Email Subject Lines
Three seconds and 40 characters.
That's all you usually have to work with when trying to get and hold the attention of someone reading email. And with user behavior changing so much in response to overwhelming amounts of spam, the attention spans of email readers are getting shorter. Needless to say, it's vital to make the most of your introduction via the email subject line.
Email marketing powerhouse DoubleClick.com conducts annual surveys with regard to user behavior when it comes to email. A couple of the statistics from their latest findings are interesting. The second-biggest motivator in opening email is the subject line. (The first is the "from" line.)
Because e-mail marketing subject lines are often truncated at around 40 characters -- and because email readers usually have their index fingers poised over the delete button -- we're left with about three seconds and approximately six words to make an impression.
So what works?
Which types of subject lines have proven to be successful?
Here are a few ideas to help get your e-mail opened:
1. Make An Offer
It's an old sales cliche that still holds true in the fast-paced world of cyberspace: Lead with your best offer. Whether a product, service, or proposal, you want to tell people up front about your deepest discounts, your fastest delivery, or your grandest idea.
Get their attention right off the bat, and you'll likely have your message read. (It's even better if your offer happens to be time-sensitive.) Examples include:
"Half Off Leather Coats Until November 1st"
"Top 10 Reasons To Join [Whatever]"
"Link To High-ranking Web Pages"
2. State a Benefit
Since the majority of consumer and B2B customers live in the "what's in it for me" world, benefits always make powerful subject lines. Telling the readers what the end results of their actions will be helps them visualize the need for your product or service. Here are a few examples based on the subject lines above:
"Find Summer's Hottest Trends for 50% Off"
"Discover [Whatever] in Only Seven Minutes"
"Build Link Popularity & Traffic for Your Website"
3. Evoke Curiosity
We all want to know what is what. Our curiosity gets the best of us, and we want to know more. That's not only true when it comes to watching program previews on TV. It's also true for email as well. Some of the best subject lines hook readers by piquing their curiosity, and then reel them in to read the entire message.
"Are You Still Wearing Last Years Fashions?"
"The Secrets to [Whatever] Never Before Revealed"
"Link-popularity Problems You Should Avoid"
Of course, the key to writing the best subject lines is knowing your target market, making the topic relevant, and testing, testing, testing.
The other interesting fact from the DoubleClick email survey is that relevancy is a major player. Over 55% of respondents said they deleted email that wasn't relevant because they considered it spam. DoubleClick also reported that the average open rate was 27.5% (for text or HTML messages). That gives you a baseline to gauge your success.
Not every type of subject line will work for every campaign. Testing is vital. And it's easy enough to do. One of my favorite ways is to set up a Google AdWords campaign and judge the clickthrough rates. This quickly (and cheaply) tells you which subject lines will work and which won't. You can also test your subject lines by sending your emails to a smaller test list before broadcasting to the entire group.
Whichever styles of subject lines you choose, make sure you know your target audience so you can develop relevant subject lines. Then test and test
again until you've created subjects that are highly persuasive and deliver record-breaking open rates.
Because so much is riding on your email subject line, below is a list of words to avoid when doing e-mail marketing.
Budget: $200 - $750 monthly
Be sure to review and remove them before you send your next email-marketing campaign.
99 words to avoid in your e-mail subject lines or get them immediately swept into a spam folder or worse, flagged as spam by an Internet Service Provider (ISP):
1. 100% free
2. 50% off
3. act now
4. all words that relate to sex or pornography
5. all words that related to cures or medication
7. anything that looks like you are YELLING
8. apply now
9. as seen
10. as seen on Oprah
11. as seen on TV
13. be your own boss
15. call now
16. cash bonus
18. click here
22. contains $$$
23. contains word "ad"
25. Dear Friend
27. don't delete
28. double your anything
29. double your income
30. e.x.t.r.a. Punctuation
32. earn $
33. earn extra cash
34. easy terms
35. eliminate debt
36. extra income
37. fast cash
38. financial freedom
39. for only
40. for you
43. free access
44. free gift
45. free info
46. free instant
47. free offer
48. free samples!
50. g a p p y t e x t
52. get out of debt
56. home based
58. information you requested
61. life insurance
62. limited time
65. lose weight
66. lower your mortgage rate
67. lowest insurance rates
68. make money
71. multi level marketing
73. now only
74. numerical digits at the end
76. online degree
77. online marketing
78. online pharmacy
82. promised you
87. search engine listings
88. serious cash
89. starting with a dollar amount
90. stop or stops
92. you're a winner!
93. undisclosed recipient
97. work from home
99. your family
100. your own
Use these words at your own risk of being flagged a spammer.