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Increase Email Marketing Response With More Powerful Subject Lines

So I have this spam filter, cleverly designed to recognize, weed out and capture emails from people I don’t know, selling me things I don’t want. Every day I get a report from spam central, showing me a list of the emails they tossed into my spam bucket, just in case there’s something in there I actually want to read. Sometimes there is. But the really fun part is reading the subject lines of all those rejected emails.  Here are some typical examples:

This is going to be huge!

It’s definitely worth it!

You’ll love this!

What these and most other subject lines have in common is their vagueness and ambiguity. They offer me an inexplicit promise of some unclear benefit, but give no clue as to their real purpose, what’s really in it for me, or even who they are. It’s also clear that they know nothing about me.

If part of your marketing strategy includes email blasts, don’t treat the subject line as a throwaway line. Like an invitation to a party, the subject line sets the mood, tone and content of your email message. It must attract the recipient’s attention while conveying the overall objective and offer a specific benefit with a call to action. It should also identify the sender, and be brief and to the point.

Best practices of writing great subject lines include personalizing it with the recipient’s name, including an offer and time frame, incorporating your company name, and avoiding the hyperbole and vagueness demonstrated by the subject lines referenced above.

When you realize the importance of your subject line and put some effort into crafting it, you’ll find that it’s a powerful way to increase the effectiveness of your email marketing.  Here are six simple guidelines:

1.  Purpose:  Don’t allow your subject line to dance around or obscure its reason for being. Give your recipients clear and immediate insight into your email’s content and how they can benefit from reading it. For example, if I was sending this blog in an email blast, the subject line might be: RSW Partners’ tips to writing more effective subject lines. This clearly conveys the content and purpose of my message and gives my subscriber an immediate understanding of its value to them. It also identifies who it is from, which brings us to . . .

2.  Incorporate Your Name:  Credible sources of information don’t hide who they are; they put their name up front. Conveying that you want your recipients to know who you are gives you credibility and believability. It also promotes and reinforces your brand while helping to keep you out of the spam bucket.

3.  Keep it short:  The ideal length is seven words or less. My example above is a little too long, so perhaps I would shorten it to this:  RSW Partners: Write more effective subject lines.  Substituting appropriate punctuation marks for words is a good way to help keep it short.

4.  Use strong keywords:  If you know your target market, you know what keywords are popular and relevant to your recipients. Use them, but use them wisely. Avoid the overused, spam-triggering words like “free,” “guaranteed” or “approved.” And in the name of all that is sacred, stay far away from excessive and unnecessary symbols like exclamation points. One is bad. Three is an abomination.

5.  Personalization:  Including the recipient’s name in the subject line can measurably increase your open rate.

6.  Include an offer:  Don’t bury the goodies in the email; if you’re offering a discount or other incentive put it up front in the subject line. And if you include a time limit your response rates will be even higher.

Like any advertising campaign, email marketing success can improve when you follow a few proven guidelines. Try these best practice suggestions to writing your subject lines and let us know how they worked for you.

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