Open or bust: Drawing the ‘subject line’ in the sand

hands working on a subject line for an email

‘Tis the season to get your email opened, or at least that is the goal.  The glory of email marketing is that it casts a wide net with minimal effort.  The downside is all of your competitors more than likely have the same idea.  The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that more than 205 billion emails are sent per day and found that an average employee spends 13 hours (roughly 28 percent of a week), reading and responding to email.

If you play your cards right, your email doesn’t have to get lost among the masses.  There are several ways to catch the eye of the recipient – from sender profiles to making sure it is fluid across all devices.  But the quickest, and most-surefire way, to get them to unwrap your content lies with one little line of text.  Introducing the carefully-crafted subject line.

Believe it or not, there is a science to that minimal amount of text that displays in the email queue.  In fact, 47% of email recipients decide whether or not to open an email based solely on the subject line. It can make all the difference between getting your email read and the email being dead (on arrival).  If you follow just a few of these tips, however, you will find your open rate going from zero to hero, in no time.

Play hard to get

The subject line should never be your dissertation for the email contents.  We get what you have in there is important stuff, but don’t give up all the goods right away.  Make them work for it a bit.  In this line of text, keep things simple.

Shorter is sweeter in this box.  Considering that 55 percent of email opens take place on mobile, the window of open opportunity is a small one to grab their attention.  If you really want people to see what you are delivering, keep these guys at a minimum.  According to a study by ReturnPath, subject lines with less than 49 characters generate 12.5 percent more opens that those of 50 characters or more.

Maintain a steady buzz

The golden rule of any marketing campaign is knowing your audience.  This also maintains its validity in the art of the subject line.  Make sure you are using words that appeal to that audience – buzzworthy, if you will.  Jargon is your friend.

Don’t tell people what the title of your pub is; they aren’t interested.  A study done by Adestra found that emails containing the word “newsletter” saw almost a 20 percent decrease in open rates.  The reader will know automatically as soon as they open the email – but you have to get them to do that.  Speak their language.

Keep things interesting

For the first time in your life, you don’t have to save the drama for your mama.  This a great place for that kind of thing.  Depending on the industry, recipients like the juice, the gossip, the low down … so give it to them.  From breaking news to challenging the audience, give them a reason to raise the brow and click open.

It is important to note, however, there is a fine “subject” line, when it comes to crafting in this fashion.  Certain industries have a tendency to respond better when the news swings in their favor.  While it might be enticing to outsiders, if it’s bad news, they might avoid reading altogether.  The old newsroom adage, if it bleeds it leads, might not have the same effect.  Approach this one with caution.

In the world of content inundation, it can be very easy to get lost in the noise.  Your email might be the greatest thing set to publish, but no will know unless you can get your subscribers to open it.  That little window could be the difference between a read and the delete button, so it is important that something in there strikes their fancy.

Not sure you have the expertise to create subject lines that get results? MultiView’s content marketing team can help.


And if you’re an association executive who needs assistance increasing your member newsletter readership, we have experts here who can help on that front, too!



MultiView Team Expert Julie Bernhard

Julie Bernhard

News Briefs Executive Editor



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