Tips and Hints
Ten tips for a clickable subject line.
Apart from sender identity, the subject line is the only indication of the content and interest value of a received E-mail. Since most E-mail recipients will be presented on a daily basis with a long list of received E-mails; routine communications yes, but also a sizable proportion of Email Marketing messages – both solicited via an opt-in and unsolicited, the construction of the subject line is critical to a successful email marketing campaign. The subject line is the ‘invitation to open’; the only opportunity the email marketing campaigner has to persuade the recipient to click ‘open’ and not ‘delete’.
Developing an attractive subject line is critical to a successful email marketing campaign; it must not be an afterthought. It must intrigue, interest or even mystify to the extent that the recipient is persuaded to look further. Statistics show that open rates of identical emails will triple or quadruple with a change to the subject line.
So here are our top ten tips for a subject line to achieve the magic ‘open me’ response from the recipient. Remember the key objectives; intrigue, interest, mystify.
1. Define the objective of the email and define the type of the addressee list .
Broadly speaking, the message may either be a broad marketing message aimed at an address list developed (via opt-in) from contacts etc, or it is an informing message aimed at a closed list – club members for example being sent a monthly E-magazine. If the latter, then skip tips 2 to 8.
2. Avoid overtly ‘salesy’ words and phrases.
Avoid words/phrases like special offer, one-off price, not to be missed etc.
3. Questions can be very effective.
Asking an intelligent question may intrigue or mystify. Try to engage the recipient’s natural inquisitiveness.
4. Use a longer phrase. This will stand out when the morning inbox list is scanned.
This is one case where brief is not best. Filling the line with subject words will physically extend beyond most routine email subject lines. The benefit here is purely the visual presentation in the inbox list of course.
5. Try an ‘off the wall’ angle.
The subject line is there to prompt the recipient to click, the message is contained in the body of the email and it is not necessarily beneficial to use a subject line that pre-empts or introduces the message. Consider something entirely unrelated at first sight.
6. Quirky works.
Similar point to 5 above but searching for a phrase that intrigues by being odd or quirky often works well.
There is an apocryphal story of a company that engaged a PR agency to produce a marketing broadsheet for an email marketing campaign. The agency sent back the completed email graphic with the words ‘enter your subject line here’ in the subject box. Needless to say, the email went out to the quarter of a million addressees with that subject unchanged and (yes you’ve guessed it) the open rate tripled.
A similar ‘true’ story has it that the IT department of a well-known high street bank constructed an investment advertisement bulk email to be sent to the banks wealthiest clients. The wags in the IT department had a working subject line;
“Dear rich b*****d looking for a money making scam?”
which, of course, was inadvertently transmitted uncorrected. The IT wags got fired, the open rate quadrupled.
7. Look for a relevant ‘newsy’ angle.
Continuing the theme of intrigue, interest, mystify. Try relating the subject line to a current news angle. Did you know that recent statistics show that silver cars have highest resale value? Introducing a general car sales advertisement -we offer cars in all colours including silver.
8. Experiment with subject lines.
Try different subject lines, perhaps at the same time. If you’re sending out 60,000 emails, try splitting it into three batches of 20,000 with three completely different subject lines – quirky, question, off the wall, and analyse the results. A good analytics service will show you the received, open and scanned rates from which you can hone the techniques relevant to your market. When you’ve found the nail keep hitting it.
9. Use your brand name if it is likely to add to the gravity or relevance of the email.
If your’s is a respected or indeed expected sender name then use it in the subject line to maximise the likelihood of an open click. If you are Rolls-Royce or (dare we say) HMRC, you may consider that recipients are likely to open an email from you.
Of course, we are now all increasingly plagued by spam emails that illegally use this as a trick and, unfortunately, we may be reaching a tipping point where any email that purports to be from HMRC, Barclays Bank etc will automatically have recipients reaching for the spam button without opening. In which case, revert to tips 2 to 8.
10. If you are sending an anticipated message to a receptive email addressee list then it is a good idea to specifically refer to the content of the email message.
The only time to be specific as to the content is if your recipients are likely to be expecting a message from you. Eg, if you’re a club, charity or similar sending a monthly magazine or details of a forthcoming event, this can have this identified in the subject line.
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