Is The Subject Line Really That Important in an Email? Yes, and It’s Because…

on November 17, 2017

If your business is gearing up for the holiday shopping season, you’re probably prepping your email marketing messages. Email marketing works, especially during the holidays: In 2015, email marketing generated 25.1 percent of all Black Friday sales—more than any other type of marketing.

But as anyone with an email inbox knows, email frequency ramps up during the holidays, making it even harder than usual for your emails to stand out. How can you ensure your marketing emails get noticed—and opened? Here are five tips.

1. Keep it short.

According to the recent report Subject Line Benchmarks, which analyzed over 7 billion marketing emails, fewer than 5 percent of all email subject lines are under 21 characters. But these emails boast an open rate 31 percent higher than average.

In fact, the shorter, the better. Email subject lines with 10 or fewer characters account for less than 1 percent of all subject lines, the report found, but boast an open rate almost twice the average.

With most email marketers using lengthy subject lines, following the rule “When they go long, we go short” will definitely differentiate your business and make your email stand out in the inbox.

2. Get personal.

Only 2 percent of all emails in the Subject Line Benchmarks study used personalization in their subject lines. However, personalized emails were highly effective, with an open rate 50 percent above average.

Personalization means more than just putting the customer’s name in the subject line. It means delivering relevant, useful information or offers. For example, why not send personalized gift recommendations based on customers’ purchases from last year, or on their recent browsing behavior on your website?

You can even personalize the email address that you send your marketing emails from. Instead of sending emails from noreply@yourcompany.com (how robotic!), how about sending them from Steve@yourcompany.com (how friendly!). The name you choose can either be a real person at your company, or a persona you create.

3. Trigger a reaction.

Triggered emails — such as order acknowledgment or emails otherwise triggered by a customer’s actions — boast a higher than normal open rate. You probably already send transaction-related triggered emails, such as telling a customer when their order has shipped, but you can boost open rates by adding other types of triggers.

For example, you can send a triggered email if someone abandons a shopping cart, on a customer’s birthday or anniversary, if a product a customer frequently buys from you goes on sale, or if a customer writes a review of your business.

4. Time it right.

The timing of your email can be a deciding factor in whether it gets opened or deleted. Send your emails early enough so recipients can take action, but not so early that they forget. For instance, if your big sale starts tomorrow, send one email tonight (“Mark your calendar!), another one tomorrow (“Ready, set, shop: Up to 75% off starting now”) and a third shortly before it ends (“Only 3 more hours to save!”). Review your email analytics to see when your emails are most likely to get opened, and schedule the timing accordingly.

5. Test and test again.

A/B testing is one of the best ways to fine-tune your email subject lines. Test different wording, offers, and subject line lengths to see what gets the best results. You’ll find that small changes in subject lines can make a huge difference. Your email marketing software may have A/B testing functionality built in, or you can set it up manually by splitting your email list into two different lists. The more recipients you can include in the test, the better.

These five steps may seem small, but they can have a big effect on the success or failure of your holiday marketing emails.

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