Jul 29 2013

Four Ways to Write Better Subject Lines

AnnexCore

Subject lines can make or break an e-mail marketing campaign. After all, the first thing your subscribers are probably going to read is that subject. A bad subject can wind up convincing them to press delete, or worse, unsubscribing from your list. When writing the subjects for your e-mails, you have to remember that the people receiving these e-mails deal with marketing and advertising day in and day out. They have learned to recognize corporate double-speak and marketing tactics, and if your subject sounds inorganic, forced, or misleading, your opens and click-through numbers are going to plummet. Before you plan out your next e-mail marketing campaign, remember these four things.

1. Avoid Cheap Gimmicks

Have you ever seen e-mails with subjects like ‘One lucky subscriber will win a cup!,’ or ‘Open now for a free consultation!’? A lot of marketing firms use these gimmicks to increase reads and click-throughs, but they wind up alienating a fairly large base of their subscribers with these types of tactics. Subjects like the ones above also sound like spam, which could land your e-mails right into the spam folder, never to see the light of day. Don’t promise free giveaways, don’t write your subject in all caps, and don’t overdo it with the exclamation marks.

2. Incite Action

Verbs are an e-mail marketer’s best friend. You want to convince your subscribers to become involved with whatever you are plugging, and the right verbs can help you do that. A subject like ‘Watch Our Newest YouTube Video’, for example, is much more actionable than ‘New YouTube Video.’ It directly involves the reader, leads them to something you’d like them to do, and helps inform them of what the e-mail actually contains – heck, ‘New YouTube Video’ could be a video you found of a kitten doing something funny. Unless you are writing an inner-company memo, a subject should not be a basic, simple describer of the e-mail’s contents. Involve your readers in the campaign, and that campaign will be much more effective.

3. Personalize

As your subscriber list grows, you’ll need to begin grouping them in different categories. How did they get on the list? What did they buy, if anything? What different demographics do they belong to, and should you use those demographics to create separate messages? Start simple and ease your way into a more complex system. And, when you do have segmented subscriber lists, make sure to take advantage of that segmentation and tailor your subject to each particular list. What could they, more than any other type of person, be looking for from your company? Answer that question, and base your subjects on that answer, and you’ll quickly a rise in engagement.

4. Get to the Point!

Finally, remember that, when it comes to subject lines, space is a precious resource. You really don’t have a lot of room to work in, so you need to keep things simple and brief. Brevity is especially important because of how people typically approach their inboxes – instead of reading every, single message and subject in an inbox, most people just quickly scan through the new messages and delete anything that doesn’t look interesting, or took too long to digest. If the subject is too short, it won’t entice people to open the e-mail, and if it is too long, people just won’t bother. A good rule of thumb is to aim for around 50 characters or so. That’s typically enough space to include everything you need to, without crowding the inbox.

Subjects are extremely important to an e-mail marketing campaign’s success, and yet so few marketers put enough time into writing a good subject line. Marketing e-mails can take hours and hours to write and design, and yet without a good subject, it doesn’t matter how informative or interesting that e-mail actually is – no one is going to open it. If you are having trouble with engagement numbers, put a little bit more time into writing out your subject. Avoid spammy sounding words like ‘act now’ or ‘free,’ and try to utilize verbs to inspire action from your readers. Your subject line doesn’t have to be focus grouped or designed in a boardroom, but you should put some thought into it before hitting the send button. And, if you do, you’ll soon begin to notice more people opening, reading, and clicking-through your e-mails.

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