If you receive the #emailweekly regularly, you have been subject to innovative/ridiculous designs, delayed sends, obscure subject lines and the odd error here and there. Some of these were on purpose, others weren’t. I guess you could say we’ve kind of learnt something from each one.
We like to think of the weekly as a playground for email code so we thought we would bare all for the eyes of our subscribers. Here is what we’ve found from AA/AB testing/sending the email weekly so far:
Well, actually not much. But that’s because we already know the results of this test are useless.
Last week Clickhole posted this excellent send up of subject line “best practice”, including such gems as ‘Start your subject line with “GOOD EMAIL”‘ and ‘For urgent emails, write “I HAVE YOUR DAUGHTER”‘. We’ve been questioning the value of perceived subject line best practice for a while – there’s obviously a lot of value in writing a subject line that grabs your audience, but we’re not convinced that following an arbitrary set of rules is the right way to get there.
For most users, the email inbox is a busy place, with a stack of emails screaming out to be opened. In this kind of environment, it’s essential to make sure your subject line is compelling and demands to be opened. After all, no matter how pretty and well built your email campaign is, if your subject line is monotonous and uninspiring then none of your recipients will look at it. These 5 tips have been proven time and time again to significantly boost your open rates and overall conversions from your email campaigns:
Tip #1: Add personalisation
Think about what data you have to hand, and how it can be implemented into the subject line. For many marketers, adding the recipients’ first or surname often boosts open rates.
Tip #2: Avoid spammy words
This is a given, both in the subject line and your email copy. Don’t include multiple exclamation marks, multiple dollar signs, all caps text or words like “viagra”. There’s lots of differing lists of spammy words – check with your email sender as they’ll have the most accurate insight.
Tip #3: Focus on the benefits
Tell people why they should open your message – outline your key offer and tell them how it will benefit them. Of course, you should always make sure your subject line relates to the content of your mailing. If users feel tricked into reading your email, at best they won’t be back, and worse they’ll mark your email as spam.
Tip #4: Use pyramid writing
Most email clients cut off subject lines somewhere between 40 and 60 characters. In addition, users scan subject lines from left to right, so it makes sense to put your key offering right at the start. For example “Buy a new toaster in our sale and save 50%” won’t be as effective as “50% off toasters in our sale”.
Tip #5: Test test test!
As with all best practice, everything is only theoretical until you’ve tested it with your specific company, market niche and recipients. Testing what works and constantly refining your subject lines is the best way to guarantee a result.
Bonus Tip: Sometimes longer is better
In some instances, particularly long newsletters with lots of offers and content, a long subject line can function as a contents section. Most email clients will still cut off the subject line after 60 or so characters, but once the user opens the email the full subject line is displayed – and it’s suggested that this is what they’ll read first. Regardless, it’s still worth optimizing those first 60 characters.
Bonus Tip #2: Sender name and pre-header
There’s two other tools you have at your disposal before a recipient opens your email. The first is the sender name and your sender email address – these should be consistent and reflect your brand name. In some situations, if you’re running a regular mailing you could also incorporate the name of your newsletter into the sender name. The other tool you have, which applies in certain email clients such as Outlook 2007 and Gmail, is the pre-header or Johnson Box.