Subject Lines: The Deciding Factor
By Jim Brown, CMO Lead Scientist
Every day we get a seemingly endless amount of e-mail messages arriving in our in-box. Personal messages from family and friends, work related mail, and advertisers of all types vying for our attention. As we wade through the continual list of new information we have become quite astute in sorting and purging our e-mail in-box.
As a marketer, the “Sender” and “Subject Line” of your outbound e-mail message are the two items that will either get your e-mail read or deleted without a second thought.
The “Sender” must remain consistent with the entity responsible for the e-mail – meaning you and your company. Not only does it make sense to be honest with who you are, it is also mandated by the CAN SPAM Act that you provide valid contact information and physical address. There is no getting around this, and any ethical marketer would have no reason to hide this information in the first place. The point is, your recipient should know, and will know who is sending the e-mail, and the possibility of the email being deleted based on this is unavoidable.
The “Subject Line”, however, is the one piece of information you have complete control over and this is your opportunity to provide a compelling reason for the recipient to read your message.
Words to Avoid in the Subject Line
Internet service providers (ISPs) put spam filters into place long ago to limit the amount of spam and scam e-mails flooding their customer’s in-boxes. Words like “Free” and “No Cost” are just a couple of words that will put your e-mail into the spam box. Symbols like the dollar sign ($) and text-like abbreviations (4U) will be flagged as well. ISPs are also getting savvy enough to detect spaces and special characters in words, used to disguise the actual word. “F R E E”, “F*R*E*E” and “F-R-E-E” are good examples of what will still get flagged by spam filters. Here is a good, comprehensive list of spam trigger words.
Good Words for E-Mail Subject Lines
The goal of the subject line is to provide a compelling reason for the recipient to open and ready your message. “Coupon” is a good word to include in your subject line. I will often include a coupon in a client e-mail message with the subject line, “Acme October News and Coupon”. Then be sure to put the actual coupon at the bottom of the e-mail text, so the recipient scrolls though the e-mail before getting to the coupon they are looking for. Advertising an event is also a good way to get the e-mail opened and still get your message to the ready. “Acme Webinar This Week” provides enough information to capture the curious reader, but won’t be targeted as spam.
A poor subject line will get your message caught in spam filters and if it makes it through to the end recipient, will be deleted without a moments thought. Spend time on the subject line and craft it in a manner that is informative, honest and compelling. Time spent here will give you a much better chance of connecting to your customer.
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