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Carving the Perfect Email Subject Line

What entices you to open any email? More than anything else, the decision making factor is the subject line.  Many marketers keep it short- typically around 50 characters.  Why?  Because a subject line of an email should be compelling and concise enough to convince the recipient to open the email and take the necessary call to action.

That said, there is no magic formula, as an email subject takes both art and science to craft. You should be able to connect with your audience’s heart with a compelling subject on the one side, but it needs to have strategic intent and the right tone too!

Here are 4 rules to consider to get to that perfectly carved compelling email subject for your email campaign, and get a good open, click and deliverability rate too:

  1. Get to the Point: Relevance is key, so get to the point in the most creative way with fresh information. Remember, attention spans are short and your recipients’ time is valuable.
  2. Don’t Mislead for an Open: You want to add a spark to a headline so that it creates curiosity and leads the recipient to open the email. That said, you don’t want to mislead them just to get the email opened. Your subject should tie back to the content in the email. This will improve long term email results, since your goal is to build trust. So be honest, concise and precise while enticing them to open the email.
  3. Test, Test, Test: Perform A/B Testing for your subject line on a segment of your desired recipients. It will certainly give you great insights into what will work for you. Here are some of the types of tests I have done with Marketo customers to improve their subject lines:
    • Personalization: Using first name or company name
    • Proof:  Highlighting an expert or a peer of the recipient
    • Scarcity: Highlighting that the content is exclusive or limited
    • Relevance: Mentioning their city or a competitor
    • Brevity: Shorter email subjects versus longer
  4. Review and focus on the end goal: Look back at your emails or lead nurturing campaigns and see which subject lines got you the best conversions and click-throughs. Most of the time we tend to think, higher open rate is the best way to read the result on if an email subject is good (which is true), but also try to get more insight by ensuring those subject lines lead to results. Going one step deeper may help you identify the content that is working with your audience, allowing you to write more relevant emails going forward.

These tips, plus keeping subject lines short (think 50 characters or 4-6 words) will surely have an  impact on your email marketing success. Personally, I have seen lot of my customers achieve great results with these tips, and I would love to know if these help you (or if I’ve missed any that you can share). What are you testing in your emails?