Until recently we believed email subject lines had a singular purpose – to get the email opened. But, over the past 12 months we’ve evolved that thinking and now see email subject lines as far more important. Jill explains why email subject lines have become a powerful marketing tool for A&E clients.
Discreet, yet powerful
Since the 1990s businesses have used email marketing as a way to engage an audience, cultivate relationships, drive visits to their site and increase revenue. Within this process the email subject line has always been considered important. Afterall, it’s the headline offer that encourages a reader to open, or alternatively to roll their eyes and hit unsubscribe.
The copywriters at A&E signed up to this way of thinking too, until recently. Then, through the auditing of client campaigns we noticed a shift in audience behaviour. We discovered that email subject lines are a discreet yet powerful marketing tool in their own right – and here’s why…
I have hundreds of emails arrive in my inbox each day – I’m sure you do too. Many are from businesses I’ve connected with in the past. And, whilst I don’t want to unsubscribe, I don’t have the time or inclination to go to the effort of opening and reading each email they send me either.
Take a moment to think about the businesses who email you. Then consider what you know about them. Are they running a promotion, have they launched a new service, or are they discounting for Black Friday?
If you didn’t open the last email they sent you, how do you know that?
The answer is the email subject line.
Email subject lines – your next powerful marketing tool
So, here’s our advice. Accept that the majority of recipients won’t open your email and begin to use the subject line as a micro marketing tool.
[This is not a cop out. In a recent blog we explained why email marketing is proven to be one of the most effective marketing tools available, especially for small business. Using email our client’s average excellent email open rates, with many achieving upwards of 45%. However, this still means that 55% don’t get opened, ever.]
Micro marketing gives you a chance to keep conversation open, and database contacts engaged – whether they open the email or not.
How should you write an email subject line?
To begin with, you should continue to apply established proven email copywriting practices:
- Explain the value – why should a reader open your email
- Avoid clickbait tactics – but still work hard to grab attention
- Address your customers’ individual worries, interests or needs
In our new model, which uses the email subject line as a standalone marketing communication, you should now also work hard to ensure that the subject line can function out of context from the email.
I’ll explain in a little more detail:
Traditionally, our copywriters followed the accepted marketing practice of holding back in the email subject line. Teasing at valuable information, but never giving everything away up front. This was accepted as a way to encourage a higher open rate.
But in the new model, when we’re using the email subject line as a micro marketing tool that stands alone from the email, this no longer works.
Instead, we pack the email subject line with our most compelling content, because we want as many eyes to see it as possible. Not just the % who click open. We also distil the email subject line to a maximum of 40 characters [that’s around 9 words]. This means we get to the point quickly, and don’t waste our readers’ time.
Stop chasing open rates, re-engage
Once we began to re-evaluate the way we used email subject lines for our clients, it felt like a whole new conversation could begin.
Now, the businesses we create email campaigns for can re-engage with huge segments of their audience. Instead of writing-off the subscribers who consistently don’t open emails, we accept non-open rates as part of the landscape. We use subject lines as a short, punchy way of saying something meaningful to as many database contacts as possible.
Open rates will always be a key measure of campaign success, but this new approach evolves evaluation for the next chapter and gives businesses and marketeers the opportunity to gain even greater value from email marketing investment.