Using “Don’t Miss” in Email Marketing: [P] Keyword Performance Analysis

marketing keyword analysis

Turns out, sounding the alarm in someone's inbox isn't the best way to make friends with customers. 

By Nitu Sidhu, Persado Campaign Manager

Don’t miss! Don’t miss it! Don’t miss out! Like crisp, white button-down shirts, don’t miss and its variations are timeless go-tos in every marketers’ toolbox. There’s such a focus on emotionally-driven language, and these phrases seem like they should win — if you frame a product as a scarce resource, such as a high-demand or seasonal item, customers will convert quickly.   

If you are in the promotion business, you probably have used that phrase once or twice. However, if you are reading this article and use this phrase in your copy, we have bad news for you: “Don’t miss” doesn’t work. 

Why?

Let’s break it down. 

At Persado, we track emotions in marketing messages to find the exact words and phrases that inspire action using our unique experimental design method. This allows us to isolate the exact variables that lead to a campaign’s success or failure and leverage those learnings into building more persuasive marketing copy for our clients. It’s far more accurate than the typical A/B test and produces exponentially more insights. 

After testing marketing messages for more than five years, we’ve seen time and time again that “don’t miss,” which evokes the emotion of Guilt, doesn’t score well and can actually cost brands business. Guilt ranks 12th out of Persado's 15 emotions when it comes to open rates and 13th out of 15 in yielding clicks. Most of this data comes from email subject lines, but we have also looked at email bodies, Facebook ads, landing pages, display ads, web banners and push notifications across industries from Finance & Insurance to Fashion & Retail.

3 Reasons Why “Don’t Miss” Performs Poorly

Language Fatigue.
The more times you repeat something, the less effective it becomes. Think about it: When your parents kept nagging you to clean your room, didn’t you tune them out after a while? Same goes for marketing messaging. Try something new!

Positive Imperatives Tend to Perform Better than Negative Imperatives.
We detailed this in a recent blog of ours, Emotional Advertising: Positive vs. Negative Words in Marketing Messages. Using positive emotions generally wins out across industries. 

 Not Personal
A key to good copy is writing as if you are talking to one person and not an audience. “Don’t miss” is stiff and didactic in nature. Think of the last time you messaged a friend the phrase “Don’t miss.” You probably never have.

 
Other Keywords That Perform Better Than “Don’t Miss”

Here are some real-life tests that we performed where we received “Don’t Miss” from a client and the results that followed: 

Case Point #1 - “Don’t Miss” Tested as an Attention-Grabbing Intro Statement
A client from the Retail & ECommerce industry provided us the following control statement in an April 2018 campaign: 
Control: “Don't Miss Out: [Redacted] are Here!”

Using our experimental design approach, we were able to test three other values against “Don’t Miss Out” as the attention-grabbing intro statement: Please Open (Curiosity), Thank Us Later (Intimacy) and 100% Serious (Safety). 

Each one of those values beat out “Don’t Miss Out” when it came to clicks and opens with more than a 99.9% probability. If we had just simply exchanged “Don’t Miss Out” with the best phrase in this test, Please Open, we would’ve seen a 12% open uplift and a 23% click uplift.

Case Point #2 - “Don’t Miss” When Framed With the Offer
We received this control from a client in the Hotel industry in April 2018: 
Control: Action Required: Don't Miss Out on Earning Bonus Points
We tested “Don't Miss Out on Earning” against “Let Us Thank You With an Opportunity to Earn” (Gratitude), “You've Landed an Opportunity to Earn” (Achievement) and “We're Giving You an Opportunity to Earn” (Gratification). 

The subject line with “Don’t miss” lost out against all three of the other values in opens and clicks. If the client had gone with the winning value, “You’ve Landed an Opportunity to Earn,” they would’ve seen an open uplift of 15.38% and a click uplift of 11.67%.

Case Point #3 - Synonyms to “Don’t Miss”
And here’s the most damning of all. Because you may be thinking okay, I’ll just avoid mentioning ANY negative imperative at all, but that isn’t the problem, it’s the term “Don’t miss” that’s the problem. Here’s another campaign from the Retail & ECommerce industry, this time in May 2018. 
Control: “Don't miss it❗ Your EXCLUSIVE XX% off + $0 shipping offer ENDS TODAY”

This time we tested “Don’t miss it” against “Last call” (Urgency), “Open soon” (Urgency) and a subject line without emotional language. 

“Don’t miss it” once again lost against all three (“Open soon” was the winner). If the client had just sent out their control message to their whole email list, they would’ve lost out on an extra 8% boost on open rates, and, wait for it... an extra 74% boost on click-throughs!

Don’t beat yourself up for all of the times that you have used “don’t miss” in your marketing campaigns — be thankful that you now know the truth! If you are interested in finding out exactly which marketing words and phrases resonate the most with your subscribers, please fill out the form below and we’d be happy to give you a free demo of our product. 

Natalie Sacks, Leah Jarrett and Aya Rashad assisted with the research for this post.