5 Subject Line Tips You Can't Ignore for Business Email Marketing

When designing a business email marketing campaign, much attention is given to the text and graphics on the inside. You may have brilliant content, actionable links, and emotive pictures that will surely get recipients to click and buy. However, if the person never opens the email, it does not matter how wonderful the direct mail piece is.

It all comes down to the subject line and how effective it is at grabbing attention and making the person who sees it open up the mail. Unfortunately, that might sound easier than it actually is. Writing those five or six words can be quite a challenge.

The subject line for a business email marketing campaign is like the sign on the front of your business. According to Convince and Convert, one-third of people who receive email marketing only open one because of the subject line. Because the average person receives dozens if not hundreds of emails every day, figuring out how to stand out in the sea of others can give the most seasoned marketer headache.

The subject line of an email is very similar to a phrase on a billboard, headline on a website, motto in a radio commercial, or title on a magazine article. All of these things share the same main goal: attract attention and convince someone to take action.

After years of experience and tests between different subject lines for direct mail marketing campaigns, these five tips have risen to the top of the recommendation pile for anyone interested in business email marketing. They can help you create subject lines for any type of campaign. Get inspired, do your research, and use these tips to improve open, response, and conversion rates.

Tip #1 – Put the Point Front and Center

Everyone has a friend, family member, or coworker who loves to hear the sound of his or her own voice. They tell stories, give recommendations, and share ideas in a rambling fashion that leaves you wondering, "When are they going to get to the point?" Chances are, by the time their monologue gets to the important part, you will have lost all interest and have moved on to something else. Email subject lines can suffer from the same problem.

Very few people are going to open an email with a long subject line that does not reveal what they will find inside. People may have hundreds of emails to sort through every day and they are not going to open every one. Subject-specific, important, enticing, and actionable words should populate every subject line you write. The closer these power words are to the front of the subject, the more effective they are.

Consider this example. A bank sends an email direct marketing contact to their credit card account holders. One set of emails is sent out with the subject line: "Click here to learn how you can earn bonus points." Another set uses this one: "Earn 5000 bonus points today." Recipients will be much more interested in the one that tells them they're going to earn a lot of points right away.

Tip #2 – Start With a Question

Many people consider a good listener to be the best communicator at any gathering. They ask questions and express interest in others instead of babbling on about themselves. People naturally enjoy talking about themselves and questions give them the opportunity to share and be important. An email subject line that asks a question creates curiosity and triggers a response in the recipient. With email, that response is not the direct answer. Instead, it is a click through.

Tip #3 – Mix Numbers With the Words

Not only does a number break up a string of words in a casual and eye-catching way, people find subject lines with them in it easier to read and more relatable. After all, a list is usually simpler to understand than large blocks of text. A subject line such as "10 Tips for Higher Direct Marketing Conversion Rates" tells the recipient exactly what they're going to get and that the information will be delivered in convenient bite-sized chunks.

Besides lists, numbers can be used for time, money, and statistics in enticing ways. For example, "3 Days Only – 75% of Homeowners Save $5000 or More."

Tip #4 – Add a Personal Touch

No one likes to be forgotten or thought of as just one number in a long list. With the decrease in the personalization of everything from banking to education, business email marketing needs to work harder to make subject lines personal. People expect general statements that could pertain to anyone. What they really want is a business sending an email specifically to them.

Experian reports that people are 26% more likely to click on an email subject line that is personalized in some way. There are programs that insert person's name the matter how large your email direct mail list is. At least, use "you" and "your" to make it seem like you are speaking directly to the person. Also, avoid using nicknames like "friend," "buddy," or, worst of all, something overly familiar like "dear."

Tip #5 – Include Fun Word Choices

Those literary devices you learned in English class are not just for novels and poetry. Fun word choices that use rhyme, alliteration or a humorous pun not only attract people's attention but creates a positive feeling associated with opening the email. Although not everyone sense of humor is the same, a bit of playful word choice works. In comparison tests, a subject line that uses one of these options beat a more mundane and one by approximately 35%.

There you have it. These five tips for business email marketing subject lines will help you create campaigns with higher open and conversion rates than ever before. Subject lines are the signposts that let consumers or B2B contacts know what you have to offer and if they should be interested or not.

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