You already know that email marketing is one of the most powerful techniques to gain more customers. But, if you are not doing it in a right way, it won’t be of any help.
Personalizing an email or providing something useful to the recipient is enough to make your email to stand out. But there are some other factors too that need to be taken care of. Else you will find that your marketing strategy will fail in a miserable way.
What exactly are those factors? A bad subject line for your email is one of them. It is one of the major components of your email and could be the reason for the success or failure of your campaign.
When you send out an email, it must have an impressive subject line. It must compel your recipient to open it without having any second thoughts. But what makes a subject line catchy? And what is the purpose of having a great subject line?
What is a “Subject Line”?
A subject line essentially is the text that speaks about the intent of the email sent. It is used to distinguish between the emails and sort them according to priority, It also tells the recipient about what the email is about and what he can expect from the sender after opening the mail. Depending upon the clarity and the appeal of the subject line, a user may or may not decide to engage with the email.
Why a good “Subject Line” is important?
Email is one of the most preferred marketing channels for most of the business. Thus, the inbox of any recipient generally gets cluttered with many emails of products promotion by multiple businesses. Even if the email lands in the inbox, the recipient may ignore them due to the total number of emails he receives all day long.
Thus, writing an appealing subject line that makes your email stand out from the others is essential. You must also remember that the subject line is the primary text that any recipient will notice. It will help them to decide whether to interact with you or not, before actually opening the email.
Below is the downside of using a poorly constructed subject line.
Here is a mail that I received from one of the brands who is selling car insurance to me. Now, look at the subject line and sender name. Sender name says Car Insurance and subject line speaks about car and bike.
It speaks about savings and security for car and bike but doesn’t specify any other details. The message doesn’t mention any deadline or an offer. It doesn’t even compel to take action or evoke any emotions. It doesn’t even say if it has to offer savings and security on my old vehicle too.
Moreover, if the sender keeps sending these irrelevant emails, the chances are high that it might land up in the spam folder or I might unsubscribe or click spam very soon.
But how do you make sure that the emails you send will have a higher probability of engaging your recipient? It should also not end up getting ignored, or land up in the spam folder. Check out below
Step by step insights to improve your open rates:
Audience and Goals
Identify your audience and set up a goal before you start sending emails to every subscriber you have. Else, a chunk of your mail will reach the inboxes of people who are least interested in your product/service. Thus you will be losing out on revenue even before you start! Bad isn’t it? But how do you know who are the right audience? Look at the following email I received a few days back.
The above email is from “PowerBox”. The sender wants to introduce a new Power Bank, which they have mentioned very clearly in the subject line. The audience selection is very precise too. The sender knows that I could be looking for a good power bank as I am most likely to use one or multiple mobile devices. So, there is a strong possibility that I will show interest in this product.
Now, check out the above subject line. First of all, the selection of the target audience is wrong. I may have subscribed to their email newsletter long back when I was a fresher, but currently, this is not relevant to me. If they send continuously send such email, I will mark them as spam or unsubscribe from their database.
Secondly, the subject line doesn’t specify the intent of the mail. The subject line gives an indication that the email has something to do with “Freshers jobs recruitment in 2017”, but doesn’t specify what the email contains. It might be so confusing that I may not decide not to open it at all, thus resulting in the failure of the campaign on the part of the sender.
Optimizing the word count
Don’t make the subject line too lengthy or too small. Lengthy subjects will not be able to convey your message clearly and leave the recipient confused. The short subject line will not speak about the content in a proper sense. Optimize your subject line length as per your audience behavior to get the most from your email campaigns.
If you look at the email from FlamingoTransworld, you will find that the subject line is short as well as to the point. There are no unnecessary words that increase the word count. So the email with these subject line has a higher chance of making an impression on the recipient.
Now compare the above subject line with that of Flamingo. You can see that the subject line is so lengthy that it has crossed the visual limit of the mail itself. So anyone looking at the email won’t understand what “Chance to make” or why are they missing out.
Check out this subject line too. This email actually makes no sense as it doesn’t send any message other than telling us about world disability day. So the meaning is completely lost on the recipient as they will not understand why the sender has sent the email in the first place, so the chances that they will open the email will reduce.
Invoking urgency or curiosity
Now that you have optimized your target audience and the length of your subject line, making them open on your email is the next big challenge. Most of the times, people either overlook an email or just postpone their decision about opening an email just because they want to wait for the “right time” to do so.
Among hundreds of emails that your subscriber might be receiving, it is your task to reach out to him and tell him that this is the right time. You can generate that feeling among your subscriber by including a few words which give your email the sense of urgency which appeals more to the subscriber and compels them to open the email sooner or later.
Look at the following images and tell me which one appeals to you more?
The above image speaks about some travel deal which will expire the same day, and the sender is offering it to you at $17 only. The image below speaks about a bigger offer – about a free vacation that you might win. Which email are you tempted to open?
I am sure, most of you will open the first one sooner than the second one. If you are planning a vacation, choosing between an offer that ends on the same day and checking out an offer which may or may not get you a free vacation is easy. The first email includes a phrase that invokes the sense of urgency which can be the ultimate push for the recipient to check out the email, which is missing in the second email.
When you receive an email, how do you know that it is an important communication from a trusted source, that you can interact with? We interact with any promotional mail mostly because of the value proposed by it. So when you strategize your own email campaign, make sure to include some value proposition in the subject line. Look at the following images to get a clearer idea of how value proposition changes the appeal of an email.
The email from Health Insurance Plan asks about which insurance plans will suit me. Now suppose I am looking for a health insurance plan. I will be researching about it on the internet for some good offers that will suit me. I will definitely be interested in opening an email that provides me with some good offer. But sending an email that asks me which Health Insurance plan suits me will definitely not arouse my curiosity. If I know which plan suits me I can buy it myself without interacting with anyone. So the value proposition is missing from the above image.
This email from Agoda has proposed a value to me. It says that if I book a hotel now then I have to pay half of the original cost. So, I might get really interested to check out where should I book a hotel to get half the charges waived off and open the mail. Even a small proposal can compel a recipient to actually open the mail to check out the offer, especially if they are looking for similar offers on the internet, but is yet to make up their mind.
When you write an email, especially after a certain period, personalization is always better. Do not address your subscriber as “dear subscriber”, or “dear user”. Take some time to write an email with the person’s name on it. It will make them feel that you care for them and want to send them something that you trust. Moreover, calling someone by his/her name always make them attentive towards you, or your email.
The email from eBay uses my name to inform me that I might be missing out on some finds. It will definitely force me to think about what are the finds, maybe even for a split second.
The “Target Gift Card” email says that “your name” has been selected but mentions no name at all. Immediately you will perceive that the email might be some kind of lure, which speaks about a gift card on your name but if it is so why does it not know your name. Eventually, people tend to avoid these kinds of emails.
So when you write your emails, don’t use these type of vague addressing to people as they will eventually lose trust in your brand and your email open rates will decrease.
Words and phrases that you should avoid
Even though your subject lines are stunning awesome with one or all the above points optimized for best engagement, the email service providers always have a hawk’s eye on all your activities all the time.
ESPs monitor the content all the time and filters them to give their users a better spam free email experience. So, if your email contains spam words, immediately the service providers get alerted and they push your emails into the spam folder.
So while writing an email, research well to weed out the probable spam words or phrases that might get you in trouble. The following example taken from my spam folder could help you to understand what the spam emails look like.
As you can see that the email has no specific reason to be in the spam folder. Still, somehow it landed in that folder. Of course, there could be other reason that could have resulted in putting the email in the spam folder automatically.
Since the ESPs are very secretive about the exact factors or reasons for considering an email as spam, you should maintain caution from your end. While writing a subject line, you must know about the spam keywords at least so that the chances that you’ll end up in spam folder reduces.
But what keyword are considered spam? Here is the list of keywords that you must avoid. Go through the list before you draft the content.
Emojis, emoticons & others
Using emojis and emoticons in the subject line is now a trend. But before you try to do something similar to it, you must remember that adding these elements may even backfire on you. If your subject line contains an emoticon which is not much relevant to the email, people will see it as a distraction and will not open the email.
This email from Foodpanda has an emoji in their subject line, the symbol is not clear enough. So the sentence read: “Please don’t go, we ___ you” where the ___ stands for the emoticon. The recipient will be confused about “we ‘what’ you”.
Flipkart, on the other hand, uses emoticons too. But after writing the word – “Top offers” they have inserted much more relevant icons of a few gift-wrapped boxes. Naturally, the trust and confidence of the recipient will be much more on seeing this email.
Similar things can happen if you use too many symbols or Capital letter. Look at the difference between the email with Capital letters and symbols in it, and the one without any of these.
This email might be really helpful but look at the subject line. It’s written in all capital. Gradually I will start staying away from these emails as the subject line looks cluttered in all capital text.
Now if you get another offer from another emailer, saying similar things but writing them in an eye-soothing manner, you might take a peep inside the email as your trust on the sender increases.
So refrain from any capitals or symbol that makes the subject line look cluttered. You must put forward your authority and trustworthiness in front of the subscriber to get better results.
When you send an email to your subscribers, you are actually communicating with them and the quality of any communication depends on the mutual trust, value addition, and getting personal.
Your email must engage them as much as possible to get maximum engagement. Otherwise, anything you send will end up in no-confidence from your subscriber, which calls for lesser open rates, and subscribers losing interest in you.
How did You optimize your open rates? Let me know in comments