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Effective e-mail subject lines
  • Sep 7, 2020
  • 2 minutes

Effective e-mail subject lines

What is the first thing you scan in your e-mail inbox? For me, it's the subject line. If it catches my attention, then I check to see who sent it. Your relationship with your readers/customers starts with the subject line. You can have subject lines as long as you choose, but assume that your recipients see only the first 56 characters. That's what you have to work with it to make an impression strong enough to get your readers to the next stage - clicking and opening the e-mail you've toiled over.

Support your subject line and create instant recognition with the same From: information every time. That does not mean an anonymous person in your company, but a real and recognizable persona. That does not mean that every reply has to go to the CEO! That's what redirected e-mails are for.

Now that many e-mail clients block images by default, your subject line is the most important sentence in your entire campaign.

Consider a descriptive name for your regular newsletter and then expand on that if you feel it necessary or desirable. For example:

  • TrendBlog-New Research Results on Testing subject Lines (55 spaces)
  • TrendBlog-I'm Sorry You Feel That Way (40 spaces)
  • TrendBlog-Top 5 Strategies to Build Subscribership (50 spaces)

Take a cue from the headlines. Be clear, concise, and creative - so long as our creativity doesn't confuse your readers. It is important that the subject line is easy for people to understand and archive to find later.

Savvy e-mail marketers are three times more likely than novices to test subject lines. The larger your list, the more important subject line testing is. However, you can always enlist a group of trusted people to give you their opinions on which subject line they feel is most effective. A twist on this is used by Outside magazine, whose e-mail newsletter includes a link to vote for your choice of the magazine cover for the upcoming issue. Not only does it engage the online audience, but it also drives readers to the newsstands to see which cover design won.

Many e-mail experts, myself included, recommend that you personalize the subject line with the recipient's name. However, some recipients may find a first-name basis overly familiar, which could be a potential faux pas. Always be honest. Just yesterday I got an e-mail from a major publication. The From: line was the "Magazine".com. The subject line was: "Your friend wants you to receive Pearls of Wisdom," so I took the time to open the e-mail. It was an offer from one of their advertisers. The last time I checked, I didn't include major pharmaceutical companies as personal friends. Consider the fallout of tricking your recipients.

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