The Art of Writing A Good Subject Line

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In any E-Mail marketing campaign, the most important aspect is often the subject line. The subject line is like a gate keeper, it is the first hurdle which must be overcome to get access to a potential customer. Writing a good subject line can be a tricky process. Hence, we created a post to help guide you through the process.

The key to a successful subject line is how succinct it can be. The key is to convey as much useful information as possible in as few words as possible while providing something interesting enough for the reader to want to open the e-mail, not a simple task.

The first tip comes from MailChimp and provides three words to avoid at all costs. The e-mail marketing services provider conducted a study of over 200 Million emails to see what worked and what didn’t. They analyzed e-mails with open rates ranging from over 93% to as little as 0.5%. The results showed that words which resulted in low open rates were “Help”, “Percent off”, and “reminder”. According to the survey, the word “help” represents a waste of the users time, especially if it is coming from a source they don’t have a close personal relationship for. “Percent off” provides connotations of e-mail scams and sales which can discourage users from opening the message. Lastly, the word reminder also represents a waste of time for the receiver as the subject line itself has reminded the user of whatever they needed reminding of.

Another interesting point from the MailChimp report is that it doesn’t really help to put the receiver’s name in the subject, contrary to popular belief. However, if you are able to provide some information relevant to the receiver’s local area (city, state, neighborhood), it can help increase sales.

Like with anything else, inspiration is key to writing a good business line. The easiest way to get some ideas flowing is to head over to the websites of well respected newspapers such as the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal and just read headlines. These single line summaries are crafted by the best “summary line” writers in the world and can help you figure out how to convey your message in just a few short words. Visiting social media websites such as Digg.com may also be a good idea to see what kind of headlines people are voting for and what responds well with users.

The subject line needs to be succinct. While there is no hard rule to follow, anything over 65 characters is often considered to be too long. The shorter the better, provided that you give users a reason to open. Phrases like “more information inside” are not the sort of reasons we are talking about. Instead, you need to find out what matters to those you are targeting and convey that the information they care about is inside. In the MailChimp study, the subject line “Your April Website Stats” had an open rate of almost 93%. There is nothing especially complex about this subject line but it provides personalized information which is both relevant and important.

The from line is also important in determining the success of your “open rate”. It’s best to have the handle be something which your receivers will recognize. It should also be a name and not an address. For example, if the e-mail you are sending is from subscribers of your corporate blog, then have the from field say “Corporate Blog”, not blog@corporate.com.

The last point to consider is frequency. The more often your send an e-mail, the less likely it is to be opened. Hence, it is important that you vary up your subject lines a considerable amount and provide new additional and useful information, to entice receivers to open your e-mail.

 

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