If your subject lines don’t identify your business and explain what the email is about, or if they sound too ‘spammy’ then your readers won’t open them and your campaign won’t generate the results you want. This article outlines how to write an effective subject line.
Once you have written all the content within your email, it’s all done and ready to be sent out, right? Wrong! You’ve forgotten the subject line, one of the most crucial factors in email marketing success.
The subject line is what appears alongside your name (the sender) in your recipient’s email inbox and identifies what your email is about. Writing subject lines is particularly difficult because you are limited to around 50 characters because this is all that is displayed by your recipient’s email program. This means you need to keep it short and sharp and make the most of every single character you have. It also means that you may not be able to mention everything in the subject line that is covered in the email. Therefore, you need to be like a journalist when they write headlines – choose the most newsworthy angle and focus on that in your subject line. Writing an effective subject line is a very important aspect of email marketing.
Here are some tips for writing your subject line:
Make it informative – as mentioned, the subject line needs to immediately tell the reader what the email is about so they can make the decision to open it or not. If your subject line doesn’t contain enough detail, the recipient will probably delete it, or worse, mark it as spam. Remember, all consumers view emails from a WIIFM (‘What’s In It for Me’) perspective and will only open an email from you if the subject line indicates they will get something out of reading it. Many experts now also recommend including the name of the newsletter or mailing list in square brackets at the start of the subject line so the recipient can immediately recognise the email as something they have signed up for. For example: [Bloomnews] Subject Line Tips, Discount Offer. This example includes the name of the newsletter and also two important features of the email that will attract attention.
Don’t be misleading – the quickest way to lose a customer is to lie to them. This rules applies to email subscribers too – if your subject lines are misleading and the reader doesn’t get what they were expecting from your email, they will simply unsubscribe from your mailing list. So don’t promise things in the subject line that the email doesn’t deliver on. For example, the subject line “Free shipping on all items this week” will probably send your open rate through the roof, but if the contents of your email explain that free shipping is only for orders over $500, only to selected regions and only for the second item purchased, your readers won’t be impressed. It will more than likely damage their opinion and trust of your brand or encourage them to mark your emails as spam, preventing any future communications from you.
Create interest – while it’s important that your subject lines are informative, it also needs to grab the attention of the recipient and make them want to open your email. Your campaigns will be competing with dozens of other emails in your recipient’s inbox, so your subject line needs to be intriguing so you stand out from the crowd. To create interest, your subject line needs to have a hook that will stimulate the recipient’s brain and make them open the email. Some great hooks include humour, making money, saving money, benefits and fear – all of these things appeal to people in different ways and can make them curious enough to open your email
Work with the sender line – when sending emails, many business people only focus on the subject line because it is one of the most talked about parts of the email. However, they should also be thinking about the sender line and ways to integrate it with the subject line for better results. The recipient will look at both lines to determine what the email is about and if the sender can be trusted. The sender line should contain something that identifies your business – such as the company name as the sender or the name of a person from the organisation combined with the company name. Maximising the sender line also has the added benefit of giving you the full length of the subject line to focus on grabbing the recipient’s attention.
Test, test, test – there is every chance that a small change to your subject line could significantly increase the open rate for your emails, but you will never know this unless you conduct testing. For some businesses with small lists or basic software, testing may not be possible, but if it is then you should definitely be doing it. The easiest way to test subject lines is to segment your audience into groups and send the same email with different subject lines to each group to see which line gets the best open rate. Then use a similar type of subject line for your next campaign and so on, with a new test every few months.
Follow these tips and you will soon be writing effective, attention grabbing subject lines that send your open rate through the roof!