How to Use Dynamic Subject Lines for Increased Engagement

It’s no secret that personalization can be a major game changer for your digital marketing strategy. While any incremental boost in click-through and open rates can be significant to your bottom line, personalization can result in double-digit improvements to performance.

Using personal details to engage subscribers can get you results like this:

  • Personalized promotional mailings had 29% higher unique open rates and 41% higher unique click rates than non-personalized mailings. Invesp
  • Brands that personalized promotional marketing emails had 27% higher unique click rates and 11% higher open rates than brands that did not — and more than double the transactional rates. Experian
  • 58% of all revenue has been tied to segmented, targeted and personalized emails. DMA.

Sure, personalization is a good thing. But how well are you implementing some of the more fundamental strategies? Whether you’re a newbie or a seasoned digital marketing expert, honing your skills at personalization strategies is sure to give your email marketing campaign some extra life.

Start with gaining a better understanding of dynamic subject lines — and how to leverage them. It’s one of the most fundamental ways to personalize campaigns.

What is a dynamic subject line?

First, a definition of a dynamic subject line for clarification.

As you know, you can make an ordinary subject line quite creative — testing variations to determine which one performs better.

However, a static subject line can have its limitations. Sure, you can get better results with one subject line over another.

With a dynamic subject line, you can send messages that are automatically tailored to match the interests or traits of your subscribers. Email marketing automation gives you that ability to target certain messages to specific audiences.

For instance, if you have an online athletic shoe store, you can set up dynamic subject lines that are specific to women who run marathons. Other dynamic subject lines could be targeted to men who play soccer, women who are into basketball, and men and women who regularly vacation in ski country.

You can easily see why someone who is passionate about long-distance running would be more likely to open an email about the Top 10 Women’s Running Shoes for 2019 than a one-size-fits-all email touting “athletic shoes $75 and under.”

While athletic shoes offer the ability to make clear distinctions with dynamic subject line groupings, you can identify numerous possibilities among B2B, B2C, educational and nonprofit categories.

Here are a few things to consider when developing groupings for subject lines:

  • How recently did the subject join your email list?
  • Where does the subscriber live?
  • What gender is the subscriber?
  • Is the subscriber in an entry-level position or a company executive?
  • What industry does the subscriber work in?
  • What type of content is the subscriber downloading?

Regularly devote some time to identifying the key trait differences among your audience. This practice can give you the ability to create personalized subject lines with a better chance of boosting open rates and engagement.

How dynamic subject lines work

If you already have email marketing automation software, you have the capability to implement dynamic subject lines into your campaigns. As you gather data about your subscribers through integrations with analytics, lead generation, and CRM platforms.

The following are some common steps for getting started:

Select fields

Determine the demographic fields you will use as part of your campaign. For example, you may choose one of the following:

  • Display Subject Line by Job Title
  • Display Subject Line by Gender
  • Display Subject Line by Location

Craft personalized content

When crafting your email message, consider using dynamic content sections to correspond with your dynamic subject lines. For example, the lead section could be switched out or rearranged to correspond with your targeted audience’s interests.

Going back to the example of the athletic shoe store, the lead section of your content could focus on the article about the Top 10 Women’s Running Shoes for 2019.

It would be incredibly frustrating for a subscriber to open your email only to have to search to find the relevant copy. The subscriber could quickly lose interest, delete your email and move on to something else.

Determine how many categories you will need to segment. Find out what works for you. It could be anywhere from three to five or more. It’s not necessary to go overboard with segmentation … a little can go a long way.

Always strive to develop to implement personalization when you can. It can be the key to gaining consistent results with your targeted audiences.

Select images

The right visuals also can contribute to positive results. Choose photography and illustrations that coincide with your content and that will resonate with each of your segmented audiences.

Populate contacts

After segmenting your audiences and creating relevant content, you can start importing contacts from your database using the selected values (i.e. job title, gender, location) in your platform’s demographic field.

Set up your dynamic subject lines

Using the selected fields, craft great subject lines to entice your subscribers to click.

However, stay focused on the audiences you segmented. The more relevant your dynamic subject lines are to the content that you developed for each audience segment, the more likely you are to engage them.

Test, test, test

As always, whenever you develop an email campaign, test your subject lines with a small segment to find out if the subject line is populating accurately.

Also, A/B testing — comparing the performance of two different dynamic subject lines for each segment — is another effective way to increase the likelihood of subscribers opening your email.

Using small groups, test two dynamic subject lines to find out which one gets more engagement. Move forward with the one that performs better.

Adjust your campaign accordingly. Maintaining this as a practice with your dynamic subject lines also can give you some critical insights on what works especially if you start seeing patterns emerging.

Other best practices for subject lines

In addition to using personalization as part of your email marketing strategy, use the following best practices to boost engagement.

Use a conversational tone.

When you’re trying to make a connection with your subscribers — actually engage them, avoid writing in a way that’s too formal. Don’t be stiff. Write in the same way that you would talk to a close friend.

Get to the point.

Your subject line should never be long-winded. No more than 5 to 6 words should be sufficient for getting the message across. Consider that many people are now opening your emails on mobile devices. In fact, the number of email opens on mobile devices have outpaced those on desktops.

Offer incentives.

With your subscribers scanning dozens, maybe even hundreds, of emails in a day, you need an extra edge to stand out. In addition to compelling content that’s highly relevant to your segmented audiences, offer incentives to encourage them to open your emails. These can include discounts, new industry research and similarly time-sensitive offers that compel subscribers to engage.

Start engaging more with dynamic subject lines

Your email marketing automation gives you the ability to realize significant gains in opens, click-throughs and other forms of engagement that can drive more sales.

At Delivra, we believe that achieving great results with dynamic subject lines and other forms of personalization should simple. Talk to us about our user-friendly email marketing automation software. We’re happy to show you around with a demo.

Contact us to learn more.

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