Click-bait email subject lines most unpopular with consumers, says Return Path study

Click-bait email subjects lines are the least effective way to get recipients to open messages, according to a report from data solutions provider Return Path.

Research from the firm comparing subject line opening success found that clickbait subject lines, such as ‘You won’t believe this shocking secret…’ were among the least effective of the ten subject line types.

The analysis of more than nine million messages sent by international brands found that benefit-based subject lines featuring claims like ‘fastest’ were the best way to get consumers' attention.

Read rates for deadline-based subject lines including ‘limited time,’ ‘last chance,’ and ‘expiring’ were also high.

Those offering discounts and free goods performed poorly, with ‘discount,’ ‘save,’ ‘sales’ and ‘clearance’ taking lower read rates.

George Bilbrey, president of Return Path, said: “Subject line optimisation presents one of the clearest opportunities to apply advanced analytics toward understanding and significantly increasing marketing performance.

“By analysing extremely large data sets collected across the entire email ecosystem, based on how real subscribers engage with messages sent from thousands of trusted brands, marketers can quickly, efficiently, and confidently test subject lines to ensure that their messages are read by as many people as possible… the results are often surprising, frequently questioning or even invalidating long-held best practices.”

Check out the full report here.

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John McCarthy

John is an entertainment marketing reporter at The Drum. He writes about the amazing marketing stories coming from the movie, TV, music and video game industries. He's also the hunt for the weirder trends in marketing and advertising.

Fuelled by tea.

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