Readers are rarely eager to open and read your emails.
Its actually just the opposite. What readers including you and me ARE eager to do is hit delete to as many emails as possible.
Call it self-preservation. Time management. Information (infiltration) overload. But its precisely what we do every time we open our inboxes.
So as an email marketer, what should you do?
If Write compelling subject lines is your first reaction, youd be spot on. And its the focus of a new Brunch & Learn on-demand webinar sponsored by Act-On, aptly titled Writing Effective Email Subject Lines.
Moderated by Direct Marketing IQs chief content officer, Ethan Boldt, and award-winning copywriter and author, Pat Friesen, the webinar is a to-the-point training session that doesnt disappoint: Combining a drilldown approach with an easy-to-grok presentation, the webinar covers a wealth of information, including:
- Research on todays email response trends.
- 13 best practices for writing winning subject lines (e.g., length, using numbers and special characters, power words, intrigue, and personalization).
- Tons of examples.
And in under 40 minutes, its fast-moving and immediately actionable. Here are a few nuggets youll learn.
Its hard out there for a subject line
For anyone with experience in the direct-(snail)mail industry, youve seen this before:
3 seconds over a trashcan. (Or a recycling bin, if you like.)
Thats the amount of time you have to grab a recipient’s attention before your painstakingly crafted mail gets unceremoniously chucked into the circular file.
And guess what? Its even more challenging with subject lines because more than half of todays email is first opened on a mobile device.
That means email subject lines are not only competing with other subject lines in the inbox, theyre also competing with a crowded sea of distractions and preoccupations that most of us regularly encounter when were out and about.
Friesen offers some tips and tricks to help your subject lines rise to the occasion and cut through the noise.
This should come as no surprise to anyone, least of all to marketers, no matter how much (or how little) experience they have with lobbing vernacular and testing the limits of persuasion.
But since data is always fun to see, heres one example discussed during the webinar, illustrating how subject line keywords perform when the objective is to convey benefits to the recipient:
Look closely and youre apt to gain a short list of a-has and hmms. Here are four that jumped out at me:
- Sale, Voucher, and New are top performers for getting your email opened, which comes as no surprise. But
- Getting an open doesnt bring home the bacon. Clicks do. (Or at least they serve to rev up the launch sequence.) And Free Delivery wins hands-down on that front, putting a decisive smackdown on Sale.
- Voucher (#2 for opens) nearly tops the list for unsubscribe rates. One could surmise that this is a tacit warning to marketers: if you offer a voucher, it best be for something good lest you suffer the wrath of a disappointed recipient.
- Most interesting to me is Latest, which tanks from an opens and clicks perspective, but is aces for stemming unsubscribe rates. It might be interesting to test “latest” on your deadwood lists to spur some reengagement.
Watch the webinar and Ethan will most likely point out other observations you dont yet see.
Test, test, test and dont assume (you know why)
Again, this should be no surprise but the sheer volume of subject line blunders tells a different tale.
Like everything in the digital age, six months can be the difference between newly minted and museum piece. Its no different with subject lines, particularly when the human-nature element (were so fickle) gets thrown into the soup. What works today may not work tomorrow.
Takeaway: the winning strategy for the long haul is testing.
Photo of Delete key on the A1243 Apple wired keyboard by Ervins Strauhmanis, used under a Creative Commons 2.0 license.