As a busy marketer and mom, I can tell you that it takes a lot to capture my attention away from whatever my focus may be at the time. Last night after checking my personal email account, I quickly scanned a whole host of emails (50-60 at least.) Some of which, like Land's End and Borders I had requested. Others...not so much. And then there are the host of emails I receive as a result of having two pre-teen daughters that love to shop. I guess this is their way of tipping Santa off on their wish lists and I guess I can't fault the sender if someone else opted me in. However, there were many that had compelling enough email subject lines or offers that I kept them on file for my holiday shopping.
As I quickly scanned the email subject lines and sender addresses, I was quickly able to determine the keepers. Retailers and marketers-take note! With information, offers, and messages everywhere we look, it is critical to capture attention on that very first shot. Without a second thought, while on my phone, I simply deleted the emails that weren't compelling enough to capture my attention in that subject line.
As I was later doing some research, the action registered with me as to how very important a subject line can be. Having been an email marketer myself for over ten years now, I have certainly pored over my share of subject lines, email content and design. However, looking at it from the perspective of a recipient starved for time and searching for compelling-well, I can tell you I will even think twice about my subject lines. Here are a few quick stats...
- 38 to 47 characters is the average number of characters that show up in the subject line of 57% of all U.S. email recipients' email programs. -Epsilon (2009)
- 25% of marketers rated Subject line tests "very effective". - MarketingSherpa "2009 Email Marketing Benchmark Guide" (Oct 2008)
- Emails with shorter subject lines significantly outperformed emails with longer subject lines. - MailerMailer (2008)
- Emails that had only the subject line personalized (12.4% Open Rate & 1.7% CTR) did worse than those with no personalization at all (13.5% Open Rate & 2.7% CTR). - MailerMailer (2008)
Want to capture attention with your email subject line? Here are a couple of quick tips...
1. Make it compelling
2. Keep it simple
3. Mention your offer without sounding spamish (Words like "free" or "sale", Characters like "!" or "$")
4. Keep it between 30-50 characters
5. Know your audience...and speak to them
Still torn on what to say? Try testing two subject line variations and then send your mailing to the winning subject line. A/B or Split Testing can help you do this in your emails. Marketers often test variations in design or copy, but many overlook the need to test subject lines. I guess you can think of it this way...
Poor Subject Line 1,000 emails sent=40-60% Ignored/Deleted
Good Subject Line 1,000 emails sent=20-30% Ignored/Deleted
Excellent Subject Line 1,000 emails sent=10-20% Ignored/Deleted
No science here, just pure experience in my own emails and seeing results for other campaigns. Subject lines are probably the most important piece of copy you will ever write-think smart and make it count!