The Subject Line: More Important Than the Email Body
Email marketing can, when done right, still be one of the most effective forms of digital marketing, even though it is one of the oldest. Getting your messages right – and read by the right people – is not always easy though.
Usually, when people compose an email they spend lots of time working on the body of the message. Writing the copy, tweaking the copy, redoing the copy until they feel it’s just right. Then there are images to be sourced, placed and edited until they are just right too. Then, just before the message is scheduled to be sent, they slap a subject line in, almost as an afterthought.
That, however, is a huge mistake, as the simple fact is that the subject line is more important than any of the copy, any of the images, as, in order to get someone to open an email and actually get to that wonderfully crafted email body their attention must be drawn to it in a sea of other messages that are all trying to do the same thing.
The Stats Don’t Lie – Email Subject Line Statistics
It’s easy to be told something, but most sensible business people like statistics to back up assertions like the one we’re making here. Fortunately, there are plenty of them. Here’s a look at some of them:
According to research conducted by Jay Baer of Convince and Convert:
- 33% of people surveyed said they open emails based on subject line alone.
- 69% of people surveyed admitted that a subject line is all they need to read to report an email as spam.
- 22% of people surveyed said that if an email subject line is personalized they are more likely to open it over one that is not.
Based on those statistics alone you can already see that email subject lines make a significant impact on whether or not a message is read. But for even more evidence of their importance take a look at what email provider Adestra’s 2016 survey found:
- There is an 18.7% decrease in email open rates if the word “newsletter” is used in subject lines.
- There is a 61.8% increase in opens if the word “alert” is used in subject lines.
- Using “Daily” or “Weekly” in subject lines boosts open rates but making use of “Monthly” decreases open rates.
- Subject lines that use language that creates a sense of urgency or exclusivity can result in a 22% higher open rate.
As to character and word counts, opinion tends to vary. Some experts say that shorter is better, especially when displayed on a mobile device, and by keeping the subject line under 40 characters it is easier to scan, something most people do rather than read each email subject line closely.
There are also others who say you can get the attention you are hoping for with just two or three carefully chosen words, but however you do it, usually short and sweet is the best way to go.
Writing Great Email Subject Lines: Some Helpful Tips
Statistics are great, but you’re sending real emails in the real world, and now need to learn how to up your email subject line game. There really is no one-size-fits-all template, or cheat sheet you can use, as every email marketing campaign has different goals. But there are some basic best practices you can follow and then adapt to suit your audience and target goals:
Avoid the Spammy
Overly salesy email subject lines are the ones that tend to most often be perceived as spam. This means that you should avoid making use of shouty all caps and multiple exclamation points and make use of words and phrases like ‘free’ or ‘buy now’ with great care, as the spam filters within email programs tend to flag emails headlined with these ‘trigger words’ as junk right away.
While on the subject of spam, in order to increase your Sender Score with your email client you should try to ensure that the email addresses you are sending messages to are valid in the first place. The Find That Lead Email Address Verifier will be a big help there, and it’s super easy to use.
Ask a Question
Why should you make use of a question in your email subject line? Because questions are a great way to not only focus a reader’s attention but also to pique their natural curiosity. As questions are incomplete without their corresponding answer, they will often inspire a reader to open the email in search of that answer.
Declare a Deadline
Remember the stat about urgent email subject lines? Including a deadline in yours can be an excellent way to inspire immediate action, especially if you can make it clear that missing out on what’s on offer would be a terrible shame.
Lists are still a draw for many and the reason for their popularity is simple. In an increasingly busy and complicated world people are drawn to lists as they offer a way to make sense out of big, complex concepts via smaller, easy to digest segments.
By teasing a list in your email subject line, you will convey to the browsing reader that the content is going to be organized, easy to digest and useful, exactly what they are probably looking for.
Big Up Your Brand
You should never be afraid to feature your business’ name as a part of the subject line. Often people still do things the ‘old-fashioned way’ and open emails based on the sender name alone. If your brand can become one of those whose emails are recognized, trusted and, most importantly read, based on name recognition alone you will be onto a very good thing.
Test, Test and Test Some More
One of the best ways to determine which email subject lines will appeal most to your unique audience is to test several at the same time every time you send out an email campaign. Over time, and with a little time spent analyzing the information your email provider will offer about the response to each email, you will eventually be able to come up with the email subject line ‘formula’ you need to help ensure the success of every message you send.