6 Best Practices for Effective Email Subject Lines
SEPTEMBER 18, 2012:
Grant Evans, Director of Operations and Digital Publishing
Email Marketing Marketing Strategy Results
In the typical process of creating an email, why is it that the most important part of the email is usually thought of last? Subject lines are the first point of entry into your email. It doesn’t matter how great your offer is or how well your email is designed. If the subject line doesn’t entice the reader, they’ll move onto the next email and all your hard work would be for not.
Here’s a list of best practices and things to think about when you’re crafting your next email campaign:
Keep it catchy. Instead of “Here’s our next newsletter issue,” try weaving one or two of the main topics of your email into the subject line. Think hard not about what you want people to do, but what you think will grab their attention most and lure them into opening the email. Remember, for CAN-SPAM your subject line must relate to the content of your email, so don’t use “Get your free iPad now!” if there is nothing about getting a free iPad in the email.
Add a sense of immediacy. Call to action statements like “Now,” “Before it’s too late” or “Today only” can help encourage the reader to open your email now instead of waiting until later. This is especially important because we know how easy it is to forget to go back to an email when you get a hundred or more emails a day.
Use symbols. A new trend has been to add catchy symbols in the subject line. You can add a symbol to separate or surround words or even replace words. For example:
The most popular symbols are: ♥ ★ ☼ ♫ ☀ ✿ ☆ ♡ ⇒ ☺ ❤ ✈ ✞ → ☂
The one recommendation with regard to adding symbols: don’t overdo them. Make sure they support the subject line, they aren’t there just for eye candy and test whether they help or not. There is no conclusive data stating that they increase spam, but it’s a new trend so it’s better to be safe. Keep in mind, not all symbols work or look the same on all email platforms, so test how they render too. Facebook symbols
is a good resource for lots of fun symbols.
Personalize it. Not only can you insert their name in the subject line, but you can personalize it by their interest. We’ve found that open and click rates can increase by customizing the subject line to appeal to specific demographic data.
Focus on the beginning. Keep the important information at the beginning of the subject line. The standard length people say is best is 50 characters or under, but there's nothing to say it can't be longer, just keep the important information toward the beginning
Test, test, test. The biggest recommendation with email marketing, regardless of what you’re looking to improve on, is to test what works and what doesn’t. Don’t just stop once you’ve found a winning strategy. Keep testing over time, there’s always room to improve.