4 Tips for Better Email Marketing Subject Lines

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

email-to-worldFor B2B marketers, one of the best tools for lead generations is still email marketing. In a study reported in eMarketer, more than 51 percent of B2B marketers in a study ranked email marketing as the most important marketing tool for lead generation. In the survey, email marketing beat out other marketing tactics like SEO, content marketing, and social media marketing. However, though email marketing is essential for lead generation, creating emails that are properly received by it audience can be tricky. According to one report, the average user sends and receives more than 100 emails per day. Here are four tips to for better email marketing subject lines so that email content gets seen instead of trashed.

  1. Have a Reasonable Subject Line Length
    Email subject lines have an optimal length of less than 50 characters, and this is usually expressed to users of email marketing programs. Ironically, though one of the most basic rules for subject lines, it’s the one most commonly broken. Many email marketers, including some professionals, ignore the length recommendation because they think it relates to the attention span of reader. But the reason is far more simplistic and it’s why the rule should be followed. Email clients like Gmail, Thunderbird, Outlook, etc., can only show so much of the subject line when it’s viewed from the Inbox. So writing long subject lines means that they normally won’t be viewed until after the person opens the mail. For email marketers trying to use subject lines as means to convince people to open the email, a subject line that is too long is counterproductive. However, some research has shown that in some highly specialized markets, where readers expect the email from the sender, they appreciate the additional information.

  2. Use Numbers to Get Attention
    One of the simple things that email marketers can do to boost their open rates is include numbers in their subject lines. Adding numbers to subject line essentially multiplies the value of the email to the reader. To illustrate, in the subject line “5 Tips for Higher Ecommerce Sales” the reader is moved to action because they want to boost their ecommerce sales. By simply adding a “5” to the subject line, the reader now knows they will find five of the things they are looking for (tips for better sales) inside the email. The same thing works for limited time offers or limited supplies. People who would open an email with the subject “Limited Time Offer” would be more likely to open the same message if it said “Only 2 Days Left”. As a quick note, marketers should use proper style within the body of their email, but in the subject lines, it’s best to always use numerals instead of words (i.e. use ‘3’ instead ‘Three’). The numbers stand out more against the letters this way.

  3. Choose Excitement Over Descriptive
    Writing subject lines for email marketing isn’t like writing subject lines for personal emails. In personal email correspondence, the recipient is normally eager to read anything from the sender. The subject just serves to describe to the reader what they should expect. Subject lines can serve the same purpose in email marketing but its more vital that they excite the viewer into opening the message. To illustrate, the subject line “Company X Newsletter Winter Issue” is descriptive, but unless the reader was already eager to read anything about Company X, this subject line wouldn’t excite the reader enough to open the message. A better subject line would be “5 New Product Release Exclusives”. Though this is sort of less descriptive, it’s far more engaging. If it’s possible to be exciting and descriptive, then do so. But if it’s a choice of one or the other, choose the subject line that’s exciting.

  4. Test Multiple Subject Lines
    Marketers who spend time trying to craft the perfect subject line will often find themselves with multiple options that are equally appealing. While there are no right or wrong answers in marketing, there is such a thing as empirical data. Email marketers should use AB tests to see which subject line performs the best. This can be done several ways. Depending on email marketing program being used, AB tests can be done for each email campaign. A set number of emails are sent to users with one variant of the subject line, then the subject line with the higher open rate is used when sending out the remainder of the emails. For marketers without access to such built-in tools, this kind of testing can be done manually for individual campaigns or by tracking the differences in open rates over multiple campaigns. However they choose to perform the test, what’s important is that such tests are being performed. Subject lines are extremely important, and even when marketers feel they have a good one (or general strategy), they should test that belief and make decisions based on the data.

The subject line is the most important part of any email campaign because if people aren’t inspired to open the message, it doesn’t matter how compelling the content is within the message. Given the importance of a few dozen characters, it makes sense for marketers to take the time and examine every possibility that can lead to higher open rate. With the proliferation of web-based email marketing platforms, email marketing is something that small business owners can do on their own. But if a business is consistently having trouble getting good results through email marketing, it may be time to consider outsourcing that function.

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