Email Marketing Tactics #15: Use the Subject Line Effectively

The subject line in an email marketing campaign is the front line. It’s the first thing a recipient sees and forms their judgment about whether the email should be opened or deleted as SPAM. It can make or break a communication. Make sure the subject line honestly and succinctly states what the email is about.

Brevity is the soul of wit. This has never been truer than with a marketing email’s subject line. It serves the same function as a headline for an ad. It needs to give a sense of what the message is while drawing the recipient in.

A typical guideline is to keep subject lines to 50 characters or less. A shorter message allows a recipient to digest the information easily and let’ the full subject appear in most email programs preview pane.

The email subject should always honestly state what the email is about. If it is a series of informational emails, state which email it is in the series and the topic discussed. If it is an ad, state the primary benefit being offered. If it’s an event, state what the event is and if space allows, when and where it will take place.

It’s advisable to avoid gimmicks like “GET THIS FREE” or “ACT NOW!!!” Basically the worst of what infomercials have to offer should not be in your subject line for two reasons.

The first is that conversion is typically poor. Due to all the SPAM people receive they are skeptical of offers via email. When an offer is combined with gimmicks most recipients don’t view it as credible.

The second reason is that SPAM filters will scrub many of these tactics. For example the word “free”, anything in all capital letters, or excessive punctuation/symbols will usually count as a knock against the email in SPAM filters. One on its own likely won’t get the email sent to a SPAM folder but combining them raises the possibility.

Spend time writing effective email subjects. The best subject lines are short, get to the point, and provide a reason for recipients to open the marketing email.

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