While technology surrounding the typical email subscriber may be quickly evolving (see my last column on the new inbox), the most important piece of the marketing equation will continue to be ensuring your messages get read. If they don’t, everything else is near worthless (outside of the branding implications that many hang their hat on). So how does a savvy digital marketer make sure their efforts are not all for naught?
The From Line
The from line and subject line are the two most important influencers in getting a marketing email opened and read. Yet they are often given little thought, if any, during the campaign planning process. The from line is often the symbolic “who” for the other side of the subscriber permission agreement. As I have said before, if consumers opt in because you have a well-known brand, why in the world would anything be in the from line besides this recognizable and influential brand? It doesn’t matter that your marketing manager set up the ESP account or previously had their name in the from line. Unless you are in the B2B world and have proven that a personalized or well-known name in the from line works, stay away or at least test before removing your brand from this key space.
The Subject Line
Subject lines are a craft that often get little love in the email space. They often get the attention of your subscriber, or fail to do so, when they are unimaginative, tell too much, or don’t stand out in a crowded inbox. We recently tested using a hashtag (#FreeCookieDay) among the subject line and experienced higher open rates than normal due to a socially savvy subscriber audience and a unique element that separated them from the pack. Even if you are not a Twitter user, a hashtag (if it’s clear or intriguing vs. an obscure one – more on the art of the hashtag can be found here) can be enough to stand out if your audience is a curious one.
Personalization of the subject line is one trick that even spammers employ but is worth considering in some situations. Don’t forget any automated emails and their subject lines.
Length is also important, and smartphones are changing the way and where people read emails, and many related strategies are increasingly worth reconsidering. We have clients where short and to-the-point subject lines (think VIP invitations with clear and concise benefits/calls to action) and others where lengthy subject lines tease you into reading the email and acting. Bottom line: testing subject lines and specifically length can make a difference.
In part two of this column, I will examine how smartphones, tablets, and the need to integrate social and other channels play a role in whether your message will get your subscribers’ attention. In the meantime, what are the tricks you employ for subject and from lines to make sure your subscribers keep reading, not deleting?