The body of your email message is brilliant, but what about your subject line? As McKenzie Gregory, formerly of Emma Email Marketing and now of Building Connected points out, “There’s nothing more frustrating than working long and hard on an email, only to get abysmal open rates because the subject line didn’t hit the right note with your subscribers.”
What can you do to increase the possibility that your email won’t languish in a recipient’s inbox or be immediately deleted? Of course, there are no guarantees. We’re all busier than we should be and are bombarded with communications, but Ms. Gregory offers five excellent suggestions to improve your subject lines:
- Make good use of character count. Marketers generally try to keep subject lines at 40 to 50 characters. (A few years back, I attended a webinar where the presenter recommended no more than 41.) Ms. Gregory notes that you can go for fewer or more to increase the likelihood that your message will stand out. It’s well to remember, though, that less is more. So many people open email on their phones, and iPhones, for example, cut off subject lines somewhere around 35 characters.
- Offer something valuable. That is, tell potential readers what they’ll get if they open your message. Ms. Gregory says, “This one’s a bit of a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how few brands consider it when writing their subject lines.” Be explicit about the content and never be misleading. Huge thanks to Ms. Gregory for this great link.
- Pay attention to the preheader. According to Ms. Gregory, “. . . preheader text can actually be what makes or breaks the success of your subject line.” Preheader text adds octane—or not—to your subject line, gives you more characters to work with, and is likely what convinces a recipient to open your message. Be aware of how much preheader text various email clients support.
- Know your audience. And your brand, of course. Be authentic. Don’t get cute if that’s not your brand voice. Similarly, don’t be dead serious if you’ve been effective with a light-hearted message.
- Run tests. In today’s data-driven marketing environment, this should go without saying. You assume that you know your audience, but nothing is static. Your industry may be changing. Technology is evolving. You may have expanded your audience. So it’s a good idea to keep on top of changes. I think testing will really repay you, even if it takes extra time.
A while back, some pundits were predicting the demise of email. But it’s still here and not about to go anywhere, so it makes sense to do all you can to improve your chances of being read.