A little gratitude can take you a long way with email

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While it may seem a bit hokey, there's value in directing a little gratitude to consumers every now and then, especially in a personal channel like email marketing. A recent study conducted by Cheetah Digital found that email subject lines that express gratitude in some way tend to outperform those that do not; this is an important finding that – if brands use it correctly – can really bring a bounce to click and open rates. At Site Impact, we're always looking for new ways to give our clients an edge, and improve campaign performance – so understanding this finding will make a big difference.

The research team at Cheetah Digital found that subject lines with terms such as "with heartfelt thanks," and even just "thank you!" had average unique open and click rates that were 69% and 39% higher – respectively – than those campaigns that omitted the grateful language in the subject lines. There are some compelling potential reasons that may contribute to this effect, but most importantly, the boost in engagement happened across three different email types: surveys, post-purchase emails and segmented buyer promotions.

One of the reasons that may contribute to this engagement boost comes down to a fairly well-documented effect in psychology. Research has shown that by having a person do a small favor – and by making sure to thank them for the favor, no matter how small – people are able to forge a much stronger connection, and create a much more favorable impression than they would otherwise, on an individual level. Just the act of doing something for which a person – or, in this case, a brand – is grateful makes a person feel generous, which in turn makes them like the entity they've done that favor for.

Another factor, of course, is even more basic: people enjoy being recognized for their efforts, no matter how great or how small. Just the act of thanking consumers for their help in gaining insight, or for their purchase, makes them feel individually connected, individually important to the brand. As any good businessman can tell you: sales ultimately comes down to relationships. Maintaining relationships with consumers includes occasionally providing a personal touch – even one that can be done via automated programs. By thanking recipients front and center in the subject line, you can create an impression that resonates throughout an otherwise unexceptional email.

Of course it's important not to abuse this finding, or to try and game the system with it. Just throwing in a "thank you!" or other statement of gratitude without any context or real need for it isn't going to have the same impact and can even come across as fake – which will have the opposite effect of what you want for your brand. If you do decide to incorporate thank-yous to your recipients, make sure that you do so in an appropriate way. Expressing gratitude to your recipients for their help in a consistent, but somewhat sparing way, can be a great tool for increasing engagement and driving satisfaction. Contact Site Impact to find out how we can help you put this and other strong tools to their best possible uses.

Erin Jacobs is marketing manager for Site Impact, which specializes in private label email marketing services. You can reach her at Erin.Jacobs@siteimpact.com or (954) 982-7900, ext. 333.

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