The Fine Art Of Email Subject Lines


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Email marketing has become one of the top ways that companies use to reach their customers. This is a good thing, because it is cost effective; however it’s also bad, because everyone is doing it. With so many people trying to reach the same groups of people in the same way, how do you make sure that your email gets opened and read?

It’s a fine art, writing subject lines that encourage people to open your email. Let’s explore what you can do to be the Rembrandt in your market.

Strategies To Get It Open

The first thing people see when you email them is the subject line, so if it doesn’t move them to open it immediately, then the likelihood of it getting opened decreases sustainably. To make your emails more inviting, Chris Hexton of Unbounce recommends trying these things:

Be Specific About Your Goal. Your emails to your customers are likely one of two things: a newsletter or a promotion. Use your subject line to let your customers know which one it is upfront before they open it. While this may sound counter-productive, getting to the point in the subject line will actually help you increase your open rates.

Personalize and Target. Personalization comes in many forms and does not just have to be “Hey, Bob.” Using customer attributes or actions are great ways to make your subject lines more personal and more likely to get opened.

Test, Test, & Test Some More. Do some testing of your subject lines. Send the same email with two different subject lines to different groups of customers and check the open rates. You will want to do this quite a few times to help find your sweet spot for subject lines. Some things you can try: Short, long, with funny characters, first letter capitalization, etc.

It’s Not Only Your Subject Line. I know this is an article about subject lines, but there really is more to open rates than subject lines. Most email inboxes show more than the subject line; your customers also see who the email is from and, often times, a brief preview. Try changing the “from line” to your company name instead of your name. This not only helps your customers know exactly who is emailing them, but it helps with brand recognition. Also try moving your “Open in browser” link, so that doesn’t pull in the preview.

Things To Avoid

So, now you have a strategy in place and are ready to go, but there are a few things you still want to avoid.

ALL CAPS — It’s pretty well known that all capital letters denotes yelling our shouting in emails. The last thing you want to do is have your customers think you are screaming at them. All caps also sends up red flags that the email is SPAM to your tech savvy customers.

The words ‘confirm’, ‘join’ or ‘assistance’ — A study by Baydin found that there are seven words that when used in subject lines, make your email less likely to be opened. They are: confirm; join; assistance; speaker; press; social; and invite.

Too Many Characters — Avoiding long subject lines will increase your open rates. You should try to keep subject to 30 characters or less, according to a study by Mailer Mailer, so they don’t get cut off by the screen or mobile devices.

Exclamation Marks!!! — One exclamation mark is fine, but when you start putting 2 or more your emails start to look like SPAM. So, use exclamation marks sparingly in your subject lines.

Trickery — No one likes to be tricked, and this includes your customers. A study by Adestra found that customers do not like when marketers add RE: or FWD: to subject lines to make them look like they came from someone they know. And customers are much smarter than that any way, the same study found that click rates were 47.5% and 42.6% lower than average when marketers used that tactic.

Doing these things should help increase your email open rates, but remember that it will take a little time, especially while you are working on strategy number 3. If after you get your open rates increased, you are still not getting the results you want from your email marketing, you might want to take a look at your content… but that is a whole other article.


Posted In: ACCA Now, Sales & Marketing, Technology

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