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Article Contributed by Kay Ackerman

Your carefully crafted marketing email won’t even have a chance to impact your mailing list unless it includes a well-crafted subject line. People are inundated with emails, and, even if they subscribed to your mailing list, they may not be interested in hearing much of what you have to say. The subject line is your one chance to convince people that it’s worth their time to open your email. Consider the following guidelines for the perfect subject line as you craft yours.

1) Make it clear and relevant: Generic and confusing subject lines don’t attract readers. Take a hard look at your email and craft a subject that clearly encompasses what’s in the email. Don’t leave your readers guessing what the email is about, because they’ll see it as junk. Don’t make readers guess who it’s from, either. The from portion of the subject line should contain a consistent brand identifier. Develop a consistent set of tags and choose one to enclose in brackets at the beginning of the subject line to indicate what type of email it is.

2) Include a call to action: People are responsive when you give them something to do. Come up with an actionable step and frame it in the subject line. This gives the person something tangible to respond to, in addition to a better awareness of what content they’ll find inside. Include a relevant deadline to put some urgency behind the action and increase the chance of having your email opened now rather than a week later.

3) Make it local: If location matters to your business, use relevant information about the user’s location in the subject line. For example, you may be opening a new store in Chicago, so send an email marketing campaign to subscribers, noting that it pertains specifically to the Windy City. This helps people see at a glance that the email is relevant to them.

4) Keep it short and sweet: Your subject line should never contain more than 50 characters. If it does, the last portion will be cut off, both on computers and mobile devices. In fact, data compiled by MailChimp suggests that the most successful subject lines contain between 28 and 39 characters. Make every word count, and cut anything that’s not adding to the message.

5) Be descriptive, not sales-focused: Although it sounds counterintuitive, you don’t want a sales-oriented subject, even when people know you’re trying to sell something. Rather than selling what’s in the email, just tell what’s in the email and leave it up to the reader to make the decision to buy what you’re offering. This makes your subject line clear without being pushy.

Within these general principles, keep in mind that every audience is different. People on your mailing list may respond better to some subject lines than others, so manage your email marketing campaigns to identify the most successful subject lines in terms of open rates and click-through rates. As you gather data about your mailing list, you’ll be able to fine-tune your approach to reach your audience with relevant, interesting subject lines.



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