The best copywriting in the world doesn’t do you a lick of good if no one sees it. If your email ends up in the trash bin unopened, all the time you spent fussing over the body of the email is for naught.
There are two, and only two, elements that determine whether or not your email heads straight for the trash heap: 1) the “from” line, and 2) the subject line.
The “from” line needs to be instantly recognizable. That’s pretty straightforward. The subject line requires more thought, yet is often totally glossed over.
Here are a few suggestions to make sure your emails get opened:
One of my pet peeves involves companies that advertise an enewsletter, then deliver nothing but promotional offers. When people sign up to receive “helpful tips and advice” and then get a stream of emails shouting “50% off until next Saturday,” there’s a big disconnect between what they expect and what they receive.
During your signup process, make it clear whether you’ll be sending useful information, sales and promotions, or both. Even better, give people a choice and segment your list accordingly.
Keep Subject Lines Short
Email recipients usually only see about 50 characters of a subject line in their preview pane, although that figure is by no means standard. For this reason, it’s especially important to front-load your copy with the most important words first. For instance, I changed the subject line on the enewsletter this article was first published in from “Are your emails getting opened?” to “Your emails: opened or trashed?” It may seem like such differences are splitting hairs, but tests prove otherwise.
Use Punctuation Wisely
For one thing, use exclamation points sparingly, if at all! They smack of spam!!!
On the other hand, questions often work well to engage the reader, don’t you think?
Try Different Things
Offers are by far the most common type of subject line, but there are lots of other options. For some suggestions on different kinds of subject lines, see our recent blog post.
Examples, Good and Bad
To hone your subject line skills, start paying attention to those that attract your attention and those you immediately delete. Notice what each group has in common. As further food for thought, have a look at our recent blog posts with examples of both good subject lines and bad subject lines.
Above all, be sure to give your subject lines the attention they deserve. The success of your email campaigns depends on it!