The Subject Line Gamble
As much as marketers talk about ROI and how careful they are about where to spend their money, they’re gambling with their email marketing dollars. Marketers can know for sure if they’ve picked the right subject lines, but only 47 percent of professionals bother to find out by A/B testing — sometimes.
Surprisingly, travel and transportation marketers are among the worst laggards, with 44 percent sometimes testing alternate subject lines; while their vacation, hotel and leisure counterparts are among the leaders at 75 percent, according to recent research from email marketing software and services provider GetResponse.
“Consider every email a customer survey of your target market,” recommends the Wilmington, Del.-based vendor in “The State of Email Marketing by Industry January 2016” by GetResponse and Kath Pay.
Here are a few more findings and recommendations for marketers from the GetResponse research:
• What’s Your Goal? “Aim to learn something from every email you send — not just an A/B test to determine which subject line gains the best results, but how elements, like tone of voice and messaging, affect your opens and conversions. For example, you could test the effectiveness of an ‘exclusive offer’ subject line vs. ‘30% off.’ New prospects, unfamiliar with your services, might respond better to the 30 percent off offer, but existing customers could feel more valued and, therefore, engage better with, the idea of exclusivity.”
• Write the Subject Line First, Not Last. This way, marketers think about the subject lines and what they do with the body of the message flows from there. GetResponse says marketers often leave writing the subject line until the last minute. [Editor’s note: This may explain a lot of typos.]
• Make Sure the Subject Line Pays Off in the Email. Don’t bait and switch. “If the content itself doesn’t flow from the subject line, this higher open rate won’t necessarily result in conversions. Once you’ve disappointed your readers and lost their trust, you’ll have to work twice as hard to regain it later.”
• Use Some Emotional, Hot-Button Tricks. Include at least two of the following items in each subject line: Curiosity, urgency, relevance, value and emotion. [Editor’s note: Former Target Marketing editor/columnist Denny Hatch suggested copywriters use emotional hot buttons of fear, greed, guilt, anger, exclusivity, salvation and flattery to gain the desired results.]
• Test More Than Once. Customers can grow weary of a subject line, marketers’ targets may change, etc. Keep testing.
What do marketers think of this? For more subject line writing suggestions from GetResponse, check out Feb. 8's blog post: “They Laughed When I Used This Subject Line Tactic, But Then I Sent The Email …”
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Related story: 6 Subject Line Writing Tips