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The Top 3 Takeaways From Our Sales Email Benchmark Report

Improve the performance of your campaigns with key takeaways from our most recent analysis. For even more insights, check out regie’s full Sales Email Benchmark Report.
Rocco Savage
Head of Growth

While best practices aren’t guarantees, every sales team can give their email campaigns a competitive edge by staying aware of current sales email trends and available sales email data. Like checking the weather or reading the news- you don’t have to do anything with the information, but just being aware can help you make better decisions going forward. 

So let’s get into the takeaways that can help improve your email strategy. Straight from our updated Sales Email Benchmark Report and the 34,723,244 sales emails we analyzed, we’re breaking down the top three findings we want our readers to be aware of.  

Tip: For a more in-depth look at our analysis that includes information like 25 high-performing subject line examples, check out the full Sales Email Benchmark Report here

Takeaway #1: The stacking effect is crucial

If you can’t maintain your follow-ups, the stacking effect is broken. 

Too often, sellers use the scalability advantage of an SEP like Outreach or Salesloft but can’t keep up with the numbers. It’s easy to send 100 emails to new prospects, but it’s much more difficult to capture any single person’s attention. Tasks build up then become overdue, and as a result, critical touchpoints are missed. The ideal timing and pace for engaging prospects are disrupted. 

But does the stacking effect actually work? Regie’s deep sequence analysis and email insights have the answer. Take a look at this chart- it shows sequence performance by step number for every regie-built campaign. 


The data depict steady engagement throughout a sequence. After the first email, the trend line for engagement is nearly flat. In other words, prospects tend to engage all the way through a sequence, meaning the stacking effect works in the seller’s favor. 

Sellers should avoid overdue task pile up because it mitigates the success of sequences. The stacking effect is about staying persistent and consistent throughout a sequence, which is now more critical than ever.  

Takeaway #2: Keep it short

What do wait times, commutes and subject lines have in common? They’re all better when they’re short. 

In our analysis, emails with three and five word subject lines averaged a 35% open rate. Compare that to the overall average of 20%, and the significance starts to sink in. 

We see the same preference for brevity when we look at body copy word count. The data show the highest reply rate at 16 words with 9%. From there, we see 24 words at 7.9% and 31 words at 7.5%. After 53 words, reply rates stay below 6%. 

However, prior to reaching the 53-word limit, reply rate averages fluctuate frequently. Once again we’re seeing indications that brevity is important, but we’re also seeing that word count isn’t everything. Keep reading to find out what is. 

Takeaway #3: Don’t assume word count is more important than the words themselves

Strictly considering length, the data clearly favor shorter subject lines. After six words, we see open rates drop. But as an overall rule, this logic doesn’t hold. The data indicate that subject line word count should be limited to a certain value (we recommend stopping at six words) but within the one to six-word range, the exact number is less important.

We can be sure of this by looking at the data from two different perspectives. The first is through comparing the average for shorter and longer word counts. A five-word subject line is longer than a two-word subject line, yet five-word subject lines perform better in the analysis. 

And this “exception” to the rule is prevalent in the data. The average open rate for two-word subject lines isn’t higher than three words, the four-word average isn’t higher than five’s, and even the nine-word average isn’t higher than ten’s. This is one indicator that word choice carries more weight than word count.

The other is that from one to six-word subject lines, there is frequent variance. Instead of conservative fluctuations, we’re seeing sporadic rise and fall from point to point, even among the shortest word counts in the sample. If open rate averages can jump 11% from two words to three words, then descend 13% from three words to four words, we can still reasonably conclude that subject line length is not the end-all.

In summary, without a stark contrast between values like six and three, or consistency among the lowest values like three and four, we can assume that what matters most isn’t how many words you’re using, but which words you’re using. 

Don’t believe us? Consider these example subject lines to see what we mean.

  • Your Job vs. Inbound Growth - The subject line “Your Job” is in fact two words, but so is “Inbound Growth.” Solely considering word count in this comparison ignores the fact that one subject line is significantly better than the other. “Your Job” is about as vague as a subject line can be. No one would ever use it. But if you’re only looking at word count, you’d assume that a message with this subject line will be opened 24% of the time. 
  • How To Do Your Job vs. Regie’s Current Inbound Growth Tools - Again, the word count is the same but the quality is not. “How To Do Your Job” is vague and random. It could be sent to anyone with a job and is in no way compelling. What reason does a buyer have to click? Its counterpart, “Regie’s Current Inbound Growth Tools” is not only specific, it ties in an element of personalization by naming the company of its recipient. Someone at regie assessing their tools for inbound growth will click on this email. 
  • Start Doing Your Job Better Now vs. Sam- Question About Regie’s Supported Integrations- The inadequate option, “Start Doing Your Job Better Now” is unhelpful and unintriguing. But “Sam- Question About Regie’s Supported Integrations” is a great use of space. It demonstrates what a personalized subject line can look like by including the recipient’s name and company, and by directly referencing an aspect of their work. 

Bonus Takeaway: Sellers should stay aware of trends (even if it’s to avoid them)

It’s important to understand that although many prevailing trends begin as logical responses to the environment, trends are cyclical in nature. What worked once will eventually be left behind, only to be reclaimed months or years later. 

For example, in a similar regie analysis conducted just five months ago, 2-word subject lines were the highest performers. Was this preference born from the trend of checking email on the much smaller screens of mobile devices? Potentially. And even though it remains true that around 50% of email users check their messages via mobile device, 5-word subject lines outperformed 2-word subject lines in our most recent study. 

This decline in the effectiveness of 2-word subject lines may be because of oversaturation. In other words, too many emails with 2-word subject lines have been mass-emailed, and buyers, fed up, have learned to start ignoring them. 

Never stagnant for long, you can always expect to see natural shifts in trends and best practices. This is why it’s important that every seller decides when it’s best to abide by what’s in vogue but also when it’s best to go rogue. 

What should you take away?

In summary, data should be explored. It cuts through the apparent randomness of human preference and the selling environment, as well as increases the scale of your observation. But it should also be explored from different angles and through different lenses. Zoom in and you’ll gain insights into more technical applications like utilizing the stacking effect or keeping word count below 60. Zoom out and you’ll ponder more conceptual ideas like trend cycles or word choice. All of which makes for a more comprehensive (and resourceful) approach to selling.  

Don’t forget to check out our full Sales Email Benchmark Report, where you’ll find even more insights.  

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