Email Subject Lines: Lost Art or Simple Science
Email is an effective means of communication with your customers, and one that – when managed appropriately – can help bring cost efficient and effective results. But there’s one element we don’t generally spend a lot of time on – and that’s the Subject Line.
The Subject Line is the introduction to your email that appears in the in-box of your email recipient, and – much like a billboard as you’re cruising down the highway – has about a 3 second chance of convincing the recipient to take action – specifically to Open the Email.
It’s worth paying attention to. Subject Lines represent one of those often-ignored marketing levers that can greatly influence ROI. We all do it: spend time, money and effort in the planning, designing, and manipulating of the body of an email marketing release, and then casually throw a Subject Line up during testing – the point when we’re reminded we need to add it.
In reality, your Subject Line can be as impactful as the body of the email. It’s important that you put some time and thought into the development of the Subject Line. Case in point:
- Use specific spam-filter unfriendly words and your message won’t be delivered.
- Use exclamation points and excessive capitalizations and your message will be ignored as spam, or even caught by spam-filters before it’s delivered.
- Use a Subject Line that has nothing to do with the content of your email – and risk confusing your audience – or worse yet, leaving them feeling deceived.
- Use a Subject Line that’s irrelevant or flat, and your message is ignored.
On the flip side, when used effectively, Subject Lines can have great impact on driving Open Rates up – your primary objective when setting a Subject Line. Some techniques to think about when setting yours:
- Be Direct – Tell your recipient what you want them to act on.
- Connect the Subject Line with the promotional messaging in the body of your email.
- Avoid capital letters (no SCREAMING!).
- Avoid excessive exclamations or punctuations.
- Keep number of words limited: Let your recipient see the full Subject Line in their in-box.
- It’s not mandatory that you include your brand name in the Subject Line. Consider and use appropriately.
Some examples that I’ve received recently which represent the above strategies:
- Great for Giving: Monogrammed Gifts (William-Sonoma)
- Last Chance – Only One Day Left to Save (Cellar 360)
- Gift Ideas for Wine Lovers (In Wine Country)
- 15% Off Personalized Wine Gifts – 4 Days Only (Windsor Vineyards)
- Just Arrived: Perfect Holiday White, 91 WS under 11 bucks (Wine Library)
- Free Shipping. Brilliant Gifts. (Crate and Barrel)
- Thoughtful Gifts for Everyone on Your List (Room & Board)
There are plenty of examples of what NOT to do. In the interest of protecting the innocent, I’ll leave it to you to scan your own in-box and see what catches your eye. In the end, Subject Line development isn’t an art. It’s an easy – and necessary – consideration point in your Email Marketing strategy.
For some additional thoughts on this subject: