Home > Email content, Subject line > Step one: open this email

Step one: open this email

When your subscribers receive an email from you, there are three actions they can take: open it, delete it, or, the dreaded non-action: allow it to languish in their inboxes for near-eternity. Your goal is to encourage them to open every email you send.

There are only two opportunities to encourage subscribers to open the email: the “From” line and the “Subject” line. It’s within these two fields where you can show subscribers that the email you’re sending them is valuable.

From line: If subscribers don’t recognize who the email is coming from, their suspicions are instantly raised. Ensure instant recognition by choosing a “From” name that is simple and familiar—this could be your company name, brand, or the name of someone associated with your business and easily recognized by your customers.

Subject line: Here’s your chance to be unique, useful, urgent, and user-specific. To be user-specific your list must be segmented properly. Instead of sending the same message to everyone on your list, try dividing it up by gender, age, location, date since last purchase, or by another category that is relevant to your business. Sending messages that are customized for certain categories will make the message itself more relevant, as well as allow you to write a more targeted subject line. Doing both of these things will increase the likelihood that your subscribers will open (and read) the email you send.

Here are 6 techniques to improve your subject line:

  1. Start strong: Since space is limited, focus on the first 45-50 characters. Brevity isn’t as important as putting the most important words first.
  2. Prioritize: People scan subject lines from left to right, so put your key offering right at the start. For example “Buy a new blender and save 50%” won’t be as effective as “50% off blenders”.
  3. Recognizable name: Include brand, product or newsletter name (if not used in the “From” line).
  4. Value: State a benefit from the reader’s point of view.
  5. Spark: Intrigue the reader and stimulate curiosity. For example “Top 5 Hotel Horror Stories” can be an effective way to drive traffic to your travel website.
  6. Call-to-action: Include a time-sensitive incentive to encourage subscribers to open the email and take an action.

Test these techniques by randomly dividing your list in half and sending a different subject line to both groups. You will learn about what motivates your audience with each test and your communications will improve.

For more on this topic, here’s a recent post featuring some fun, attention-grabbing subject lines. This article compares the best and worst subject lines produced by MailChimp users.

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