When business owners and marketers complain about their results with email marketing, there are a couple of things that could be happening.
Either the emails being sent out are missing the boat when it comes to truly connecting with the reader, so they are just not clicking. OR… the emails are actually pretty great, but no one is opening because the subject line is as dull as dishwater.
Here is how I like to think about this: imagine you are in a store looking for a candy bar, and there is an extensive range for you to choose from. You spot one that really stands out because of its beautiful shiny packaging, and enticing words that already have your mouth watering before you’ve even picked it up.
Right next to it there is another one that is really dull by comparison and does nothing to get you excited – you may be slightly curious, but beyond that, not much. On the inside, this candy bar could taste amazing, but if it is never opened, then no one is going to know.
That is exactly what is happening when people open their inbox each day – they have a huge amount of emails to choose from, so you better make sure that yours is going to grab their attention immediately and get them excited because otherwise, it is just going to sit there gathering dust like those unopened candy bars.
Writing the perfect subject line for your emails is something that takes a bit of practice to get right, but if you remain consistent and keep going, you’ll get there, and you’ll see the rewards reflected in your engagement and your revenue.
In this post, we are going to share a few simple tips that will help you start writing the best subject lines that your readers won’t be able to ignore.
1. Look at what others are doing
Instead of banging your head against the table in frustration each time you send an email with hope and pray subject line that flops, why not stop for a minute and take a look around at what others are doing?
I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that straight up copying someone else’s subject line is a big no-no – that is called plagiarism and will get you in a lot of trouble, but taking inspiration from those in the same industry is always okay.
Create a separate folder in your Gmail inbox, or even just on your desktop, and each time you receive an email that immediately grabs your attention before you’ve opened it, add it to your folder.
If you don’t already subscribe to emails from others in your industry, then now is the time to start.
Again, keep these in a separate folder so you’re not facing inbox overwhelm, and each week or so, set some time aside and go through the subject lines you’ve gathered and analyze what was so great about them that made them stand out to you.
Once you’ve done this a few times, you’ll be surprised at just how similar (again, not directly copying each other) these subject lines are, and you’ll notice that they typically follow a proven formula.
So, instead of trying to reinvent the wheel each time, just put your own spin on what is already working in your industry.
2. Track Everything
You should already be doing this for pretty much everything in your business, anyway, so if you are not, then please start now.
Tracking your email results is made extremely easy because it is already built right into every email marketing platform out there, so there is truly no excuse for not doing this.
It doesn’t really matter if you decide to track once per week, per month, or even daily if you prefer, but the important thing is actually getting into the habit and sticking to it.
If you don’t have the time to track your own email performance, then you can outsource this to a Virtual Assistant who will provide you with a spreadsheet of your results as you require them.
Although you should be tracking every aspect of your emails, such as click rates, unsubscribes, and sales, for the purpose of understanding which subject lines are working, you’ll need to look closely at the open rates.
Looking for patterns will help you quickly identify which subject lines are performing best, and which ones aren’t doing so great. The best way to track your subject lines’ performance is to have a spreadsheet or section of a spreadsheet just for them.
Create specific columns for each of these:
- The date the email was sent;
- The subject line used;
- How many people received the email;
- How many people opened it;
- How many people unsubscribed;
- How many people unsubscribed without opening the email (this metric will tell you a lot)
Also, make sure you add additional columns for any split tests you do of the subject line, so you know which version is performing best.
Another thing you should be tracking is the results of any market research you’ve done. This is a crucial part of your business that you should have in place before you even send one email, but is something that should be ongoing.
You can use surveys for this or even consumer panels, but market research is so important in understanding what people want and need from you.
If you are new to this, then you should take some time to learn how consumer research panels can help you with performing in-depth market research for your business.
3. Split Test
All of the major email marketing platforms offer some kind of A/B split testing feature – because it is a crucial way to determine what content people are responding to.
If you are not split testing your emails then you are not only wasting a lot of time simply guessing, but you are leaving money on the table.
Conducting a split test is very simple, and will really help you when it comes to writing great subject lines in the future. Let’s say that you’ve followed the previous steps in this post and have gathered a decent list of potential subject lines to use in your emails.
How are you going to know if that works? By testing them – not any old testing them, though. The best way to test something is by putting it out there live against a competitor.
So, once you know what your email is about, then it’s time to choose two subject lines from your list that you think are most relevant to this email and will grab attention.
Instead of sending the typical broadcast to the intended audience, you simply select the option to split test it. Now, you sit back and wait for the data to come back.
Each version of your email will be sent to a small section of your list separately, and then everyone will be sent the one that performs best out of the two. Very simple, but very effective in showing what works and what doesn’t.
So, there you have it: tips you can start implementing right away to start improving your email open rates to avoid having your emails left unopened like dull-looking candy bars.
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I am Adeyemi Adetilewa, a media consultant, entrepreneur, husband, and father. Founder and Editor-In-Chief of Ideas Plus Business Magazine, online business resources for entrepreneurs. I help brands share unique and impactful stories through the use of public relations, advertising, and online marketing. My work has been featured on the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Addicted2Success, Hackernoon, The Good Men Project, and other publications.