To get your email opened and not just deleted it needs a good Subject Line. The best email subject lines are short, descriptive, and provide the reader with a reason to explore your message further. Attempts to stand out in the inbox by using splashy or cheesy phrases will invariably result in your email being ignored. In short, keep your subject lines simple and to the point.
A recent study completed by a major email marketing company analyzed the open rates for over 200 million emails. Open rates ranged from an amazing 93% to a dismal 0.5%. Many additional factors affect how an email is viewed such as frequency, sender, and the nature of the message. Personal messages are at the top of the interest scale, followed by affiliations and timely news. At the other end of the scale are stale newsletters, requests for money and offers that are too good to be true.
Three Words to Avoid
An unexpected discovery in the analysis was the negative impact of three innocent words. Email marketers are familiar with words such as “free” which are generally to be avoided in emails since they tend to trigger spam filters. The report identified innocuous words that won’t trigger a spam filter, but will negatively affect your open rates. They are: Help, Percent off, and Reminder.
Newsletter Half Life
Newsletters tend to start with high open rates, but all experience some reduction in time. The challenge to the newsletter writer is to keep the content fresh. Repeating the exact same subject line for each newsletter accelerates the drop in open rates. While it is important to establish continuity and branding of the newsletter, ideally each new campaign should provide a clear indication in the subject line of what is inside this newsletter that is of interest.
Subject Line Length
The general rule of thumb in email marketing is to keep your subject line to 50 characters or less. Our analysis found this to generally be the rule. The exception was for highly targeted audiences where the reader apparently appreciated the additional information in the subject line.
The From Line
The From information can be as important as the subject line. As a best practice the From and Subject line should work in tandem. The From line should communicate who you are as the sender. As much as possible this entry should not change and should concisely convey who you are. Save any humorous phrases or concepts for the subject line.
By their very nature, promotional emails tend to not perform as well as emails where the reader has a high level of emotional affinity or expects valuable and timely information. Within the category of promotional emails, the same basic rules apply. Keep the message straightforward and avoid using splashy promotional phrases, CAPS, or exclamation marks in your subject lines. Subject lines framed as questions can often perform better.