5 Tips for What’s Working in Email Marketing

Written by Vicki Powers

As Jay Schwedelson says, “you need to use every tactic or trick to get your email open” these days. As founder of SubjectLine.com and CEO of WorldData Group, Schwedelson certainly knows his stuff around email marketing. In his recent learning session, “What’s Working/Not Working in Email Marketing,” he quickly shared his email research expertise based on 6 billion transmitted email messages annually.

Before I get started, there is a caveat: with the changes in iOS15, there is evidence that we really can’t rely as fully on “open rates” due to the privacy settings that Apple changed. That said, we’ve seen differences still when we conduct A/B testing to show that these below tips do have an impact.

Here are five tips I pulled out to re-consider in my email campaigns for our MPD Ventures’ clients.

1. Whatever is essential should be stated in the first 50% of the subject line.

  • Schwedelson says we stop reading because we’re lazy. Or the message doesn’t show in our email preview. Putting essential content in the first 50% of the subject line garners a 37% higher open rate than having the content in the second 50%.
  • Starting a subject line with a number increases open rates 31%.
  • Mention the audience you’re mailing to – “only for marketers” or “just for small business owners” – increases open rates 38%. It feels like the message is speaking to you, and you want to open it.

2. Spam trigger words are a thing of the past.

email experts are the worstThings like using “free” or ALL CAPS, exclamation marks, [ ] or emojis are not off-limits now despite what some proclaimed email experts share.

I’ve pulled in Schwedelson’s chart here with his own stats as to the impact he’s seen.

(I can attest to the power of emojis as we’ve been A/B testing with a client recently and our emoji format pulled stronger.)

Engagement is all that matters in terms of deliverability. Schwedelson says the things we’ve been targeting to avoid will increase the open rate and get folks to stay in your inbox more.

3. Lists are home runs for marketers when you have no content.

If you don’t have a webinar or offer available, you always have a list. You’ve seen them in your own inbox: 6 Reasons to Choose Oracle, 5 Considerations to Moving Technology to the Cloud. Tie that into subject lines that promote list content, and you increase open rates 27% with B-to-B organizations.

Why do lists work?

  • They’re easy to scan for info.
  • We don’t like to feel we’re missing out.
  • It’s fun to guess what is on the list.
  • We love being proved right.
  • We know exactly what we’re getting.

4. Highlight a topic, and not specifically a webinar, in the subject line

This strategy earns a 38% higher click-through rate. A lot of it is unconscious – it’s not that you hate the word “webinar.” You may equate it to boredom or that your calendar is too busy to schedule it vs. “I don’t know these top trends.”


  • These 5 Email Trends Will Impact 2022 Marketing, versus
  • Webinar: 5 Email Trends to Impact 2022 Marketing

5. Adding “watch now” in the subject line increases open rates by 27%.

Our habits have changed in the last two years during the pandemic, and we consume content differently.

“On-demand” is old. Add “watch now” to your call-to-action button as well, in place of “register.” This has increased clicks by 22%.

In this everchanging list, webinars went from the top-performing form of content in 2021 to one of the worst in 2022. We are interested in different things. E-books and infographics are now the worst – it feels old-school. The best performing types of content to offer by email now are “free guides” and “lists/checklists” with a 29% average open rate.=

I’ve shamelessly borrowed Schwedelson’s slide with these stats:

BtoB Open Rates offer Mentioned in Subject Lines

How about a bonus #6?

Best advice from Schwedelson regarding forms and landing pages? When you send people to a landing page, you want them to do something. But forms feel like homework. You’ll reach a 42% lower completion rate if it takes longer than 45 seconds to complete the form.

The goal is to gather a large database with fewer fields of content. You can always ask for more information later. Every required field will make your audience drop off by 8%.

If you love these tips, don’t miss the free virtual email marketing conference dubbed Guru Conference on November 2-3, 2022. Divided into seven tracks, Schwedelson and other experts will deliver the latest around email deliverability, design trends, quick tips and pitfalls, B-to-B and B-to-C, exploring platforms, and the future of email marketing.

You can bet that I’ll be attending and bringing back insights for our clients.