CHICAGO: Marketers persist in sending consumers themed emails around events like Independence Day despite evidence that open rates for such campaigns are lower than non-themed ones sent during the same period.

Yes Lifecycle Marketing, a cross-channel marketing and analytics solutions provider and Persado, a cognitive content generation platform, teamed up to analyse almost 18,000 email campaigns sent through the former's platform during the 15 days prior to the Fourth of July in 2013, 2014 and 2015, with Persado ranking every email subject line by emotion and response rate.

They found that the number of emails marketers deployed related to the Fourth grew 36% between 2013 and 2014, and by 12% the following year.

But over the three years these achieved an average open rate of 9.3%, less than the 10.6% recorded for non-Independence Day-themed subject lines.

And appeals to emotion, which might be thought to be an important part of any messaging around that date, performed marginally worse than those emails whose subject line was more neutral, with an open rate of 9.25% against 9.57%.

"Prior research into the millions of cognitive content messages that Persado generated has shown that emotion drives as much as 60% of consumer action," said Michael Fisher, president of Yes Lifecycle Marketing.

"The softer performance of Fourth of July subject lines with emotional language serves to illustrate just how challenging it can be to identify the emotions that will inspire a given audience to act, especially when moods can shift every year, every day, or every second."

That said, 'encouragement' was a top-performer over all three years, while 'curiosity', 'excitement' and 'gratification' returned the lowest open rates.

Lawrence Whittle, CRO of Persado, added that "The only way to know for sure is to always test different emotions on your audiences before fully deploying, to properly determine real-time consumer sentiment".

Data sourced from Yesmail; additional content by Warc staff