Putting subject lines to work for you

Your email subject line can make or break the success of your email marketing campaign. Yes, those 50 characters (or less) really are that powerful. The subject line is what determines whether a reader is going to open your email, or delete it unread- so you really have to make those characters count.

What’s the secret to creating powerful subject lines?

There are actually a number of things you can do to help your subjects stand out and demand to be clicked.

  • Take your time. Avoid dashing off the first subject line that comes to mind—because chances are, your first thought isn’t your best option. When you actually sit down with the intention to craft a great subject line, your results will improve.
  • Personalize. Including the recipient’s name or other appropriate individual information in the subject line is an easy way to increase email click rates. Personalized messages are opened up to 64% more often.
  • Employ A/B testing. While it might add a little time to your campaign, this method is definitely worth it. A/B testing in a nutshell is trying out two (or more) options in a test market to find out which has the better response. For subject lines, you can send small batches of emails with two different subject lines, and the exact same content, and measure the response rate for each. Your email provider may offer this service, and you can also use free tools like the Google Website Optimizer.
  • Set a deadline. Urgency creates action. If you’re planning a short-term promotional offer, you might use a series of email subject lines to tell your recipients how much time they have left to take advantage of it—like “Only three days left”.
  • Be relevant and concise. Misleading subject lines will turn off your recipients, and they’ll be less likely to open future emails from you. Make sure your subject line includes only relevant information. Also, eliminate adverbs and adjectives, and even articles, whenever possible without sacrificing the meaning of the subject.

Avoiding the spam filter

It goes without saying that the surest way to prevent your emails from being opened is to write subject lines that keep people from receiving your messages. This means not tripping spam filters.

As a general rule for your subject lines, never use ALL CAPS, quotation marks, symbols like $, &, @, or ***, or multiple exclamation points. (In fact, it’s best to avoid exclamation points altogether.) These tactics not only signal spam filters to flag your message, they also portray your business in a not-so-professional light.

Certain words and phrases serve as red flags for spam filters. Most forms of “free” will send your emails straight into spam folders. Other popular spam-bait words and phrase include: 50% off!, Click Here, Call Now!, Subscribe, Earn $, You’re a Winner!, Cash Bonus, Satisfaction Guaranteed, and the innocuous-seeming “Information you requested”.

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