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Sandie YoungSeptember 24, 20204 min read

6 Email Marketing Techniques to Test Right Now

INBOUND 2020 is quite a different experience compared to past years. I’m not in Boston with my team meeting new people; I’m in my home office attending virtual sessions and networking with my avatar. 

While yes, I really miss the in-person aspect of INBOUND, HubSpot is absolutely crushing its execution of a virtual event in the midst of unprecedented times. 

Among the sessions that inspired me most so far: Jay Schwedelson’s session on Critical Email Marketing Techniques to Crush the Competition, which included tactical ways to improve your email performance now. Jay Schwedelson (@worldata) is the CEO of Worldata and made all recommendations based on a deep arsenal of email data points. 

For this session, he dove into data from 200 million emails over the last 30 days, so we as marketers can react and adjust to “new normal“ consumer behaviors. After all, our lives have changed dramatically over the last six months, impacting the way we leverage and interact with all digital channels. 

In Jay’s words, “Email is cool again.” And Worldata email performance data gives further proof that we are in what you might call an email renaissance.

Inbox activity increased by 22% as compared to January (i.e. pre-pandemic norms). B2B open rates were up 16% compared to January and B2C rates were up by 25%. 

Now that consumers are more engaged with email, now is the perfect time to test new approaches and discover what works. Below are several suggested changes to make to your email marketing, according to Jay’s data, and see if it impacts your open rates! 

6 Experiments to Increase Open Rates 

1. Send a marketing email on a Monday. 

The way we start our work week looks a lot different these days. For a lot of professionals, everything we do on Monday is virtual. Since our work life has changed, our email schedules should change too. 

Monday is becoming a great day to send emails—especially on the B2B side. That said, Jay’s data shows that Friday is still a tough day for open rates. Jay encourages marketers to “break out of your mold” and test a promotional send on a Monday. 

2. Test subject line words that increase open rates. 

A smaller variable to test is different language in your subject lines. According to Jay’s Worldata, the following words increased open rates over the last 30 days:

  • Free
  • Today 
  • Last chance
  • In stock
  • “Month”
  • Tomorrow
  • Available 
  • Hours
  • Hurry 
  • Curbside 
  • Expires 
  • Open 
  • Job/ career 
  • Deserve 
  • Exclusive

Some of these aren’t surprising. Offer expiration is often successful in email, along with free offers. However, to speak to the times, words like job and deserve are worth testing in your subject lines. In light of harder times, we all feel like we might deserve that extra little something.  

Words that impacted open rates negatively include (stay away from these!)—meeting, chat, quick, learn, urgent, training, featured, remember. 

3. Use really short (or really long) subject lines. 

Get your reader’s attention via the length of your subject lines. Over the last 30 days, subject lines with less than 20 characters saw an increase in open rates: 

  • B2B increased by 27%.
  • B2C increased by 29%. 

Only 9% of all subject lines had less than 20 characters, so it made these emails stand apart from the rest. 

Conversely, longer subject lines (more than 65 characters) also saw a lift in open rates. This may also be because only 7% of subject lines were this lengthy. 

4. Don’t sugar coat the reality of the situation. 

Most B2B organizations aren’t dodging the reality of the situation. They are speaking directly to the impact of the pandemic in email marketing—and it’s driving huge performance. It’s clear that people want information as it relates to today. 

B2C organizations are also addressing the pandemic, but in a more indirect manner. 

Regardless, if you haven't addressed it with your audience, it might be worth drafting a relevant message that creates value for your audience. 

After all, emails with subject lines that acknowledge the situation have increased open rates by 48% for B2C and 34% for B2C, according to Jay. 

5. Condense your email schedule. 

The number of offer-related emails have increased, and the numbers show that the appetite is there for it. 

Not only have they increased but the email sequences are tighter. In March 2020, B2B averaged two sends over two weeks. Now, B2B is averaging three sends over two weeks. 

We used to worry about sending too many messages, but the question now might be: are we sending enough? 

6. Make your emails more fun! 

It’s been a trying year. Don’t shy away from email tactics that delight and entertain. Animated GIFs continue to prove effective in email engagement, and emojis in subject lines increase open rates by 14-17%. 


Plus, those that use exaggeration with subject lines are seeing success. This might include capitalization of your subject line or adding emphasis with more letters (think: today is the dayyyy!). 

As Jay says, “Every email that goes out is an opportunity to learn something new.” 

Ready to start experimenting? Me too! 

Beyond email, how are you making the most of HubSpot?

Whether you're a longtime HubSpot user or just getting started, this GamePlan includes a detailed action plan to maximize your use of the platform. Download the GamePlan for insight into all action items that should fall within your marketing program. 

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Sandie Young

Sandie Young started at the agency during the summer of 2012, with experience in magazine journalism and a passion for content marketing. Sandie is a graduate of Ohio University, with a Bachelor of Science from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. Full bio.