Subject Lines

Getting people to open an email, much like a door-to-door salesperson, is paramount to establishing an email communication relationship. The subject line is the “knock on the door” that either gets answered or it doesn’t. This is part two on making email communications more effective. For the first part, click here. When creating subject lines:

-Avoid words that trigger email for SPAM: Free, Sale, USING ALL CAPS, Lots of punctuation (#$%^@(*&). Do a quick search on Google for email SPAM triggers.

-Think “headline”– the more inviting, compelling and engaging, the more likely the open.

-Test subject lines – Send most of your list a subject line that worked well (control). Send the other “nth” of your list something different (test). Compare the open rates for both.

Email Design

Now that you have picked the right list, know that your email is getting to the inbox, and have written a GREAT subject line (a little “all caps” humor there), your email is open to be viewed. Did you know that people view emails for about 2.2 seconds on average? Then they are on to the next email or matter of importance. As in life, first impressions matter. To engage your reader:
-Don’t put a “hero shot” image at the top of your email that is as big as the screen. Very few people think to scroll down, so they will miss your message.
-Create immediate calls to action–to sell a product, show the product and put a big, bold “Buy Now” button right next to it – this will get people to click to your site (you are in the door). Put links on key words that will resonate with your audience – again, working to get that click to the site and resetting the clock.
-Images trump text. The brain processes visual more than 100X faster than words. Printed text has been around thousands of years; pictures – MILLIONS! The right mix of text and images is what sells.
-Colors matter – There are fear colors (red, yellow) and soothing colors (Blue, green). They can be mixed effectively.
-Use the right gutter as “save” opportunities. People exit pages, emails, etc. to the right. Place banners and calls to action here to get readers to click from the email to your site.


Last but not least, report and track any information to which you have access to continuously improve your email approach. Key metrics to monitor include:
-Deliverability - %/# to inbox, %/# to SPAM

-Open rates - % opened per number sent

-Click-through Rates (CTR) - which links are clicked on the emails - %,/# Conversion – %/# of people who clicked through to your site performed a desired call to action (CTA)

If you are just starting out, the first two items should be relatively easy with the right email delivery software. Measuring CTR and conversion will come with time.

This brief overview should provide key items for enhancing your email program. John Wanamaker once said, “I know that half of my advertising is wasted. The trouble is I don't know which half."  With digital marketing, it is more possible to create, review, monitor and refine over time. Email, in particular, provides a great opportunity to do so.