In order to really grab your customer’s attention this holiday season, your subject lines must be effective and actionable.
Easier said than done- especially during the holidays when all businesses send emails and our inboxes are overwhelmed with hundreds of messages.
From this article, you will learn how to craft that “effective and actionable” subject line as well as what subject lines performed best during the holidays last year.
We have analyzed the most common words, discounts, and emojis that contributed to the best open rates. Carry on reading and learn from the best ones.
Table of Contents
1. Insights Into Holiday Email Subject Lines From 2018
We analyzed over 6000 campaigns sent to clients bases with more than 6000 subscribers between Nov 27, 2018, and Jan 5, 2019. This time period was chosen on purpose to cover the entire holiday season that started just after the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend.
What we found in campaigns coming after Black Friday/Cyber Monday stood well apart from the shopping weekend.
First of all, merchants sent multiple campaigns. During the six weeks that we were analyzing, merchants sent significantly more emails than usually do. Some of them were sending campaigns related to dates and occasions, but the vast majority of senders did that randomly.
The most popular words in those subject lines were the following:
It was quite surprising that during this time only 3.75% of subject lines had “holidays” mentioned in the subject lines. “Christmas” was way more popular.
As you can see the most popular word was “OFF”, which indicated discounts. Overall, 27% of all subject lines had a discount mentioned. It means that even the biggest sales of the year were over, merchants carried on offering deals and discounts for their customers.
The most popular discounts during this period were 25% and 30%. See the list of the most popular discounts that were offered by merchants during the 2018 holiday season:
25% and 30% discounts were the most popular. Exceedingly few merchants offered generous 50%+ discounts. On the other hand, a 10% discount was seldom as well.
What was interesting that discounts with “$” signs were used less than 20 times in all 6000+ campaigns.
2. Top Five Emojis In Holiday Email Subject Lines
Emojis are getting more and more popular in email subject lines. Last year 18% of holiday email subject lines had one or more emojis inside. Emojis add that little punch of color and fun to draw your customer’s eye and make your email stand out from the crowd.
If emojis fit your brand identity, consider using them in your subject lines as well. Here is why:
- Emojis help you stand out in a crowded inbox
- Emojis increase your open rate
- These little icons save space in the subject line
- They help convey an emotion
- A/B testing with and without emojis won’t cost you a thing.
During the holiday season last year, some particular emojis stood out from the rest. Obviously, the ones most related to the holiday season:
3. Top 20 Holiday Email Subject Lines
At Omnisend, we analyze subject lines a lot. See the top 20 holiday email subject lines sent in 2018 below. If you want to find more great examples, check out our collection of the best subject lines.
|#||Subject Line||Open Rate|
|1||🚨 This is an Emergency||47.15%|
|2||💫 Catch of the Day||45.39%|
|3||❄️ Price Freeze – Black Friday Deals Back||44.58%|
|4||3D Moon Lamp 🎄: 50% OFF(7 Days Shipping)||41.58%|
|5||🚗 Your Adventure Begins NOW||39.53%|
|6||🎄Tick tock. (early holiday up to 75% off )||39.08%|
|7||Psst !! Up to 75% OFF happening right now!||37.31%|
|8||Happy New Year from [brand]||36.89%|
|9||Even more 💰 off – 75% OFF!!||36.78%|
|10||🎄Christmas Sale 🎄 🎁||32.22%|
|11||🎁 Gifts For Her Under $20!||31.82%|
|12||🎁 Gifts For Him Under $20!||31.75%|
|13||🎁Last call for early Christmas deals 25% off||31.07%|
|14||Merry Christmas Sale!||30.63%|
|15||Boxing Day Sale 🔥||30.58%|
|16||Christmas Pattern Sale!!||30.33%|
|17||Box these deals like you mean it! 25% OFF||29.81%|
|18||25 % OFF + Christmas shopping deals||29.67%|
|19||Thank you! 75% OFF for being an awesome customer||29.65%|
|20||Ho Ho Ho FreeShipping, Here we go! ✌️||29.59%|
4. The Five Main Principles To Crafting Your Holiday Email Subject Line
You can only learn what subject lines work best for your business by testing different variations.
However, some best practices can facilitate your initial ideas for subject lines. By following them you will increase your chance to be noticed and get emails opened. Also, you will reduce the chance of ending up in the SPAM folder, which is critical to any email campaign.
So let’s see what good subject line practices are:
#1 Concise subject lines
As you can see from the email subject lines listed above, you don’t need fancy words in your subject lines. Try to be short and straight to the point.
Subject lines should be visible for both – mobile and desktop – users, so the sweet spot is 4-6 words or 21-50 characters.
Subject lines of this length are optimal for all gadgets that people use for reading emails.
#2 Key information goes first
Long email subject lines are always at risk of being cut off on mobile devices. To avoid this, focus on your key proposal and put it in front.
If this time you have a sale, start your email subject line with “Sale”. If it’s for Black Friday or New arrivals, put that in the front.
#3 Urgency and FOMO matter
If people leave something “for later”, it often means “never”. That’s just how we are.
That’s why you should create urgency and push your customers to act now and don’t postpone it for later.
You can create that by using limited-time offers: “24-hours offer”, “Only today”, “Sale ends tonight”, etc.
Another good practice is including FOMO (fear of missing out) elements, like “Don’t miss”, “Have you already seen…”, etc.
#4 Use actionable verbs
All marketers know: strong and measured call-to-action is king in online business. Use this rule in your email subject lines. Short and punchy words like “get”, “buy”, “discover”, “learn” encourage people to click on and take action.
However, don’t overdose them because they might trigger spam filters.
I wouldn’t suggest using them together with spammy words like “free”, “100%”, or in spammy combinations with letter capitalization, exclamation marks, etc.
#5 Include numbers
50% of top holiday subject lines listed above include numbers. As you can see, merchants use them a lot.
There are a few reasons why numbers are useful in the email subject lines:
- They stand out from the text
- They provide specific information about a sale or discount and set up customer expectations
Numbers are definitely something worth trying for upcoming holiday email campaigns.
5. Retail Holiday Calendar For December
Apart from Christmas, there are many different occasions during the holiday season to send a message to your customers.
Find below the ultimate retail holiday calendar for 2019-2020. It might have some great ideas for your holiday communication.
Download The Ultimate Retail Holiday Calendar for 2019-2020!
- There is a significant increase in the number of promotional campaigns sent during the end of November 2018 and the beginning of January 2019.
- Although this period of time goes just after the Black Friday sales and covers Christmas and other seasonal holidays, the main words for subject lines remain “OFF” and “Sale”.
- Merchants tend to offer significant discounts. 25% and 30% discounts are the most popular.
- Every fifth email subject lines sent during the holiday season had at least one emoji in 2018. Using emojis in subject lines adds momentum.
- Email subject lines that generated best open rates are short, and effective with emojis and numbers used.
If you are specifically interested in Christmas subject lines, you should check out this article.