‘How To’ Tuesday: How to write a great subject line for your email marketing

Source Bottle always has fully descriptive subject lines

So what makes a good subject line for an email? And more importantly – why should you care?

I’m a BIG believer of the power of email, which gets lost these days in the hype of social media. That’s not to say social media isn’t important, but you OWN your email database (or at least the permission to email them whilst they remain subscribed) and so you have much more control over when you speak to them.

So back to subject lines. These little puppies are the MOST IMPORTANT part of your email. Why? Because we are all so busy, all we do is SCAN our emails – and wait for something to grab our attention or we simply delete it. And when it comes to our email inbox, where we routinely get 50+ emails a day, we are very picky about what we read. And how do we decide what to read? The email subject line.

A scan of your own inbox will show you that a LOT of email subject lines tell you nothing about what’s in the email – the fatal flaw, in my opinion. The are either overly promotional, boring or completely uninformative.

A GOOD subject line is:

– Descriptive
– Enticing or intriguing
– Long enough to tell you something
– One that is appealing to YOUR target market

There is this odd perception with many people that “short is always good” in marketing – but in email subject lines, it can go either way. Some research says “the longer the better” and other research says “no difference“.

I have found that it’s much more about being relevant and interesting rather than long or short for the sake of it.

A good thing to remember is that an email subject line is your HEADLINE – so to help work out what works, consider what makes YOU read a news article…what “sucks you in” to read more?

A quick look at today’s Herald Sun (which has the highest readership in Victoria) has the following headlines:

‘Lance admits “tour drug use” to Oprah’

‘Scam takes punters on $800 ride’

‘Mum on drugs killed son, court told’

These headlines give you a lot of information in just a few words – and make you want to know more. You need to apply the same thinking to your email marketing.

Often you have more than one story to share – but don’t feel you can only mention one. Why? Because different stories appeal to different people.

A fantastic example of this is the SourceBottle emails that come out twice daily, matching marketers and business people with call outs from journalists and writers.

Here’s an example from a recent one:

“Personality types and health | New products to feature within TrailerBoat Magazine | How has motherhood changed you? | Small Business Pinterest Lovers | Unusual proposals, themed weddings, bizarre hook-ups | Back to school | Homework – agree/disagree”

A subject line this length – without knowing the context – would scare the pants off most marketers. Yet it’s perfect for this market. I ALWAYS check the subject line to see if there’s something relevant to me, and I must be one of many as their subscribers numbers are constantly growing.

A hard working subject line is worth the hard work it takes in coming up with it – don’t just write anything and hope for the best. You have likely spent many HOURS (or dollars) on your email content – so don’t throw it away with a barely considered subject line.

Put in the effort, test the results – and watch your email marketing performance improve.

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