subject lines for newsletters, mission suite

How to Write Email Subject Lines So Your E-Newsletters Will Be Read

The average American sees over 3000 advertisements in a day, 147 emails, and deletes 71 of those emails in just 5 minutes. Writing great subject lines for newsletters is the only way that you’re going to escape your emails being deleted or being pushed to the junk folder.

There are plenty of ways to write great subject lines for newsletters. Honestly, there’s no way to write a simple formula that will insure your emails get opened. A lot of it will depend on your industry, your target audience and who you’re targeting in those companies.

So where should we start in creating great subject lines for newsletters?

You can always just start by writing up a few subject lines and seeing how they perform. If you’re in a crunch and just want to get something going then that may be the best way to start. That said, if you’re going to be doing any email marketing, you’ll want to put some prep work into it.

Here’s are the key things that we focus on when we’re trying to write great subject lines for newsletters that we’re sending out.

Know exactly who you’re targeting

Targeting is always the first step of any campaigning that you do. When you’re writing subject lines for newsletters you’re going to send out, youmake sure to go through the process. It will help you get your emails read.

The process of targeting is worth an entirely different article but at a high level, this is what I’d recommend:

  1. Narrow down your target market.
    • What industries are your clients in?
    • How big are they?
    • What are the common problems that they’re having that you can solve?
  2. Build a profile or avatar for the exact person who will be getting your emails.
    • Who is the person inside of your client industry that you’re trying to target?
    • What is their role in the company?
    • What do they have in common?
    • How do they make decisions?

Ideally, you’ll want to identify this information for each segment that you target. If you target five different industries and three different people inside each industry, you’ll have eight segments. And eight avatars.

Personalize your subject lines

A study by MarketingSherpa Blog found that personalized subject lines for newsletters had a 5% higher open rate and a 17% higher click-through rate than those that weren’t personalized. Use your marketing software to discover what your audience cares about. Using the recipients’ names did not increase open rates, but a city or a cause that mattered to them did.

In a Forbes article, Chief Marketing Officer of Xerox Christa Carone found that changing the subject lines on their email campaign to a personalized statement upped their open rate 40%, well above industry average.

Create a sense of urgency with your subject line

The subject lines for your newsletters should have a realistic sense of urgency. Keep in mind, though, that customers are savvy and suspicious of advertising. They’ll delete any email that sounds disingenuous, desperate, or just plain false.

Here are some key things to think about when you’re trying to create a sense of urgency for your subject lines.

  • Give it a timeline. Add a date or an expiration date to your emails so that people know that there’s a reason to open them when they receive them. Pro Tip: Adding a sense of urgency to your subject lines only works if it’s legit. Don’t make up false urgency just for opens.
  • Use statistics. Make sure that they’re relevant to the content of your email but, if you can use them, statistics can make for really powerful subject lines. They do a great job at piquing interest but again, make sure they fit with the rest of the newsletter.
  • Ask a question. At this point, you should know enough about your avatar to know what’s on their mind. If you can ask a question in the subject line for your newsletters that connects with them, your open rates will go up.

Make the subject line of your newsletter useful

Your subject line should be indicative of what your user is going o read in the email itself. Whatever tactics you use to write the subject lines for newsletters you’re sending out, make sure that you’re not pulling a bait and switch. Your emails may get opened but they’ll be trashed moments later.

MarketingSherpa’s Blog published findings that subject headings that were so creative that they obscured the point of the email were not successful. In a creativity versus clarity study, clear, short, subject lines were opened 541% more than creative, short subject lines.

“Help” Lines Don’t Work

A study of 5 million emails by Boomerang for Google found that subject lines containing synonyms for ‘help’ reduced open rates; other studies have confirmed that readers are suspicious of emails that request money or assistance up front. Unless you’re actually a Nigerian prince exiled to a desert island, don’t bother.

If you’re a nonprofit, your issue may deserve all the help you ask for, but think of the subject line as the greeting to your contacts. When you first meet someone, do you say, “Hello, I work for a non-profit, give me money”? A better subject line to an email asking for help is to entice the reader to become interested in the topic, segue to a call to action, and then explain how to help or donate with a graphical link in the body of the email.

Remember to test your work

Like I said earlier in this article, you’ve gotta start somewhere. Once you’ve got an idea for your subject lines, test it out and see how it works. To do so, you’ll need the ability to track email opens and click through rates. Remember that a good subject line not only gets the email opened but it also increases click throughs because people know what they’re opening.

A/B Test the subject lines you’re using on your newsletters

Try writing up two different subject lines for the same email. Send half of your list one of them and the other half the second to see which one gets opened. After a few tests like this, you’ll see a pattern emerge and be able to identify what kind of subject lines work best for your newsletters.

Mission Suite’s Campaign Optimizer can even test up to five variations of the email you’re sending to your list. It’ll read the results for you and automatically select the one that performs best.

Back to you

Repeated tests have shown that the optimum subject line length is 15-35 characters, including spaces; the shorter the better. The average working adult receives over 100 emails a day, and your recipients take only a few seconds to scan the subject so they may deduce the point of your email quickly. Be brief and to the point.

If you’re ready to up your email marketing game and get your emails opened, check out a demo of Mission Suite.

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