Measurement & Instrumentation


What's the best email subject line you've ever seen?

by Austin Pullmann 23 May 2012
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Or rather, what is an example of a subject line you simply could not resist opening? I can think of a few – “How you can do what xx did”, or “Does this version work for you?”. Sometimes no subject line is the most effective of all.

The airlines could stand to improve at this. I’m subscribed to perhaps every domestic airline’s email list, and the emails (judging by subject line) have virtually nothing to say. Subject lines consist of “Austin, check out these great offers”, or “Take advantage of our (insert month) sale”. The airlines must also get data from the same source on the best time/days to launch an email, since they tend to dump into my inbox at roughly the same time.

In an effort to uptick open rates and increase email campaign effectiveness, here are 3 tips:

  1. Spike curiosity – This can be achieved in a number of ways. Introducing an incomplete thought that can only be completed by opening the email is very effective. For example, “Do you believe it?” virtually requires a reader to open it and learn more.
  2. Get to the point – Every word chosen either adds or detracts from the message. Limit subject lines to 50 characters or less, and ideally just 4-5 words maximum. The goal of the subject line is to get the reader to open the message. Once that’s been accomplished, the message itself can convey your objective.
  3. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot – There are certain terms that recipients are reluctant to open (such as “Free!”, or “Reminder”, or “Help”). Even worse, some terms are set to be blocked by spam filters. Choose wording that will grab the reader and entice them to open the message.

Use these tips in your next email campaign and compare the results with previous campaigns.  Post tips of your own if I'm missing anything critical!

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