Table - Top Ten Subject Line Keywords By Open Rate, 2011 Holidays

More than 13% of the major online retailers tracked by The Retail Email Blog in July referred to Christmas or the holidays, a higher proportion than in any of the prior 6 years. According to a new report from Epsilon, as the holiday season nears, retailers may want to rethink their subject lines, as the most popular keywords used during the 2011 season did not drive the highest open rates.

In fact, the Epsilon study finds that the subject-line keywords that had the highest open rates, “coupon” (16.3%) and “intro” (16.1%), were only used in 2.1% and 0.4% of retail emails, respectively. Similarly, “toy” (14.7%), “now” (14.5%), and “new” (14.2%), which rounded out the top 5 subject line keywords in 2011 by open rate, were only used in 0.3%, 4.9%, and 9% of emails, respectively.

By contrast, “free” (used in 25.2% of emails), “shipping” (in 24.8%), and “sale” (in 12%), the most-used keywords in holiday subject lines, only saw open rates ranging from 10.2-10.9%. Read the rest at MarketingCharts.