Subject Lines: Often The Difference Between Winning and Losing in Email Marketing Campaigns

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There are obviously a lot of factors that contribute to success in email marketing: the quality of your list, the timeliness and relevance of your message, and the strength of your writing and offer. But, arguably, none of those elements will impact the success of an individual campaign as much as the subject line will.

Because the subject line can so directly impact whether your email is opened, read, or marked as spam, #emailmarketingweak would simply not be complete without some dedicated space to discuss subject lines and common pitfalls.

 Don’t make the subject an afterthought or a “throw away”

The subject line is IMPORTANT. And yes, that’s all caps IMPORTANT. Not focusing on it is a wasted opportunity and using “Email Newsletter”, “Tip of the Month” or “My Monthly Update” is basically throwing that opportunity in the trash.

Put some serious thought into the subject line and focus on the value that this message is designed to bring to the recipients.

People get a LOT of email: you need to cut through the clutter

Your email needs to attract attention if you want it to be opened, it needs to look important and stand out in a crowded inbox. Make your subject short, to the point, catchy and action-related. Most email marketing services will also let you use merge data in subject lines which means you can easily personalize your subject line, another way to catch your prospect’s eye.

Statistics also show that B2B emails are more likely to get opened if the subject speaks directly to “profit”, “revenue” or “money.” (Source: Adestra)

Of course, most of this is just common sense. After all, which email, based on subject alone would you be more likely to open?

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 Don’t be disingenuous

This is a short and extremely straight-forward tip. If your subject line makes a promise, your message has to fulfill it. Don’t bait and switch your audience and don’t make them feel cheated when they read the message. This can drive frustration, opt-outs and spam reports.

 If you have a large email list, consider A/B testing your subject lines

Businesses with larger email lists, say a couple thousand subscribers or so, might consider using A/B testing to optimize their subject lines. Very often, changing one or two words can make a BIG (double-digit) difference in open rates. A/B testing can give you 2 chances — or more — to get that subject line perfect.

But note that we’d only recommend taking this approach if you have a large enough list that you’d get significant results on both versions of the campaign. On a smaller list, the differences in between two subject lines might be circumstantial and not the sort of results that you should use to make decisions for future campaigns.

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