are three links to the article.  Secondly, providing additional value beyond the article (in this case an SEO Template) increases interest and CTR.

Give us your analysis in the comments section.

The subject line of this email was ’72 headline formulas that get social media clicks’ and it received a 27.8% CTR,

Email with high Click-Through Rate

Lessons Learned: Once again, this email promises to provide additional value by giving you access to our Headline Swipe File.  The email makes it clear that this is a free offer by saying “no charge.”  Also, the use of the phrase “Smart marketers keep swipe files” will compel anyone without a swipe file to click and get one started.

Give us your analysis in the comments section.

The subject line of this email was ‘Million dollar ecommerce lessons [No charge]’ and it received a 27.8% CTR,

Content email with a high click through rate

Lessons Learned: This email steals authority from enormous ecommerce brands by mentioning Crate and Barrel, REI and NewEgg and fortifies their authority with their annual sales numbers.  It also makes a big promise of delivering ‘million dollar ecommerce lessons.’

Give us your analysis in the comments section.

Promotional Email

In 2013 we sent promotional email on average 7 times per week.

These are the top three email subject lines we ran promoting offers in 2013,

Subject Line Open Rates

  1. I feel kinda sorry for you… 8.2%
  2. Facebook closing down? – 8.0%
  3. BREAKING NEWS…  7.6%

Lessons Learned: Our top performer attacks the reader emotionally and it’s difficult to resist clicking on a subject line that is so personal.  The second and third are similar in that they promise to reveal something that is timely and that the reader is unaware of.

Give us your analysis in the comments section.

Body Copy Click-Through Rates (CTR)

Here are the top performing promotional emails we sent in terms of click-through rate.

The subject line of this email was ‘Important letter for you’ and it received a 28.7% CTR,

Promotional Email with High CTR

Lessons Learned: This email creates curiosity because it states that a letter has been written directly to the reader.  The brevity of this email is part of its strength because it just teases the reader with the prospect of the PDF letter.  It closes with a strong P.S. that creates urgency.

Give us your analysis in the comments section.

The subject line of this email was ‘Merry Christmas to You!’ and it received a 23.3% CTR,

Promotional Email with a High CTR

Lessons Learned: This email was sent on December 25th.  That’s correct, on Christmas day.  Very few emails are sent on holidays such as Christmas, Easter or New Years Day.  This email proves that sending email on these days can be successful.

Give us your analysis in the comments section.

The subject line of this email was ‘Free 68 page book’ and it received a 29.1% CTR,

Email with offer gets high CTR

Lessons Learned:  There are 5 links in this email to the same landing page.  And, although this email is longer than the others we’ve looked at, it is still very brief.  The copy builds value for the book through an endorsement from Ryan Deiss.  Also, notice how the phrase ‘for less than a fancy coffee at Starbucks…’ is used to add impact to the low price.

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