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The Secret to Writing Email Subject Lines by wuyunyi


									                           The Secret Subject-Line Formula

       A few simple lessons on how to write more effective e-mail subject lines
                              from KPS|3 Marketing

There’s no doubt that e-mail can be a very effective means of distributing your message
– that is, if it’s ever opened by the recipient. With a widespread hatred for spam
and new anti-spam laws cropping up – like the CAN-SPAM Act of 2003 – it’s more
important than ever to know how to write the most strategic subject lines possible to get
your message read and not end up in a virtual trash can.

A recent study by MailChimp, an e-mail blast service provider, analyzed the open rates
for more than 200 million e-mails. The rates ranged from an amazing 93% to a dismal
0.5%. Although other factors, such as the frequency and sender, affected the open rates,
the subject line and implied nature of the message was the major influencing factor of
whether or not an e-mail was opened.

So what’s the secret subject-line formula that gets e-mails opened? It may sound a little
simplistic, but your subject line should…describe the subject of your e-mail. The truth
is, most e-mail subject lines are vague, “salesy” or just plain cheesy, resulting in the
sender’s message never getting noticed. Consumers are more and more in control of the
messaging they receive, and they’ll reject your e-mail if they feel like they are about to
be burdened with a worthless message. If the subject line makes them unsure of what
they’ll be getting, they’ll delete it immediately.

The best e-mail subject lines are short, descriptive, specific and provide the recipient
with a reason to explore your message further. Attempts to make your message stand out
in the inbox by using splashy or seemingly clever wording will most likely result in your
e-mail being ignored and deleted.

In addition to keeping your subject lines simple and to the point, here are some more
tips on how to master the secret subject-line formula and increase open rates.

Three Words to Avoid: An unexpected discovery in the MailChimp study analysis was
the negative impact of three innocent words. E-mail marketers are familiar with words
such as “free” which are generally to be avoided in e-mails since they tend to trigger
spam filters.

                                                           Marketing | Communicating | Thinking
They identified innocuous words that won’t trigger a spam filter, but will negatively
affect your open rates. They are: Help, Percent Off and Reminder.

Localization, not Personalization: Another finding is that personalization, such as
including a recipient’s first name or last name, does not significantly improve open
rates. For regional or national distribution, providing localization, such as including
a city name, does help.

Newsletter Half Life: Newsletters tend to start with high open rates, but all
experience some reduction in time. The challenge to the sender is to keep the
content fresh. Repeating the exact same subject line for each e-mail accelerates
the drop in open rates. While it is important to establish continuity and branding of
certain e-mails, such as newsletters, ideally each new campaign should provide a
clear indication in the subject line of what is inside this e-mail that is specifically of

Subject Line Length: The general rule of thumb in e-mail marketing is to keep
your subject line to 50 characters or less. The exception was for highly targeted
audiences where the reader appreciated the additional information in the subject
line. So unless you’re sending to a highly specified audience, keep those line lengths
short and sweet.

The From Line: The “from” information can be as important as the subject line. As
a best practice, the “from” and subject line should work in tandem. The “from” line
should communicate who you are as the sender. As much as possible this entry
should not change and should concisely convey who you are. Save any funny
phrases or concepts for the subject line, if appropriate.

Promotional E-mails: By their very nature, promotional e-mails tend to not perform
as well as e-mails where the reader has a high level of emotional affinity or expects
valuable and timely information. Within the category of promotional e-mails, the
same basic rules apply. Keep the message straightforward and avoid using splashy
promotional phrases, over use of capitalizations or exclamation marks in your
subject lines. Also, subject lines framed as questions can often perform better.

List Quality & Frequency: Two additional factors that are difficult to track but can
have a big impact on open rates are list quality and frequency. E-mail marketers that
build high-quality lists where readers know what they are going to receive enjoy the
best open rates. If you start with a good list but send too frequently, open rates drop

                                                            Marketing | Communicating | Thinking
The moral of the story, again, is simple: Describe the content of the e-mail. Trying to
cleverly cajole your recipient into opening the e-mail will have a low success rate.
Provide relevant content, and be straightforward about what they can expect to receive.

What can KPS|3 Marketing do for you and your e-mail marketing?
By simply reading this, you already know more about writing effective subject lines
and increasing open rates of your marketing e-mails than many of your colleagues and
competitors. The art of marketing and communicating, however, is an ever-changing
environment and KPS|3 is constantly working to keep you and your company up-to-date
on the best techniques and practices.

KPS|3 Marketing can assist in not only the writing of effective e-mail subject lines, but
also in the strategy of what to send your audience, and how to effectively segment and
target them. We can provide consultation on content and integrating your electronic
marketing with the rest of your marketing efforts.

About KPS|3 Marketing
KPS|3 Marketing is a full-service agency, providing integrated marketing communication
services to an outstanding portfolio of national and regional clients. We offer:
  •	E-mail marketing and online media planning
  •	Website, blog and social media planning, design and development (XHTML, CMS,
     Flash, PHP) with search engine optimization
  •	New media and traditional media planning, analysis and buying
  •	Brand analysis, strategy and planning
  •	Market research and analysis
  •	Advertising/creative services for newspaper/magazine, television, radio
     and billboard placement
  •	Writing and design for brochures, annual reports and direct mail
  •	Packaging, point-of-service and trade show display design
  •	Logo/corporate identity development
  •	Public relations, reputation management and crisis management
  •	Special event strategy, planning, marketing, promotion and management
  •	In-sourced marketing/communications

                                                          Marketing | Communicating | Thinking

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