Valentine’s Day is around the corner and I’ve already seen some pretty clever subject lines come through my inbox. This made me wonder – how do these risky subject lines perform? Do they pay off by generating higher subscriber engagement or are they deleted without reading? I looked at Inbox Insight to see what the top performing subject lines around Valentine’s Day were last year. I looked at several large online flower retailers, online chocolatiers, and online gourmet gift stores.
Subject Lines with Excellent Engagement from Flower Retailers:
Starting at $29.99: OUR Valentine's Bestsellers
SAVE 20% Sitewide Today | Exclusive Valentine's Sale!
FREE Roses, Free Chocolates, Free Vase – LIMITED TIME!
Mystery Discount Inside: Reveal what you won!
Are you a betting man?
Valentine's Day Math: Get More, Save More (up to 55%)
The above subject lines high read rates with excellent overall engagement. The first 3 seem pretty standard but the last 3 are a bit more risky and eye catching. “Are you a betting man” was the subject line for an email on saving 25% today versus taking a chance that you will pay much more later. Interestingly, this subject line had a 20% higher read rate than “Are you a betting man? Save 25% on Valentine’s Flowers”. What’s the lesson here? Clever and eye catching subject lines can pay off!
Subject Lines with Excellent Engagement from Chocolatiers and Gourmet Gift Retailers:
Your FREE chocolate is waiting! Visit a Boutique today
Up to 40% OFF & FREE Shipping – Red, White & Chocolate Sale!
Long Stemmed Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Roses – Perfect!
Say It With Cheesecake And Save 20%
Forward this email to your Valentine…trust us
Free Delivery for Early Love Birds
On average, the chocolatiers and gourmet gift retailers had higher read rates than the flower retailers. Looks like most customers (me included) find emails to do with food, especially chocolate, more enticing to read! These retailers also seem to take more risks when it comes to subject lines as we can see from the list of high performing subject lines above.
I was, again, able to see results of subject line testing. “Long Stemmed Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Roses – Perfect!” had the same read rate as “Save on Long Stemmed Chocolate Dipped Strawberry Roses – Perfect!” BUT had a delete unread rate that was 26% higher! The words “Save on” prompted more people to continue reading the email.
Of 10 retailers I looked at, only one sent an email campaign asking customers to finish an order. The subject line for this campaign was “A Special Gift to Finish Your Order from Shari’s Berries”. Ironically this subject line had an incredibly high read rate, higher than most retailers' transactional campaigns around the same time period.
How are your Valentine’s Day campaigns performing? Are you doing anything risky or clever this time around?