This holiday season, deck the halls with boughs of email.

During the holiday season, email open rates begin to spike as consumers scramble to find the best deals on decorations and gifts. According to a 2014 survey published by Marketing Profs, marketers began to see higher than normal engagement rates as early as October, with open rates peaking in mid-December.

But to make sure your emails get opened, you should ensure you’re optimizing your subject lines. Are you using words that compel your subscribers to see what’s inside?

In this post, we’ll share the most powerful words to use in email subject lines, and how you can apply them to your holiday email marketing.

Using power words in email subject lines

Recently, we reported on the success of power words in email subject lines. We found that certain words performed particularly well and began calling these high-performers “power words.”

But we also noticed that some words only had an effect when they were the first or last word of the subject line. Sometimes, this was simply because a word like “Introducing” would only occur at the beginning of the subject line, but it’s still an important distinction. After all, context and word order matter.

When it comes to subject lines, you can’t throw a bunch of words together and expect your open rates to magically increase. Instead, you can combine some of the top-performing words with a carefully crafted message. These power words serve as helpful guides, but they’re not a magic bullet.

The 15 most powerful words in email subject lines:

15 power words for email subject lines

How to use power words in subject lines for holiday emails

Personalization and personal pronouns

When you look over the list of power words, you’ll see that the most successful word is someone’s name. “You” and “You!” are pretty high up there as well, and that’s because people love when things are personalized.

Capital One email subject line example

When you talk directly to your subscribers, you’re encouraging them to get to know you better. Be generous with your use of personal pronouns, and consider personalizing your subject lines.

Emails with personalized subject lines are 26% more likely to be opened, so it’s a great way to get your emails to stand out in crowded inboxes during the holiday season.

Excitement and special offers

It’s no secret that customers and clients love a deal, and as Black Friday and Cyber Monday approach, we’re all thinking about how we can capture a customer’s attention. You’ll notice that many power words allude to special offers, sales, events, or something exciting and new (“Introducing” and “News”).

This may have more to do with the content of your email than the subject line itself. During the holidays, you’ll benefit from special offers or sales, even if you’re a B2B company. For example, Canva sent out an email with new (power word) templates, specifically for Halloween.

Canva email subject line example

Other email subject line considerations

Things change during the holidays, but much about marketing remains the same. First and foremost, you need to think about how you can delight your subscribers. In order to do that, you should consider these other email subject line tips:

Enlist the emoji

In the past couple of years, the use of the emoji has taken off. Email marketing clients have begun to support emoji, and now we can use them in subject lines. Just remember to test emoji on different email platforms before clicking send. You want to make sure they look great in Gmail, Outlook, and other platforms. For more info, read our post on how to use emoji in subject lines.

email subject line from Airfare watchdog

Play around

The holidays are a time of merriment and cheer. Use these positive feelings to your advantage, and sprinkle some playfulness into your email subject lines. For example, Product Hunt sent out an email on National Cat Day with a silly pun. The subject line is so charming that subscribers can’t help opening the email with a smile.

Email subject line example from Product Hunt

A/B test subject lines

No matter the time of year, A/B testing your subject lines is always a good idea. It’s hard to know what will work for you without testing. Email marketing platforms like Campaign Monitor make it easy to test out different subject lines for the same email to see which has a higher open rate. To learn more about how to do this, read our post on A/B testing email subject lines.

Wrap up

This holiday season, send emails with subject lines that spread cheer:

  • Holiday emails see higher open rates than those at other times of the year, so it’s important to step up your game when it comes to subject lines.
  • Power words can help. Personalizing your email subjects and hinting at new offers and special events can increase open rates.
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