Gordon Bennett! Swear words in email subject lines increases open rates by 28.6%

18/02/2016

Brits are almost 30% more likely to open an email if the subject line includes ‘old fashioned’ swear words, according to new research.

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The study, from Mailjet also suggests that while British people appeared responsive to cheeky marketing emails, the same cannot be said for American recipients
(27% open rate) compared to Americans (17% open rate).

The findings revealed contrasting responses to this bold technique:

· Brits responded well to swearing in the subject line opening 27% of emails, compared to only 17% being opened in America

· Brits responded best to ‘old fashioned’ swear words, such as ‘numpty’ which increased open rates by 26%

· Even ‘soft’ swear words had a negative effect on an American audience with a 30% decrease in open rates when the subject line included a curse word

This research, which was completed by email service platform Mailjet, highlights the importance of knowing your audience, and while caution should be applied to this approach, the results also demonstrate that calculated risks can result in considerable gains for savvy email marketers.

With the inclusion of curse words, the open rate among Brits increased by 28.6%, compared with the average open rate of emails sent to the same distribution list without any swear words included. The findings highlight that the UK market is more resilient and responsive to tongue in cheek marketing content.

In contrast, across the pond recipients appear to be more easily offended, with open rates falling by 30% when compared to average open rates to the same list. One US recipient issued a formal complaint against the inclusion of ‘cock-up’ in the subject line, arguing that it is inappropriate and caused offence.

The research found that Brits are most driven to open an email from a company if the subject line includes ‘old-fashioned’ swear words, such as ‘Gordon Bennett’ and ‘numpty,’ which saw a 27% and 26% open rate, respectively.

Amir Jirbandey, UK Marketing Manager at Mailjet comments: “From cobblers, to ‘cor blimey the research shows that marketers shouldn’t play it safe and rule out using colourful language. By carefully selecting marketing friendly swear words, instead of causing offense or embarrassment, it will lead to clicks and ultimately better connections. By getting creative with risqué language in subject lines, marketers have the opportunity to reach much wider audiences through their email marketing efforts.”

Jirbandey continued: “Caution should be applied to this approach: Only look to include colourful language if you know your audience well and if it directly relates to the content. Otherwise you run the risk of decreasing clicks, alienating your audience and potentially ringing the spam alarm.”

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