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July 20, 2015

Create Effective Subject Lines for Successful Marketing Campaigns

Image courtesy of (Stuart Miles)/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

E-mail marketing is considered one of the most effective ways to reach an audience in any given industry. However, simply sending an e-mail isn’t enough to create the return on investment that most businesses are looking to gain from this sort of initiative. Creating a cohesive and successful e-mail takes effort and skill in order to produce results aligned with key performance indicators.

Each day, users are inundated with brand messaging—especially in their mailboxes. To cut through the clutter, companies need subject lines that evoke intrigue and interest. Without those two things, your campaigns are at great risk of being overlooked and ignored by users. While the content of your e-mail is incredibly important, you have to develop initial interest with users so that they actually want to hear what you have to say and take the time to look at what you’re sending them. When you’re crafting an e-mail to be distributed to your list of contacts for any mailer, you need to consider the following things in order to have a successful campaign—specifically when it comes to your subject line:

Personalization

First, you should think about the expectation the user has for what kind of material they are going to be receiving from your organization. To anticipate what this expectation might be, think about the conditions that drove the user to sign-up for your e-mail list, and mirror your subject lines, and subsequently your e-mails, to reflect that reason of interest. If a user was reading a specific blog post, or downloaded a whitepaper before providing contact information, going forward your e-mails should be personalized to the subject that particular user is interested in. To reinforce the idea that users are receiving a relevant message, your subject line should contain at least some sort of indication that the e-mail contains information that will be worthwhile for them to digest.

That being said, you can’t set false expectations for your audience just to get them to open up the e-mail, or your click-through and conversion rates will suffer as a result. Using automation tools is incredibly beneficial to any company looking to produce results and see conversions from their e-mails. Automation allows you to tailor your e-mails based on what users want to receive. Subject lines can be created based on each individual e-mail to give users a heads up this content is something they would consider interesting and is related to why they signed up for your content in the first place.

Simplicity

In general, for B2Bs, sometimes simple subject lines are the most effective when it comes to getting users to open and interact with your e-mails. At our digital agency, simple subject lines have proven to be the most successful. To highlight this, we often look at our recurring mailer that we send out to provide our users with a portfolio of our recent website launches. This simple subject line (“our recent launches”) continues to perform higher than the marketing industry average, according to the statistics provided by MailChimp. A good subject line should provide users with a simple idea of what to expect, but still leave users intrigued, interested, and wanting to find out more. Users should be eager to open your e-mail and read more when they see your subject line appear in their inbox.

Consistency from Subject Line to Content

It goes without saying that your subject line should correlate with the messaging that the e-mail contains. If you want to go one step further, using terminology or words that directly reflect your subject line within the body your e-mail is a great way to alert users that they are looking at the correct content and that they are getting what they expected when they decided to open your e-mail. Even if you create a very interesting subject line, you aren’t going to have a high click-through rate if the content of the e-mail doesn’t reflect what you are providing—there needs to be a connection as users go from the subject line to opening and reviewing the rest of the mailer.

Think of a subject line almost like a title of an article or news story. Once you click on a headline for a news story, you still see that phrase again as you read, and typically will see it at the top of the page as well. Keep similar recurrences of your subject line somewhere obvious to reinforce continuity.

Subject Line Length

An appropriate word count for your subject line is one of the most important aspects to focus on as you develop your e-mails. Subject lines that are too long will lose significance, and any subject lines that are too short may give the impression that the e-mail will not provide value. The best way to determine if the length of your subject line is appropriate is to see how it will appear from the perspective of the recipient.

However, it isn’t as simple as doing one test e-mail to your own account because you are only reviewing the appearance of your message on one e-mail platform, while your users are likely using a wide variety of platforms, devices, and servers.

While using between six and ten words tends to provide the best results, to ensure that your subject line length is optimized for all platforms, you should use a tool such as Litmus’ subject line checker. This program allows you to test out your subject line and see how it will appear on almost all platforms. A quick check with this application will ensure that the e-mail you’ve created will reach all users the way you intended it to.

Effective Subject Lines

Subject lines are often what will encourage a user to open an e-mail or ignore it. By optimizing subject lines to follow best practices, your e-mail marketing initiatives will have a much higher ROI, and be much more likely to convert users.


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Gabriel Shaoolian is a digital trends expert and CEO and founder of Blue Fountain Media, a digital agency in NYC focused on growing brands online through effective websites and online marketing. From start-ups to Fortune 1000s, Blue Fountain Media helps generate more leads and increased brand recognition Last year alone, the company, which has a client roster that includes Procter & Gamble, Harper Collins, Canon, NFL, Publishers Clearing House, Sharp, AOL and the United Nations, drove more than 200 million monthly visitors and $2 billion in revenue to the digital properties of its clients.

2 Responses to “Create Effective Subject Lines for Successful Marketing Campaigns

    avatar Niraj says:

    Excellent article, Gabriel. Great tips, my pick would be consistency, very important because the reader may feel tricked if there is a difference between the subject line and content. Thanks, Niraj (Founder at grexit.com)

    avatar Tomm says:

    Thanks for sharing! Now I know exactly how to create effective subject lines with my GetResponse platform!

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