Your Email Campaign Subject Line: Effective or Too Salesy?

email-marketing-subject-lineYou’ve been working hard and spending much money on your email marketing campaign for months now, and your sales are still not improving. You are already frustrated. You ask yourself what could be the problem.

  • Is your marketing team targeting the wrong buyers?
  • Are you using the wrong tools?
  • Is your email content not interesting?
  • Do you have to invest more cash for the campaign?
  • Are your emails going to the spam folder?

You probably have a lot of speculations on your mind. And you might be coming up with the wrong conclusion if you haven’t asked yourself this simple question:

Is your subject line catchy enough to get customers to want to open your message?

Subject lines are powerful. No matter how amazing your email design is, if the subject line isn’t catchy, people won’t read its content. If it doesn’t excite them, your email will be ignored or worse, marked as spam. Creativity in your subject line is the key to capturing your subscribers’ attention.

A great email subject line can:

  • Help bolster your sales.
  • Catch buyers’ attention.
  • Get you more subscribers.
  • Inspire people to forward your emails to their friends/colleagues.
  • Establish your company’s commercial position in the marketplace.
  • Increase your email list.

What works:

  • Think about what your customers are thinking. In their mind, when they receive your email, they ask, “what can I benefit from it?”
  • The words “DISCOUNT”, “50% OFF”, and others can get you more clicks. Don’t hesitate to write those words in ALL CAPS. Note: Avoid the word “FREE” because it may get filtered and your message won’t be delivered.
  • Don’t forget to include exclamation points. You need to add a sense of excitement in your subject lines to catch the subscribers’ interest.
  • The subject line should summarize the content. It should be a preview of what you want them to buy.
  • Make it very short. The standard length is 30-50 characters. Anything longer than that is proven to gather lower click rates.
  • Subject lines in the question format are advised by the biggest players in the industry. These questions must be something that shoppers are wanting answered.
  • Take advantage of the latest trends. Use timely subjects, and topics that are currently being talked about in the industry.
  • Test, and test again. You have to determine what your subscribers are expecting to receive from you. It can be known only through testing.

What doesn’t work:

  • Don’t be cheap. Using unusual characters to trigger subscribers’ interest is a surefire way to turn them off.
  • Don’t be too salesy. Using numbers in every subject line of every email you send can result to subscribers’ loss of interest.
  • Don’t look scammy. Email recipients are generally afraid to open messages requesting for assistance.
  • Don’t be spammy. Don’t use your email campaign to send in non-stop messages about your products.
  • Don’t be deceptive: Using Re: and/or Fw: to give an impression that your email is a response to their inquiry or coming from their trusted colleague can seriously damage your company’s reputation.

New Gmail tabbed inbox can also hurt your email marketing campaign.

If you have religiously followed all tips and tricks above, and you’re still not seeing the impact of email marketing to your sales, the culprit could be the recent Gmail tabs format wherein primary, social, and promotional messages are automatically categorized by Google. This gives Gmail users more control on what emails to check and/or ignore.

To dos:

  1. Check your database. What percentage of your total email list is using Gmail accounts? This will give you an idea of how much impact you can expect from the tabbed inbox update.
  2. Ran a click rate analysis for your Gmail subscribers. See if there are changes on revenue based on your Gmail users. Compare current revenue versus last month’s earnings. Did it decline? Did it remain? Did it increase?
  3. Ask your Gmail subscribers to manually star or drag one of your emails to the primary tab so your next emails will not go to the promotional tab. Hope that your subscribers are not too lazy to do this, or offer something that would persuade them to do so.
  4. Take advantage of the update. If your subscribers are on the mood for online shopping, they can easily click the promotions tab to see what’s in store for them. It could be advantageous for you if you know how to power up your subject lines.
  5. Push your email marketing team to further improve your subject lines and content. The tabbed Gmail inbox is still in its early stage. Nobody knows if Google will change this new format in the future or keep it for good. So be more competitive, be more creative, and always look for ways to enhance your email campaigns.

Remember that subject lines are supposed to tease your subscribers into opening up your message and reading its entire content. So, keep it short and polite. Being too aggressive can scare off people and can even prompt them to click spam. You can use exclamation points and all caps, but not much, only on a few selected cases.

Written by: Shirley Tan


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