Email Subject Lines Are The Gatekeepers Of Email Campaigns
Okay so you have put in hours of effort in getting your email content segmentation – Just Right.
Email content segmentation being the way your email content flows within the email.
Then you’ve put in the extra hours to nail your email images and the content copy ensuring that both are just perfect.
Hey! there is little doubt that you want your emails actually read.
Unfortunately it’s your email subject line that recipients look at in their inboxes.
Many digital marketers specify that you should spend twice the amount of time on your Email Subject Line as you spend on creating your entire email.
That’s a big call…but nailing your Email Subject Line really does pays off.
In this post I’m going to give you five tips you can use immediately to write Email subject line that get your emails opened, read and ultimately converted into paying customers and hopefully your advocates.
1. Be Specific
Generally there are two types of emails businesses send their customers, specific notifications and newsletters.
When it comes to creating an email subject line for either of these types of email content, you have to be crystal clear about what your goal is.
When it comes to specific notification type emails the best approach is to have a subject line that is specific and let customers know exactly what they’re about to open.
This might sound counter-productive but by letting the recipient know why you’re sending them the email and what to expect when they open it, is the very best way to get their attention.
This does not mean your Email Subject line is actually five line paragraph. Since your email is actually targeting a relevant segment of customer, being upfront and honest always gets opens.
Take this example from LinkedIn:
LinkedIn lets you know exactly what the email is about. Reveals a little information to entice you. Then leaves you with a feeling that there is a lot more to learn.
This Email Subject line is effective because:
- It’s upfront
- Gets you excited
- Makes you open the email to read more
Once the recipient has opened the email and begun reading its content then you as email content creator can direct their attention exactly as you desire.
Which is the whole exercise anyway. Mission accomplished.
When you’re going to be sending newsletters or one-off campaigns, generally not triggered by any particular event the subject lines must generally to be original and written to pique curiosity.
Raising curiosity is no mean feat but a general rule of thumb is to ask questions.
A part of their Mother’s Day campaign Kiva subject line used a single question to get into the recipient’s head.
After reading this Email Subject Line recipients wondered:
How good am I at what? – An awesome example of how asking a question can get recipients to open and read body of your email.
2. Localize, Personalize And Target
Almost every newsletter starts of with ‘Hey Ivan did you know . . . ‘ this is pretty standard today.
This does not mean you give up on personalization.
Personalization comes in many forms. Using customer attributes and actions to tailor your subject line AND the email content you’re sending is one of the most powerful things you can do to sky rocket click throughs.
When personalising your subject line, here are a few things you can A/B test.
First and last name: it might be a bit over the top but it’s always worth a try!
Alter the details in the subject line based on the recipient’s location: Summer vs. winter and holidays in different parts of the world (Mother’s Day isn’t the same date in every country)
Gender: Using men vs. women in the subject line of a clothing store’s newsletter or highlighting specific product names for each group are some basic examples.
Use details of the actions the customer has taken: What has the customer been doing on your website? What are their favourite products or what features are they yet to use?
Words That Help Increase The Email Open Rate
Research by Yesware came to a similar conclusion though they found that words like campaign and steps lead to higher open rates for their purposes.
Campaign Monitor studied more than 360,000 e-mail campaigns and found that invitation, introducing, we, and new were among the top performing words in regards to influence on open rates.
The appearance of we, in particular, highlights the importance of personalisation – you/your also factored high in their research.
Cumulatively, what the research suggests is that personalisation, time-sensitivity and highlighting special offers can play a big part in maximising open rates.
Equally important, however, is avoiding those words that don’t work – some of those can truly kill off your email driven marketing campaign before you’ve even begun.
There are numerous words that have the sure shot effect of lowering open rates. In a study conducted by MailChimp, they found that while the word free should be avoided as it can trigger some spam filters.
Three other words were found to have a large negative impact. Those words were help, percent off and reminder.
Yesware found calendar, online and interested reduced open rates while Phrasee highlighted report, webinar and monthly as poor performers.
There’s not a definitive common theme among these, but it does suggest that recipients are more and more attuned to advertising jargon, so much so they’re actively tuning out traditional marketing messaging.
If you’re sending the same email to your subscribers over and over again, you’re open rates are going to progressively decline unless you get creative with your subject lines.
How big of a decline can you expect? As part of MailChimp’s study, which analysed the open rates of over 200 million e-mails, they sent out the same invite several times to measure the progressive impact. In the first send out, the open rate was 8%, for the second, 6.3%, then 5.1% on the third and 3.5% on the fourth.
Repeating the same message over and over is not an effective tactic to increase your email open rate. If you want to remind people of your offer, best to think of new ways to frame it in order to maximise the return value of your email marketing campaign.
3. Build Momentum (i.e. don’t email out of nowhere)
Using an Internet Email service like MailChimp in order to email your site visitors a series of really valuable, informative newsletters is an extremely powerful aspect of any email marketing strategy.
A series of valuable, useful, information packed email newsletters that gradually build and expand on a single topic gets your recipients to know who you are, gives you the opportunity to build momentum and increases your email open rates dramatically.
Using a series of interlinked and informative emails AND flagging this in the Email Subject Line definitely increases your email open and click through rates. This is just great for increasing conversion from leads to paying customers.
Unfortunately, most businesses send less emails than they could for fear of annoying customers.
Spend enough time ensuring your emails are helpful and you won’t have this problem, allowing you to send emails in series that really convert.
4. Test, Test, Test
Everyone and the baker says – Shorter email subject lines increase opens. The truth is, one can never be sure this holds true for your own audience.
MailChimp recently published a bunch of statistics on subject line length. Their findings state there is no hard and fast rule when it comes to subject line length. It’s completely relatively to your target audience so you need to draw your own conclusions.
If you want to really nail the Email Subject Line that works best for email opens then you should start doing A/B testing, in order to determine which Email Subject Line works best.
5. It’s Definitely Not Just About The Subject Line
These days email clients are getting pretty sexy and this means you actually have more than just the email subject line that you can work with to grab your recipient’s attention.
It’s important it is to consider factors outside email subject line length such as word choice AND the order of words in the email subject line as well.
Here’s the standard format of an email as your recipients will see it in Gmail (Gmail being the most commonly found email Id)
As shown in diagram 3, you should not only spend time optimising the email subject line itself but also the from field and the short preview.
Here are three things you should try:
- Put the name of your company in the ‘from’ field: Rather than ‘Ivan Bayross’, I use ‘Ivan from DMTM’. Mentioning the name of your company can be good if your brand is recognisable and is always a great way of building consistency and trust.It keeps your recipients from guessing. Maximize the value you can draw your from email address.
- Move the position of ‘Open in your browser’: Lots of email marketing templates have the ‘View in your browser’ link at the top of the body.This means that it is generally the text that shows up in the ‘short preview’ section of mail clients. Bear this in mind and consider moving the link to the bottom or slightly further down the email body (where it might actually be noticed).Use the ‘short preview’ to your advantage. Cleverly play with the email subject line of the ‘short preview’ to deliver additional value to the recipient.
- Use an H1 tag that has meaning: Never waste ‘headings’ in the body of your email. Make sure you include a H1 tag or bold text at the top of your email content that is relevant. This must give a good idea of what the body of the email contains.