I recently wrote an article about email strategies for bloggers. I’ve had a fair number of people contact me with questions about the email subject lines, which I had kind of glossed over.
So, I thought I’d put together a quick review of the whole business of writing subject lines that are effective at getting your emails opened.
Well, actually, let me change that.
You know, just about everybody that asks me about this topic, wants to know how to get their emails opened.
I was even going to name this article “Email Subject Lines That Will Boost Your Open Rates”.
But I changed it to simply “Email Subject Lines”.
It’s a bit troubling for me to work with people on their email series and they get all worked up about their open rates… even when they’re getting really good conversions on click-throughs and sales.
You Don’t Get Paid For “Opens”
You see, if your email list is designed to deliver buyers and clients, the open rate is not really what you should focus on.
Sure, it’s important to get your emails opened, and there’s lots of “tricks” to make that happen. But I’ve seen many a great “open rate” crash and burn in the ROI department.
That’s because you don’t get paid for “opens”. You only get paid when someone actually buys a product or hires you to perform a service. That’s what I call and end-game conversion. And it’s the only one that effects your ROI, or baseline profit.
Would You Open These?
That said, it’s obviously a good idea to get lots of folks to open your emails.
BUT… only if they want what you’re offering.
Say I want you to buy my 4-week e-course about herbal health remedies.
If you’re on my herbal remedies list, would you open these emails?
- Free herbal remedies
- Your account is in jeopardy
- Customer service request
- is this your credit card?
- I saw you on Facebook
- Are you still up?
These are actual email subject lines that I’ve seen people touting as having great open rates.
Can you guess why?
Because people like free, they don’t want their accounts in jeopardy and want to take immediate action to fix things, they want to know what Customer Service has for them, they’re anxious about somebody having their credit card, they think it’s cool you saw them on Facebook, and they’re wondering why YOU are up so late and what you want to tell them.
These are all baited messages geared strictly to achieve an open.
And they do.
And I repeat: You don’t get paid for “opens”.
When “Opens” Convert Into “Unsubscribes”
You have an email list to build trust.
Tricking people into opening your emails with subject headings like the ones I listed will increase your opens, but will probably increase your “unsubscribes” and even “report as spams”.
People don’t like being tricked, and it certainly is not the way to build the trust factor between you and them.
Many will unsubscribe from your list or report your mail as spam, others will simply become conditioned to ignoring your emails altogether as being gimmicky and lacking substance or benefit.
So What DOES Work?
Now that I’ve gone on about what doesn’t work, I’ll tell you what I think does.
1. Be transparent. Just let your readers know what you’re up to, and why you want them to open your message. If they choose not to open today, they open another one down the road.
2. Offer value. What will your reader benefit from opening your email? Will they learn something, will they get a laugh? Whatever it is, try to let them know what to expect in your subject line.
3. Be congruent. Make your subject line congruent with the body of your email. If your subject line says “get a free ebook”, then give them the link to it in the email. Don’t get them to open the message only to find out they have to buy something or sign up for something in order to get the free ebook.
Those are really the 3 main rules I like to use.
Now there are other things that email marketers like to argue about.
Some say to use short subject lines, especially since mobile feeds won’t show long ones, only part of them. Sounds like a good idea to me.
You always hear that you should avoid words like “free” “opportunity” “business” “profits” or “cash” among others. That will supposedly get your message sent to the spam folder. I think that’s changing, though, and if you’re a trusted sender with you list, those messages can get past the spam process. And they’re great words to use, so try it out and see what happens.
Question marks are supposed to be good because they are engaging, you’re never supposed to use all caps because they’re insulting and you should try to paint incomplete pictures like “I can’t believe I said this…” because people are just so curious to have the idea completed.
My strongest advice to you is something that marketers hate to hear, but I’m going to say it anyway because I’ve built up such strong trust and likeability that I’m sure you won’t bounce 🙂
My advice is this.
Test everything and anything.
Are question marks compelling? Do your readers love the word free? Do they respond to incomplete thoughts, personal stories, rants and raves?
All audiences are different.
Find out what yours is all about by testing with all sorts of headlines, assessing your various open rates, and MOSTLY… by seeing how many people actually click-through on your call to action, and complete the action… buy, sign-up or whatever.
Remember, you don’t win any prizes or earn any profits with opens. But it’s a start.