Why Are Subject Lines Important?

The average person receives a lot of emails every day. The Radicati Group said in a February 2017 report that it expects 269 billion business and consumer emails to be sent and received per day in 2017, with 3.7 billion email users worldwide.

Even when you eliminate the spam, that’s still a large number of emails hitting your users’ inboxes each day. Many of those messages will be of the transactional or notification variety, such as when someone makes a purchase or changes their password.

While notifications and transactional emails tend to have significantly higher open rates than newsletters and other commercial messages, it’s still important to pay close attention to the subject lines you use. After all, putting careful thought into the writing and design of the message inside doesn’t do much good if people don’t click to open it. That’s particularly true for notification emails that recipients didn’t necessarily ask for but which are designed to increase engagement, such as those “Your profile isn’t 100% complete” and “See who liked your post” kinds of messages.

Time To Get Started

Before you begin, take some time to review your user profile. Who are they? What are they likely doing when they receive your transactional or notification email? How do they feel at that moment? What will prompt them to open your message now, instead of one of many other unopened emails?

Keep the answers to those questions in mind as you read these 5 tips to help you write effective subject lines.

Personalization is key, but make sure it’s the right kind.

It’s standard operating practice these days to put someone’s name in the subject line, but there’s plenty of other information you can include. Just make sure you don’t overload the subject line.

Here are 7 ways you can insert personalization:

  1. Who they are (name insertion is key, but don’t stop there)
  2. Who they care about, such as friends and co-workers (such as the emails Facebook and LinkedIn send to you)
  3. What they did (not just purchases but also browsing and other activity)
  4. What they didn’t do (abandoning their online cart or not completing a profile)
  5. What others did in reaction to their activity (responses to status updates, or the number of reactions to a product review)
  6. What they have (account balances, or care or service instructions for a purchased product)
  7. Where they are (geolocation-based messaging, such as letting a customer know about a sale at their local store) For example: [FIRST NAME], [#] people replied to your comment – see what they said

Yes, you can use an emoji (or two), but remember the word “sparingly.”

An emoji can add a splash of fun to a subject line, especially if it’s something lighthearted, but you probably don’t want to use more than two emojis in a subject line. For example:
Wondering who commented on your review? 🤔

Just remember that emojis render differently across various email platforms, so make sure you double-check your choices with a resource like Emojipedia.

Be funny, or memorable, or just fun.

This is another potential minefield, but if you approach it the right way, your email could be the subject of a viral “Check out this great email I received” post on social media. At the very least, it can bump up your open rates.

If you’re not sure about turning your subject line into a mini stand-up routine, try making an impression with a memorable quote, fun fact, or pop culture reference. There are plenty of places online where you can find quotes and facts, and we assume you, or someone in your office, know a bit about pop culture.

For example: Dolphins still know each other 20 years later — don’t wait 20 years to reply to [USER NAME]’s post

Create a sense of urgency with a deadline.

You can let someone know that the items they’ve saved in their cart have low quantities on hand, or that those items will be cleared from their cart if they don’t purchase then by a certain date. Or that an offer they signed up for is about to expire. For example:

For example: Uh oh: Your cart will be empty – and lonely – if you don’t buy what’s in it by [DAY]

Try an old-fashioned straightforward approach.

If you feel like everyone else is trying really hard to stand out by shoving personalization, emojis, jokes, and deadlines into their subject lines (subscribing to your competitors’ services and using their apps can help you stay abreast of trends), maybe you should simply tell it like it is.

For example: Here’s your receipt for [ITEM] – thanks for your purchase!

Make A Great First Impression

Like all sorts of emails, email notification subject lines are important to get right. They’re the impression your user will have of your notification content and are a crucial step in driving activity and engagement with your app.

An effective notification subject line packs a lot of punch by capturing the essence of the information you’re delivering, as well as the action you want your user to take. Treat them as seriously as any other part of your app’s UX—not an afterthought. What are the most effective and creative email notification subject lines you’ve received from the apps you use? We’d love to see your examples. Tweet us or shoot us a note in our community slack channel.

Brent Sleeper

Back To School Subject Lines

It’s that time of year again! Summer is wrapping up and vacations are coming to an end but retail is just getting started. Back-to-school time for many retailers is just the start of their long holiday season ahead. With the extended holiday season and shoppers shopping as early as October, many retailers are using Back-to-School campaigns to test what works and what doesn’t in their email campaigns.

In fact, many retailers started as early as August 1st with their Back-to-School campaigns. Why not earlier? Because no one is thinking about school in July, they’re thinking about vacation and they don’t want summer to end. But when August rolls around, you can start to plant the seed with a drip campaign, for example.

Here are some examples of email subject lines that are sure to convert.

  1. Emails that show a sense of urgency tend to convert. According to behavioral psychologists, urgency tends to propel people into acting quickly and suspend reason, thus convert. As you can see in the SF Wine School, they sent out an email one week prior to the deadline of their promotion.
    Back to School subject lines - SFWineSchool
  2. Relevant messages tend to convert. Every industry and market segment is different and will respond differently to messaging. What might be relevant to some, might not work for others. That’s why we test subject lines. For example, BlueHost cleverly taps into their audience with a relevant message by pimping their web design services and pairing it with a generous discount.
    Back To School subject lines -Bluehost
  3. Discounts tend to convert because they’re beneficial to the recipient if relevant. For example, Expressionary not only uses “pencils down” as a relevant message but also ties in a discount in the subject line.
    Back To School subject lines -Expressionary

Do you have a Back-to-School email that you received that stood out? Tell us why in the comments below.

See you online!

Tracy @tracysestili

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Email Marketing News Digest

In this week’s issue, we look at a preview statistic from the 2013 DMA Tracking Study, the average company response time to complaint emails, reasons why consumers mark email as spam and ways to work that subject line!

Segmentation driving email…driving segmentation

One third of respondents in the 2013 DMA tracking study still feel that 20% or less of the emails they received were relevant – a clarion call to marketers to start doing more segmentation with their lists. Superficial personalization may well be falling out of favour, but subscribers appreciate emails that are properly customized to their preferences. The official 2013 DMA tracking study will be launched on October 17 and needless to say, we’ll definitely be looking forward to seeing the results.

News Byte: 59% of Companies Take More Than Eight Hours to Respond to Email Inquiries

When it comes to email enquiries, 59% of companies take more than 8 hours to respond, and 26.5% take 24 hours or more. Email remains the most common channel for complaining with 42% of respondents listing it as their preferred channel and 36% listing the phone. For comparison, the average Twitter response time is 4.6 hours. If you’re one of these companies that have a long lag time in responding to customers then it seems that automation may be the way to go.

Read about how US Airways has managed to raise customer satisfaction in the case study, or watch the video below.

Top Reasons Consumers Give For Marking Emails as Spam

Here’s a finding that would make most email marketers sit up and take notice: Reasons why subscribers mark your email as spam.


Four Approaches to Make Your Subject Lines Work Harder

Subject lines remain one of the main determinants on whether an email is opened. If subscribers can’t be bothered to click on your email, they can’t see your special enticing offer, which means the possibility of a sale is absolutely zero. Here are some ways to get your subject lines noticed.

  • Incorporate special characters like ✈
  • Personalization
  • Frontload subject lines with the most important information
  • Include Quick Action buttons from Gmail that allow subscribers to convert without opening your mail

Infographic: How Email Strategies are Changing

Email-Marketing-is-Changing_1000-640x2328 (1)