Email marketing can be an amazing tool in your marketing arsenal, and can bring about great results. But those results can only be attained if you use it properly. Every email software on the market today will prompt you to enter a ‘subject’ for your email. Even though your subject may only be a few words (a fraction when compared with all the content in your actual message!), it can be the make it or break it factor for your email marketing campaign. This article will outline what the email subject is, various pitfalls to avoid, and how to select a good subject for your campaign.
The email subject represents an important part of your email marketing campaign because typically it is the very first thing your recipient will see. Most programs will show both the “from name” and “subject” as soon as the message lands in the reader’s inbox. It is with these two pieces of information that your reader must decide whether or not to open your email. It goes without saying that your email open rates are a key measurement to success, so this is a truly important step in the overall process. The “from name” should tell the recipient who is sending them this email. It may be your company/organization name or your personal name, but it should always be a name your reader will recognize. The subject describes the contents of your message, so the recipient can get a sense of what the email is about. The subject is designed to essentially answer the question: “when I open this email, what will I be reading about?” A good subject will pique your recipients’ interests, get them excited to read more, and ultimately lead to them opening up your email in full.
One of the biggest mistakes people make when selecting a subject line is to choose something that is far to gimmicky. These gimmicky subject lines are often comprised of phrases like “this email will change your life”, “congratulations you won”, “the key to your success”, “all your wildest dreams will come true”, and more. The problem with these subjects is that today’s consumer sees right through them. While this may have been effective in the early days of the internet, the savvy consumer of today understands that the email sitting in their inbox is probably not actually the greatest thing to ever happen to them. As such, when they see gimmicky subjects like this, they often pass over them, assuming the message is junk. That is why it is so important that email marketers get rid of their gimmicky vocabulary. After all, if you assume your recipient is interested in what you have to say, then being honest about it is probably the best course of action.
Another mistake people frequently make when entering the subject into their email marketing is that they enter something far too long. Most email programs have a limit to how many characters can be displayed in the email subject, although the actual amount does vary. Since you always want to make sure your subject can be read in its entirety, avoid putting overly long sentences as your subject. The bigger fear is that your subject will get truncated (or cut off) in a random spot and that may change the entire meaning. For example, if your subject is “All our imported items are half off this weekend” gets cut off to become “All our imported items are half off this week”, then it skews when your customers think this sale is taking place. You may actually have a customer flag your message thinking they have an entire week to act, when in fact it’s just the weekend.
When choosing a good subject to enter, the most important thing is to put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Do not think about the email from your perspective, but rather from theirs, because it is ultimately up to them whether or not they open your email. Even if you come up with the greatest subject, if it doesn’t “speak” to your audience then it may not produce great results.
Ideally your subject should be between 4 – 8 words written in proper casing. Do not try to get fancy by writing in all capital letters or including excessive exclamation marks, because that increases the likelihood of you getting flagged as spam. It is also important that you proofread your subject and ensure it does not have any typos or other mistakes. An email subject with spelling errors looks very amateurish (and is probably embarrassing, too!).
The best email marketing subjects will describe the contents of your email and pique readers’ interests at the same time. The subject is like a preview for an upcoming movie, where they give you just enough to know what the movie is about, but they leave you wanting more. If your email marketing subject can do that, then it will encourage people to open the message and read it in full. This ultimately paves the way for greater results and greater email marketing success.
A little bit of effort can go a long way towards boosting the results you get with your email marketing subject line. By avoiding some of the main pitfalls and putting on your thinking cap, you can create meaningful and effective subjects to drive up the open rate on your email marketing campaigns.
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