Go Upgrade Your Content with Just 5 Wonderful Words

Want better email open rates? We thought you might.

A new study from Alchemy Worx found the top 5 performing words to include in an email subject line. These words may not work for every industry, but they performed consistently well across a variety of industries.

  • “Upgrade” can yield a 65 percent higher open rate than the average email open rate.
  • “Just” can yield a 64 percent higher open rate.
  • “Content” can increase email opens by 59 percent.
  • “Go” and “wonderful” can increase email opens by 55 percent.

We recommend using just one or two of these words in an email subject line. For instance, try pairing “go” and “upgrade” if your brand offers technology and software solutions, or “just” and “wonderful” if your brand sells helpful products.

Using too many of these “power words” can lessen the impact of each keyword. It may also resemble other spammy practices that will make email service providers and applications ignore or penalize your email messages in the inbox.

The following words performed the worst in email subject lines:

  • “Miss” can decrease email opens by 4.6 percent.
  • “Deals!” can cause a 4.38 percent decrease in open rates.
  • “Groovy” can cause a 4.26 percent decrease in open rates.
  • “Conditions” can decrease email opens by 4.04 percent.
  • “Friday!” can cause a 4 percent decrease in open rates.

These words aren’t necessarily bad. Maybe they’re suffering from overuse by excited email marketers (note the “!” in two of them).

If you can justify using one of these words because no better alternative exists for the message you’re trying to convey, don’t sweat it. Thankfully, their negative effect on email subject lines is substantially smaller than the positive effect of the “power words.”

To put these open rates into further context: A report from Epsilon recently released found that email open rates in general for North America have increased 6.5 percent since 2013. However, .5 percent fewer links within emails are clicked.

So don’t forget, once you get your readers to open your email, you also need great content compelling them to click-through and engage with your brand.


No word is guaranteed to increase your email open rates. However, certain action words like “go” or “upgrade” and other “power words” can drive consumers to open that email.

A little goes a long way, so don’t overload your subject line with keywords. Also, some words don’t work as well for email subject lines. If you must use them, have a strategic purpose. Finally, no matter how great that subject line is, make sure the content inside the email message is compelling enough to get people to click.

Need help crafting that compelling content? Check out our posts on how to create better content and the three best content strategies.

Or, skip to the good stuff and check out our email newsletter service that offers content written by IMN experts!

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