Everyone sends out mass emails and newsletters these days, but the problem is, most get zero response. Years ago, Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact, listed five important tips to writing effective subject lines in mass e-mails or newsletters. If you send out announcements, e-mail newsletters, or mass e-mails of any sort, they’re worth considering:
Getting the Subject Line Right
5 Tips for Writing Great Ones
- Keep it Short and Sweet — Do your best to keep your subject lines under 50 characters, including spaces, as most email clients display 50 characters or less. A recent study done by email monitoring company Return Path showed that, “subject lines with 49 or fewer characters had open rates 12.5 percent higher than for those with 50 or more,” and that, “click-through rates for subject lines with 49 or fewer characters were 75 percent higher than for those with 50 or more.” Want to have better open and click-through rates? Keep it short and sweet!
- Be Specific — A vague subject line is a waste of real estate. A great example of this that I see often is monthly newsletters with subject lines like, “The Green Thumb Newsletter: June 2007.” This tells the receiver nothing about what they will find when they open the email and gives them very little reason to do so. A better approach for a newsletter like this is, “The Green Thumb: 3 Tips for Summer Gardening.”
- Write it Last — Many email marketing services (including Constant Contact) prompt you to write your subject line first, as you are building your email. I encourage you to come back to it when you are done with your email content. It’s important to determine all the elements of your email first and then look for the most compelling topic to highlight in the subject line. When you are done with the body of your email, read it over and pick the “nugget” that will entice your readers to learn more by opening.
- Take Some Time — Don’t just dash off your subject lines. Considering how important they are, take some time to think about them and write several (3-4) before choosing which one to use. Once you have a few subject lines you like, run them by a friend or colleague and see which they think is most compelling.
- Test It! — When you have two strong—yet different—subject lines, test them. Split your list in half and use a different subject line for each group. After a number of tests like this, you will have a very good idea of what works for those on your list. And as always, the better you know your audience, the more effectively you can communicate with them.