So you’re gearing up to launch an email marketing campaign. It seems so simple, like you shouldn’t have to think twice to be successful. That’s what Joe thought. He had everything: a great product, a strong contact list, and amazing copy for his emails. But he got lazy and suffered from Subject Line Oversight.
At first, it wasn’t serious—just a few boring subject lines here and there. But left untreated, it crept into his marketing and began to spread. His subjects included dollar signs… even question marks and exclamation points! In his desperation to get his marketing messages opened, Joe broke all the rules. Even though he had written funny and insightful messages, they quickly faded into the unopened abyss of Deleted Items.
Don’t make Joe’s mistake. You can recover from Subject Line Oversight and come back stronger than ever. Just follow these steps and you’ll be on your way to a healthier, more effective email campaign.
Step 1: Recognize the Value of Subject Lines
A well-written email is only as strong as its subject line. Think of those words as your only shot at making an impression on your customers. Subscribers sift through hundreds of emails every day and if yours doesn’t entice them to read more, it won’t matter how much time you spent on your campaign; those emails will go straight to the trash.
But consistently engaging subjects? Those will both motivate subscribers to open and build brand loyalty as they look forward to your messages.
Step 2: Keep it Short
Did you know that fewer people are checking their inboxes on desktops? Movable Ink’s U.S. Consumer Device Preference Report shows 68% of emails were opened on a mobile device in 2015. So consider the limited display of cell phones and tablets when drafting novella-sized subject lines. Instead, keep it interesting, informative, and brief.
How brief, you ask? While there will likely always be heated debate over optimal subject line length, Return Path reports that there really isn’t any correlation between length and read rate. Just remember, the quicker you grab their attention, the more time they’ll have to read your email (and spend on your website).
Step 3: Tease Them with the Truth
While your subject line should be concise and intriguing, it should also clue your readers in to the substance of the message. By giving your email subscribers a heads up of what’s inside, you’ve already hooked them; following through on the content only establishes you as a trustworthy sender.
Using misleading subject lines isn’t just illegal under the CAN-SPAM Act, it’s also a surefire way to lose credibility and irritate your customers. And ticking off your patrons is never a good way to increase revenue.
Step 4: Creatively Cater to Your Audience
You’re not sending an email to a blank canvas; you’re sending it to your customers. Use what you already know about them to determine the best way to engage them. Information like age, hobbies, and purchase history can help you glean insight into what makes them tick.
Step 5: Put the Cheese Away
In the internet’s early days, email marketing was riddled with uninspired gimmicks. Phrases like “Click here” and “Open me” begged for action while the misguided use of symbols and emojis fell flat. Sidestep the cheesiness and let the strength of your copy motivate readers to open your messages.
Instead of using “Act now” try “Check out these [product names]” and rather than “Free gift” use “Exclusive offer.”
Step 6: Ask a Question
Want a great way to grab your reader’s attention? Ask a question.
By presenting a thought-provoking inquiry, you’re keeping customers engaged and leading them to your call to action.
Step 7: Stay Active
Your subject line should double as a call to action. Use strong, active words and avoid passive phrases. Adjectives and verbs are your friends; use them to spice up your text and generate an emotional response from your reader. Forget “-ing” words—they slow the message and create weakness.
Step 8: Take the Time to Get it Right
Eye-catching and inspired writing doesn’t always happen on the first try. It evolves over many attempts—much like the copy in your emails. Having trouble? Follow or subscribe to brands you like for inspiration. Did they try something that appealed to you? Use that as an example and find your own voice.
While you should never steal someone else’s copy or ideas, you can use them as a starting point to brainstorm your own concepts. Spend as much time crafting and perfecting your subject lines as you devote to the writing inside. A few extra minutes could mean the difference between an unsubscribe and a sale.
Step 9: Avoid Spam Triggers
Finding the right words to use in your subject line can be tricky, especially when so many get flagged as Spam. Excessive punctuation (particularly exclamation points) and certain trigger words (think “Free,” “Order now,” “Guarantee,” “Discount”) should be avoided to ensure your best chance of delivery. Not sure if your chosen verbiage is off-limits? Cross-reference it against one of the many lists available.
On the Road to Recovery
In time, you won’t even remember that you once asked customers to “Click here.”