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5 Subject Line Facts Revealed

Welcome back! Hopefully, you’ve read our last blog on debunking email marketing myths and now your curiosity is piqued. Chances are you’re realizing that email marketing is a bit of a black art mixed with data science and a lot of secret sauce. The inbox is a popular place and when it comes to figuring out your perfect email marketing formula, it can be rather tough.

There’s no denying the power wielded by a compelling subject line, but there’s a lot of conflicting info floating around that makes it hard to tell fact from fiction. We all know our challenge starts with getting noticed, but decoding smoke and mirrors is anything but easy. Now I know that savvy marketers don’t appreciate having the wool pulled over their eyes, so stick with me as I reveal the top 5 subject line lies.

  1. Subject lines have the biggest impact on open rates.

We’ve heard this one time and time again. So we spend a little too long crafting the ultimate, show-stopping subject line to skyrocket our open rates. But the truth is getting opened comes down to a lot more than the muscle in your subject line. When someone invites you into their inbox, it’s the start of your beautiful permission-based relationship between someone you sort of know.

When it comes to building trust, it starts with your sender name. After all, people scan their inboxes first for emails from people they know. Think of it like the inner circle. And before deciding whether to click or flick, they want to know who’s writing to them. So remember to get this first step right and give some thought to carefully choosing your from name.  

 

  1. Subject lines only make an impact on open rates.

This one comes as a bit of a shocker usually, so we’ll rip it off fast like a Band-Aid.  Subject lines pack enough power to affect metrics all the way down to conversions. And here’s why. The precious subject line is responsible for setting reader expectations. When the alignment is off between subject lines and email content or landing pages, it can cause a lot of damage.

Let’s imagine, there’s a 50% sale off of pants. Yipee! But the subject line states in no uncertain terms, “This sale will change your life!”. Wow, that’s a big promise. But today’s readers possess a healthy amount of scepticism, so this expectation might be a touch unrealistic. Unless those pants are going to make you look like Kim Kardashian, they’re probably not going to be all that life-altering. So when it comes to crafting the perfect subject line, go for interesting and honest with a healthy infusion of personality.

 

  1. Don’t say free in your subject line. Ever.

This myth dates back to a time where email filters were as basic as the first cell phone. Weighing in at 4.4 lbs, it’s a toss up between a phone and a dumbbell. Fortunately, those days are long behind us and email filters are more sophisticated than ever. Capitalization and words like free, save and discount isn’t going to get you thrown in the sin bin automatically. People love a good sale just as much as they love a cuddly puppy, so if it’s really free don’t be afraid to scream it from the subject line.

Free Subject Line Tips

  1. Shorter subject lines pack more power.

The less is more theory only applies to donuts and hair gel. Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against short subject lines. They’ve never done any wrong by me. But when I see an email that reads “Book now” the chances of me opening it sit lower than a pair Justin Bieber’s jeans. Super short subject lines often trade brevity for clarity and can end up missing getting the point across.

The great debate about the ideal subject line length continues. Research shows that 61-70 character subject lines had a better open rate, but now that we’re catching our readers on the go it’s important to be mindful of the 33 character cut off for most mobile devices. The best advice here I can offer is to experiment with subject lines of varying lengths to find out what your audience responds best to.

  1. If the email isn’t opened, it’s an epic failure.

If a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it, did it really fall? Well, I’m not sure because I’m not actually in the forest right now, but when it comes to email marketing a lot of us think the same way. We tend to adopt a very black-and-white approach to defining success and it starts with measuring our open rates. But what about the 50 shades of grey hanging out in between black and white?

If your email didn’t make the grade when it comes to opens, it doesn’t mean it fell silently on deaf ears. Sometimes showing up can be all it takes. Think of it like subliminal messaging or product placement in television. Dropping a hint can be more effective than you realize. Did you know that more than one-third of consumers say they’ve visited a store or website simply because they received a brand email, but didn’t actually open it? Go figure.  

We’ve covered everything from the copy to the ideal length to the overall impact of a good subject line. I hope I’ve blown your mind with these little truths. With great power, comes great responsibility… and hopefully great success. When it comes time to craft your next email marketing subject line, I hope you’ll knock it out of the park and unleash the true power of your next subject line.

Do you know anyone who has fallen victim from these subject line myths? Show them the light and share this article!

Jess Pantalleresco
Author

Jess Pantalleresco

A sea otter lover, creative writer, and cheese board connoisseur, Jess is a digital marketer with a background in online media and digital publishing. Outside of work, Jess enjoys travelling and all things breakfast food. Find her on Twitter here @j_pantalleresco.

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