Wednesday, October 14, 2009

7 "subject line" blunders you may be making

Want more people to open your emails? Pay more attention to the subject line.

It’s your headline, the scene-setter, the call to action that should grab your target's attention and create credibility and excitement at the same time.

In a new article posted at, email expert Wendy Roth reveals how to get your subject line working harder for you. “Sending an email message with a lacklustre subject line is like building a house without a front door,” she writes. “Maybe your recipients will walk around the house to find a back door, or try to crawl through a window. More likely, they'll just shrug and walk away.”

Roth, senior manager of training services for Lyris, Inc., a pioneer in email and online marketing, says that everyone now gets more email than ever, so your messages have to work harder than ever to stand out.

Here is Roth's list of the 7 most common blunders marketers make when crafting subject lines.
1. Personalization run amok: When you use names in your database to ”personalize” emails, you run the risk of offending people or turning them off. They might not use that name regularly, or it might be a pseudonym. “Write meaningful subject lines that speak to their interests instead of slapping a name on another boring subject line,” says Roth.

2. No "oomph" to the urgency: State a time limit in your subject line if your offer has one.

3. Call-to-action is MIA: “Always tell the reader what you want him or her to do. The call-to-action doesn't have to be "Buy Now." It's the hook that will persuade the reader to act: an incentive, an urgency reminder, a price, a store opening.”
4. Call-to-action amputation: Assume most inboxes will cut off subject lines at 60 to 70 characters. Make sure your critical information appears in that space.

5. "Same-old, same-old" syndrome: When you publish regularly, a standing headline (e.g., “News from Gocter & Pramble”) might save you a few minutes, but it doesn't give readers a reason to look further. Use your top story or best offer to create the subject line.

6. Funky punctuation: Use punctuation sparingly in subject lines. It confuses more often than it clarifies.

7. Cryptic subjects: Recent real-life example: "NEW: Samsung 23" LCD $199... Sony 40" 1080p HDTV $749...Core 2 Duo Laptop w/ HD Graphics $579 & More New Deals" “You shouldn't have to know geek speak to understand what's going on," says Roth. "Focus on a key deal or two in your subject line and include more detail.”

To fix these problems forever, take advantage of email’s flexibility for research. Test different offers, different subject lines, different approaches. It takes only moments to fine-tune your emails, offers and subject lines to test different approaches with every mailing. The response from your list will let you know if you're on the right track.

1 comment:

Marsh said...

'' Personalization run amok''is great point!Small business entrepreneurs can't go without online marketing...a great movie I watch-''The YES Movie'', it gathers some famous business people share their secrets of created by Louis Lautman.