This article is just that!
Justine from Litmus has done an amazing job putting everything you need to know about subject lines in one handy infographic and article. So, print it out, pin it on the wall – and when we suggest changes to your subject lines you will now know why. It might even help you come up with your own whiz-bang subject lines…
Here’s the infographic below. To read the full article, click here.
It’s an old wives’ tale that certain practices will get you immediately marked as spam. Spam filters can be triggered for a variety of reasons, but specific words alone rarely are the culprit.
- Using all caps
- The ultimate four-letter word: free
- Exclamation points
- How content filtering actually works
Spam filters assign points to “spam” words in the subject line and body of an email. If the points exceed a certain threshold, then the email is considered spam. However, using any one (or two or three) of these words won’t automatically mean a trip to the junk folder. While content filtering plays a part in spam scores, your sender reputation and engagement metrics are much more important.
A recent MailChimp study analyzed the open rates for more than 200 million emails to determine which types of subject lines trigger recipient opening. Here are some of the strategies that worked, as well as others that fell flat.
Collecting (and using) geolocation information can improve open rates by being personal and relevant.[Example]: Nautica in Rutland Opens Soon!
Subject lines framed as questions perform better. Consider your audience’s needs, interests, or the types of questions your content might answer.[Example]: What’s your dream adventure?
Keep it short and sweet
Email marketing company MailerMailer found longer subject lines had lower open and click rates than those that were shorter. Try to say it all in 50 characters or less.[Too long: 98 characters] Final reminder for complimentary entry to attend the West Freelands BCI Cluster Conference 2006 [Get to the point! 24 characters] Your April Website Stats
Emails with 28–39 characters in the subject line had the highest click rates.
Subject line lengths and their corresponding open and click rates:
4–15 characters: 15.2% open; 3.1% click
16–27 characters: 11.6% open; 3.8% click
28–39 characters: 12.2% open; 4% click
40–50 characters: 11.9% open; 2.8% click
51+ characters: 10.4% open; 1.8% click
Proceed At Your Own Risk
The following strategies might drive quick opens but aren’t long term-solutions for improving your marketing.
Symbols and Special Characters: Hearts, aeroplanes and coffee cups might get your email opened, but the jury’s out on their effect on clicks.[Example]: ♥ it? Get it at 40% off!
Using “Re:” and “Fwd:” to imply that your message is from a trusted colleague or friend borders on deception and might damage subscriber trust.[Example]: FW: Get Connected at our B2B Networking Mixer
Fear of being scammed has left many consumers sceptical of emails with pleas for assistance or requests for help.
Using numbers can help quantify your message, but constant sales and promotions can lead to subscriber fatigue and general loss of interest.[Example]: SALE ends soon — Up to 50% off!
Including the recipient’s first or last name does not significantly improve open rates.[Example]: Matthew, SNAZZY SHOES wants you back
In a July 2012 study, MailerMailer saw significantly lower CTR and open rates for personalized subject lines comparedto non-personalized ones.
GET THE OPEN IN 6 STEPS
When writing the subject line for your next email, consider the following techniques.
1. Useful and ultra-specific: Make sure it is relevant, valuable, and the message is clear to your subscribers.
2. Identify yourself: Is it crystal clear to your subscribers who your email is from? Mention the most recognisable brand product in your subject line, or prefix your subject lines with a consistent identifier:
Example: [BCPL Happenings] Nationally Renowned Author to Speak
3. Be visually different: In order to make your email stand out, you can try to make your subject line stand out visually: Consider using brackets, variations on capitalization, phone numbers, quotes, etc.
4. Use timely topics and urgency: Hit home on a point that is top of mind for your subscribers, such as something in the news or a popular topic. Urgency works for real deadlines, but can be overdone.
5. Call to Action: People respond well when you ask (or tell) them to do something. What do you want your recipients to do?
6. Test it out: Test which subject lines resonate best with your audience, so you can repeat success.
In a nutshell: what are the dos and don’ts of subject lines?
Do set your subscribers’ expectations and clearly state what’s inside the email. Don’t write your subject lines like advertisements. The folks at MailChimp say it perfectly – “When it comes to email marketing, the best subject lines tell what’s inside, and the worst subject lines sell what’s inside.”
Always check your subject lines with Litmus Checklist
Check off “eye-catching subject line” on your final pre-send checklist using Litmus Checklist. With Checklist, you can preview your email in 50+ apps and devices, validate that your links, images, and tracking work properly, test your email’s load time, and more–all before pressing send.