Anyone who has ever sent an email and waited for a reply, click-through or phone call as a result knows that strong subject lines are essential. But how the heck do we determine what’s a great subject line, versus a so-so subject line, or an awful subject line?

Fortunately, some folks at a company called Alchemy Worx who know the importance of subject lines created a new tool called Touchstone to help. Touchstone eliminates the need to do theĀ  split tests that have been the only testing option for years. The beta version (free to sign up for) processes more than 155,000 subject lines from a total of 24.6 billion emails sent. The person who reported on the results (Jeanne Jennings) notes this is the biggest study of its kind.

I know what you’re going to ask – what were the most popular subject lines? Well, according to Jennings, the top 5 words were jokes, promotional, congratulations, revision and forecast, each coming in at an open rate of more than 50% over the average. The worst? Suburbs, decoder, inland, county and wish were the worst five at -38% or worse than the average for open rates.

In terms of “offer” words, “sales” and “buy” did the best in a subject line while “half” and “budget” were the worst. For newsletters, you’ll want to avoid that term and opt instead for bulletin, notice, or releases to get your audience interested enough to open the email.

Please keep in mind this is just a tool, and “the best” subject lines might not resonate with your target market. Test a few options and if you need some help on the creative, drop us a line.