October 17, 2006, 12:00 AM

Subject-line branding one key to e-mail marketing campaigns, study says

Branding in an e-mail subject line gets an open rate that’s 32% to 60% higher than when an e-mail doesn’t have such branding, according to a new study by Silverpop.

Branding in an e-mail subject line is critical to campaign success – in fact, it’s worth an open rate that’s 32% to 60% higher than when the e-mail doesn’t have such branding, according to a new study from e-mail services provider Silverpop Systems Inc.

The study, “E-mail Creative That Works,” confirms some common beliefs in identifying and validating best e-mail marketing practices in terms of creative from an analysis of 610 e-mails, both b2c and b2b, sent by 430 companies to 100 or more recipients. Among them: lifestyle photography, that favorite tool of ad agency creative directors, does pay off in higher e-mail click rates, but only for b2c marketers. The average click rate for b2c e-mails with lifestyle photography was 6.3% and 5.4% without it, but for b2b e-mails, the click rate for those that included lifestyle photography, 4.1%, was lower than for e-mails that didn’t include it, 5.3%.

The analysis also revealed a few surprises. While the postcard design remains a favorite of b2c e-mail marketers, it doesn’t produce the highest click rates for those marketers. What does is the newsletter format, which produced average click rate of 7.1% for b2c marketers, versus 6.2% for e-mails using the postcard layout. The study’s conclusion: b2c marketers should take a serious look at newsletter-style copy and layouts.

Another finding is that it’s possible to stuff too many links into an e-mail. Silverpop reports that while it might seem logical that the more links in an e-mail, the higher the click rate, that number actually drops off after somewhere in the range of six to 10 links per email. One more surprise was that while the senders of b2c marketing e-mails including a promotion most often featured a percentage off the purchase price, it’s dollars off that generated higher clicks.

“Click rates for emails offering a specific dollar amount off were 45% higher than those offering a percent discount,” according to the study. “Apparently shoppers are more interested in receiving $2 off a $10 purchase than in getting a 20% discount.”

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