Your email subject line is an invitation, a front door, a salesperson, an ambassador. It’s important, to say the least. 47% of people say they open an email because of the subject line (Chadwick Martin Bailey).
Here are 10 ½ tips to make your subject line Don Draper not Al Bundy, caviar not tofu – in a word: better.
1. Test for bad words: Over 35% of email is blocked as spam due to subject lines that contain certain trigger words. There are lots of ways to test against spam triggers. SpamAssassin (used by EmailSpamTest) is a good place to start. Check lists of spam words from Mequoda and MarketingTech Blog.
2. Keep it short and sweet: The average email client only displays 38 to 47 characters in a subject line, and your beloved subscriber has a short attention span. Front-loading your subject line is key, as mobile devices are less forgiving with character limits.
3. Use content that resonates: Content-related subject lines and words that resonate with your audience work better than general subject lines. You may be sitting on rich data that could help you figure out what interests your audience. Use Google Analytics (or other analytics tools) to assess what content (pages and keywords) website visitors were most interested in. These are the topics that resonate with your audience — and a good place to start with your subject line.
4. Scintillate, don’t summarize: No-one is longing to read your email that bears the subject line “July Newsletter.” Something like “How we made $ 1 million in July” will generate many more opens. Teasers and questions work well, such as these (from a recent Mequoda column):
- Are organic foods worth the extra cost?
- Why 95% of traders lose money in the stock market
5. Focus on the User: Your email subscribers want to know what’s in it for them. Focus on a benefit to the reader of the email. Not surprisingly, the words “you,” “your” and “secrets” boost open rates more than “free” or “special.” Experian’s 2013 Email Market Study finds that personalized emails of all stripes get higher open rates. Do personalized subject lines boost open rates? Some say yes, some say no, but, at the end of the day, it depends on the type of message.
According to this article in Email Marketing Reports. Some examples of user-benefit focus:
- Boost ROI Tenfold with Segmentation
- Your Input, Please: Annual Customer Satisfaction Survey
- Look Your Best – On Us
6. Don’t be generic: Details and specifics will intrigue your readers. As an example, favoring specificity, USA Today goes with “Obama’s phone calls show urgency of world crises” over “Top news from July 29th”.
7. Don’t be repetitive: Even if last month’s newsletter had a killer subject line, chances are you’re better off not repeating it. New is good.
7 ½. Don’t be repetitive: See what I mean? Are you even reading this sentence?
8. Find the controversy or intrigue: Give people a reason to open that email by focusing on something memorable, shocking, intriguing or just plain outrageous (unless you are, say, the White House or a health insurer). For example:
- 10 reasons why the stock market will collapse in 2016
- Introducing the 4-Hour Work week
9. Make sure the rest of the email is awesome: As Copyblogger puts it, “There’s something special in this jaded digital age about being invited into someone’s email inbox.” Don’t take that invitation for granted. Your subject line is only as good as the email that follows it.
10. Never stop testing and thinking: Do A/B testing, look at what competitors are doing, look at open rates and other metrics, bottom line results, read relevant blog posts and studies, and keep a log of subject lines you like. “Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow…”
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