Say this with me: Subject Line. 🙂
The subject line can be your best friend or your worst enemy. The most beautifully designed HTML direct email ad, packed with the best ad copy ever written is worth nothing if it is never seen. How much time do we spend designing the graphics or writing the copy for that direct email ad? Do we spend more time than that on our subject line? We should be!
The subject line is what causes the recipient to decide to open or trash your message. If you don’t intrigue or connect with your consumer’s interest when they look at that subject line, you are TOAST. Without a connection through your subject line, your email is a quick, simple click from never being seen. Most of us need to take more time to craft our subject lines, and to craft them specifically for the target audience we are reaching out to.
Here’s an example that is very common from my FrontGate Media experience with the Christian publishers, music labels, non-profits and others who are using our iTickets.com direct email database. The iTickets database has 400,000 double opt-in subscribers that you as the advertiser, can pull out by gender, age range, zip code, music preference and a few other categories. You give us your ad for iTickets. We send it to the audience you desire to reach. These subscribers are all coming into the database because of their ongoing interest to attend Christian conferences, concerts and events. iTickets.com is the #1 site for Christian events listings, and also for ticket sales for Christian events. These Christian subscribers want to know about your Christian stuff! However, very few of the subject lines that are turned in, even from the biggest players in our industry, make a direct reference to the subscriber’s Christianity. Sure the email comes from iTickets.com, a trusted and known Christian source for the viewer, but why wouldn’t you want to immediately connect to the subscriber’s faith. As a Christian, I get just as much email as the next guy. I am certainly more prone to open an email if it clearly, directly ties to my faith.
Subject lines also play a big part in whether or not your email ends up in the Spam folder, or worse yet, never gets there at all as it’s filtered out by a provider’s email server. Put a “$” in your subject, or FREE, or Buy, or any of thousands of other terms, and your hopeful reader will likely never even have a chance to decide if she wants to open your email. One of my favorite email marketing services, MobileStorm, has a great list of the Top 100 Words and Phrases to NEVER USE in your subject line.
Finally, it’s generally a good idea to come up with your subject line AFTER you’ve designed the ad. You’ll have everything you might want to say fresh in your mind after you’ve finished the ad. This sets us up with the info we need and usually makes it much easier to do as well!