Types of Feedback

Improving Your Email Open Rate With Helpfull Surveying

In the world of digital commerce, email-marketing is essential for the success of practically every business on the market. With Helpfull, business owners and marketers can test their headlines in front of hundreds of panelists.

December 22, 2020

Create Effective Email Subject Lines Using Helpfull Surveying


In the world of digital commerce, email-marketing is essential for the success of practically every business on the market. There are a variety of reasons why email marketing has remained a relevant form of advertising for nearly three decades:

  • It’s very easy 
  • It integrates well with other marketing channels
  • Email advertisements are extremely cost-effective
  • Nearly every consumer has an email address

These days, most email campaigns can be run almost entirely by automation. The ability to plan and set schedules for content dissemination also allows businesses to engage with their consumers on a regular basis. Emails drive heavy webflow traffic, and they’re often the most immediate way a business can introduce a sale or promotion to their customers.

The most common reason email marketing campaigns fail is often poor title design. In order for the emails to be effective, the intended recipient has to click and open it up; for this to happen, you must draw them in with an engaging and relevant title.

Even if the consumer is actively looking for your content, they have to search for it through a sea of distracting email headlines and product offers. This is why many marketers choose to test their email titles with a consumer focus group. Without an engaging title that attracts the consumer’s attention, the success of the email marketing campaign is significantly diminished.

Using Helpfull surveying, business owners and marketers can test headlines in front of hundreds of panelists. With a variety of demographic options to choose from, Helpfull surveys are the ideal tool for getting quick, effective feedback from your target market.

How To Create An Effective Email Headline

Imagine your email title is a phrase being shouted at the top of someone’s lungs over a crowd of other voices inside of a bustling street market. You’re looking to draw your audience’s attention away from all of the other bright and distracting stalls. 

In order to cut through all of the noise that is otherwise preventing you from making a sale, you’ll need to adapt some of the traditional psychological tricks employed in traditional marketing efforts. 

When developing your email headlines, keep the following tips in mind:

  • Use “You” to draw the consumer into your email - consumers love to feel catered to, and if they feel considered they will give you that same consideration
  • Ex. “You can save up to 25% off by shopping now!”
  • Play on a customer’s sense of urgency to spur them to action
  • Ex. “ALERT - 15% off site-wide sale is ENDING TONIGHT!”
  • Keep your title short & sweet - too long, and they’ll be cut off by the email software or disregarded by the consumer
  • Ex. “Announcing - Our New Album”
  • Keep the title relevant and related to the content of the email
  • Ex. “Introducing our Newest Line of Luxury Sandals”
  • Use important dates - customer birthdays, holidays - to draw in their attention
  • Ex. “Tis The Season To Check Out Our Holiday Deals!”
  • Pose a question to the consumers
  • Ex. “Are you satisfied with your health insurance?”

The techniques listed above are tried and true methods for increasing the open-rate for your emails. After developing a series of test titles that utilize different elements of these marketing techniques, you’re ready to start surveying.

Survey #1 - Testing Subject Lines For Sale Announcements

For our first set of tests, we posed as a cosmetics brand looking to announce an extra-special 30% off store-wide sale. Due to the limited-time nature of this deal, it’s important that we’re able to grab our audiences’ attention with an email subject that is captivating. 

Using the techniques outlined prior, we developed eight “test subjects” to run in a split option survey:

  • “Tell your friends - we’re having a 30% off sale store-wide.”
  • “URGENT - 30% off store-wide sale is ENDING TONIGHT!”
  • “You can save up to 30% off our entire store by shopping now!”
  • “30% OFF STORE-WIDE SALE - ENDS MIDNIGHT TONIGHT”
  • “Cosmetics for Cheap - Shop 30% off luxury makeup brands”
  • “Are we crazy? Check out our latest sale & find out for yourself.”
  • “You don’t want to miss this - save 30% off your entire purchase.”
  • “30% off sale store-wide. Yeah, we went there.”

We asked 100 Helpfull panelists to vote on the email header they found to be the most “attention-grabbing”. After just 17 minutes, we had our answer.


Of the eight options, the largest percentage of the audience preferred the most bold and energetic subject line, “30% OFF STORE-WIDE SALE - ENDS MIDNIGHT TONIGHT”. 

Our test audiences overwhelmingly preferred the headlines they felt were direct, informative, and inspired urgency. The use of all capital letters was found to be more effective in expressing the magnitude and veracity of the sale; capping the headline off with a deadline urges consumers to act quickly.

Survey #2 - Announcing New Product Lines

Moving away from sales promotion, we’re now looking to bring awareness to our brand. We’ve got a new line of sneakers we would like to advertise to our consumers; due to the transient nature of sneaker trends, most of our sales are going to come within the first few weeks following the initial product drop.

To find the most effective headline for our announcement email, we’ve asked another 100 Helpfull panelists to consider the following test titles:

  • “Introducing our Newest Line of Premium Sneakers”
  • “Look Fresh - Feel Fresh. Shop our newest line of sneakers today.”
  • “Looking this good should be illegal.”
  • “Hey all you sneakerheads - check out our latest shoe drop!”
  • “These new kicks look 🔥HOT!🔥 Shop now!”
  • “Kick off your holiday season with these fresh kicks!”
  • “How did we outdo ourselves yet again?”
  • “BRAND NEW Sneaker Line Dropping TODAY - Shop Now!”



As was the case with our first survey, consumers were most drawn to the title they felt was the most direct and relevant. “BRAND NEW Sneaker Line Dropping TODAY - Shop Now!” not only captures audience attention with the strategic use of capital letters - it urges consumers to click through and purchase our product immediately. Don’t shop tomorrow, don’t shop next week - shop now

Survey #3 - Soliciting Donations Through Email

For organizations that don’t have a product to sell, email marketing still serves many important functions. Perhaps the most important function email marketing serves for not-for-profit and charity organizations is the ability to solicit donations from your customers.

Asking for consumers to donate money can be a very contentious act. Most consumers will feel averse to anything that asks them to donate; such one-sided transactions can be a very hard sell. Testing the effectiveness of your email headlines before you start your marketing campaign can have a real and measurable impact on your success.

For our final survey, we told our Helpfull panelists we represented a political organizing group that promotes exotic pet law reform. Taking on the role of our email subscribers, our Helpfull panelists were asked to tell us what subject line is the “most likely to inspire you to give our email a read”. We tested the following email headlines before an audience of 200 pollsters:

  • “Announcing”
  • “What $5 can do for our mission”
  • “UPDATE - We’re nearing our donation goal, just $5 will help!”
  • “Donate $5 and get a free campaign sticker!”
  • “3 reasons for you to donate TODAY”
  • “Join us in our cause - here’s how you can help now”
  • “ALERT - Time is running out: here’s why we need your help”
  • “A small donation makes a BIG impact”

Here are the results.


The headline that tested best with our audience was a simple, affirmative statement - “A small donation makes a BIG impact.” 

It’s unsurprising that the highest performing headline was one that didn’t directly solicit money from the recipient. Our email subject was able to plant the idea of donation into our consumer’s head without raising the alarms associated with directly asking them for money. The title inspired our consumers to learn more about our cause, and did not judge them for the amount of money they were able to donate to our cause. 

Improve Your Email Open Rate With Helpfull Feedback

With Helpfull testing, we’ve received real, concrete results that prove the effectiveness of our email subject lines. The advice we’ve been given by an audience of hundreds of real consumers has given us the confidence we need to continue developing bold, effective email titles; titles that will drive our open-rate through the roof.

An intuitive user-interface, coupled with the ability to gather hundreds of consumer responses in just minutes, are just a few of the features that make Helpfull the ultimate tool for any artist, marketer, author, or content creator.

Improve the effectiveness of your marketing - sign up with Helpfull today.

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