Have you ever looked at emails as a marketing channel that belongs to the past?
You may need to change your mind: email marketing is alive, well, and expanding. We send 182 billion emails on an average day (source) and we’ll probably send slightly more in the near future.
As inboxes get more and more crowded, though, you need to figure out the most efficient way to reach your goals. When it comes to email marketing, what’s the main issue between you and your goals?
Your emails must be opened.
This is a bottleneck you have here - any different outcome means missing your goal. Much have been written about how to set up your emails to maximize the opportunity to have them opened. The most time is usually spent crafting the subject of your emails.
Here are some tips about it.
Personalization is not only a name
If you let people subscribe in the right way, you can include the recipient’s name in the subject. Most email marketing tools allow you to do so. Since this is a very common technique, your open rates may not vary that much.
You can also customize this further, according to the specific needs of small groups of subscribers. For this to work, you’ll first need to segment your email list into groups that are based on similar topics.
Moreover, what about localization? If you can be specific about a geographic area, do it. Usually, the more specific you are, the better the results.
Avoid cold emails as much as possible
If you don’t keep in touch with your contacts for a long time, they won’t remember who you are, what you do and why they signed up in the first place.
This example here from this post is quite meaningful I think.
A quick recap of what you do can also be helpful if you’re cold emailing people. When readers remember your name or know what they’re going to receive, they’re more likely to open.
Variation VS. consistency
If your subject is something like “Newsletter #47 - July 2014” - I see your problem here. It’s good to give continuity and consistency to your communication, but each new email should provide a clear indication of what is inside.
These 4U will help you
As simple as that. The headline is the teaser of your content, so it should be meaningful while not revealing everything. What is the press release about? Why is this important for the reader? If you don’t give your readers a reason to click, why should they?
This can be summarized with the 4U approach: make it Useful and Unique, provide a sense of Urgency, be Ultra-specific.
One rule for all occasions
If there’s one only magic rule that will help you crafting the prefect subject line, here it is: just describe the subject of your email. Give the reader a reason to explore your message further. The Golden Rule is:
Tell what’s inside, don’t sell what’s inside.
Some words to Avoid
According to an extensive study by Mailchimp over 200 million emails, three words usually have a very negative impact on your results. Not because they trigger spam filters, but because people will be way less likely to open your email.
They are: Help, Percent off, and Reminder. Also, avoid extensive capitalization and exclamation marks. AT ALL COSTS!!!
Is length still a big deal?
The length of subject lines is one of the most debated issues. We believe many different factors can influence such results, and therefore length itself can’t tell us much.
If you want to dig further into data about the length of subject lines, you can find a goldmine here.
What President Obama can teach us
Obama’s email campaigns experimented a lot with subject lines. The main goal was usually to raise funds for political purposes, and it was clear that a casual tone was getting the best results. You can read about his best subject lines here - my personal favorite is still “Hey”.
Try, measure, repeat
Remember your mailing list is yours only. All the suggestions in the world can’t replace the advice you get from your past results. Did you run experiments on your subject lines already? Do it as soon as possible. Check how you list of contacts reacts. Change your plans accordingly. Repeat.
As in real life, use common sense and don’t do anything your mom wouldn’t approve. Well, your mom doesn’t need to know everything ;)
Subject Line Comparison, on Mailchimp
The perfect email, on Vero
Email opening infographic, on PR Daily