the marketing automation blog

On the Subject of Emails

By: John Bell • No Comments

Subject of emailsIt’s nothing new: when sending emails to contacts, especially cold emails, you need to be at the very least to the point, catchy, and personal. A lot of focus is afforded to carrying out this task effectively and rightfully so. According to Ascend2 82% of us use email marketing, so it’s somewhat of popular of a popular tactic and standing out takes something rather special. If you can find that X factor well done, but unfortunately even if so, you might be missing something crucial – how do you get people to open the emails?

There’s more content to sift through than ever before so our memory of what we read five minutes ago is sparsely greater than that of a goldfish. We have all fallen victim to internet changing consumption habits to something where less is more; be it 140 character Tweets, 7 second Vines, or 10 second Snapchats. Rarely would 140 characters be something referred to as ‘creative freedom’, but considering best practice for email subject lines is to fall within 50 characters that’s exactly what it is in comparison. Subsequently, it is now the subject line that can make carefully crafted email bloom into a work of art.

Just because they read an email before doesn’t mean they will later

You may even be fooled into believing that less importance should be given to subject titles when sent to subscribers, after all, 77% of consumers are open to the idea of permission based marketing (Salesforce). Do not be lured into this false sense of security. Just because someone once clicked a button or gave you their email does not mean they will read the emails you send them. Treat every email like a cold one. They need to be opened, they’re going to compete with a torrent of multiple other emails, so don’t become complacent – the hard work isn’t over.

Equally, make sure that the hard work doesn’t cross the line into spam territory. Although filters have become increasingly intelligent, there is a list of terms (e.g. “free” and “win” etc.) that will trigger servers to reject emails automatically for depending on the strictness of their filtering policy. Even although at Webmecanik we use MailJet, which has the highest deliverability rate in Europe, that cannot save you. Make sure you check any future subject lines against such lists so you don’t fall at the first hurdle.

Outside of the subject line there are plenty of other things to consider which can affect delivery of an email; such as the message content (which can even be broken down to how many images, hyperlinks, and wording), the sender, and the infrastructure of the sender. There are so many aspects to consider that it requires its own blog article, but rest assured if you stumble at one hurdle the email will not reach its destination.

Think outside of the box, or be the best at staying inside it

Try to also take a minute to step back and actually break the rules. If everyone is following the same best practices, they become the norm and thus you need to do something different to stand out. For example, my pet hate is when every subject line is a question or lazily adds “, John?” at the end. Automation is great because you can add a contact’s name, but just because you do doesn’t make it personal. Break the mould and occasionally turn your nose up to the rules. So long as you’re sensible and don’t start declaring yourself a prince of country nobody has heard of you should be fine.

theEword email
When sticking with the accepted practices, take the example set from a recent newsletter I received from Sian English (@SianEnglish_) at theEword. The question posed (“John, what’s your biggest marketing challenge?”) is one of the most engaging I’ve ever come across, so much that I even found myself liking the “John,” at the start. The message tailored to potential prospects (after all, you need an agency if you have marketing problems), and keeping a friendly, non-sales-type vibe.

To try and get to something close to that standard, my approach tends to be taking 10 minutes to write different variations in a Word document. Nothing is barred from reaching the page, and I try to deliberately add some that meet the rules and some that break them, so after the time has elapsed there can be some rather weird creations. From there I take my favourite and adjust the wording slightly. That’s not to say this is ideal as it can sometimes become rather time consuming. I’m eager to hear any suggestions, and how you craft email subject lines; please email me to let me know.

About the author

Webmecanik account manager, professional beard grower, and mean Carbonara maker. Studying business management has taken me across most of Western Europe, yet I’ve still to find a room where I’m the smartest person there. A willingness to listen, learn, and contribute continues to shape my interactions with clients. If you promise to only laugh a little bit at my Scottish accent, I’m more than happy to help whenever you want.