If you send promotional emails or regular news updates to your customers, you probably put a lot of thought into the content. But no matter how much time and energy you put into writing (and rewriting) the content you send to your customers, the words you use in your subject line are the most crucial of all. A good subject line can get your message read - and hopefully prompt your readers to take action - but a bad one can send your communication straight to the spam folder, never to see the light of day. Worse yet, it can irritate your audience and damage your company's reputation.
Making the most of your subject line: Keep it simple, descriptive and to the point. Give your readers a reason to open your message and read further. Tell them what to expect without being too wordy. Include your company name, and use 50 or fewer characters. Front-load your important messages.
Many email clients will truncate your subject line, so it's hard to determine exactly how many characters your recipients will see. Although most will accommodate up to 50 characters, it's safer to put your important messages first, just in case. But be sure to check what will happen if your message is truncated to, say, 28 characters. Does it appear too generic? Has the meaning changed? Will it still stand out from all the other promotional emails in your reader's in-box? It can't hurt to do some testing: Litmus offers a free subject line checker here. A/B test your subject.
Use an email administration service so you can track your open rate (the percentage of your audience who opened your email) and your click rate (the percentage of your audience who clicked through to your website). When you're ready to send your newsletter, create two versions of your subject line and send both versions to two portions of your list. Review your open rates for each version to see which subject line performed better. Send the more successful version to the remainder of your list. Watch your wording.
Using words like "free," "help," "reminder," "discount," "act now," "amazing," and "percent off" are likely to send your email straight to the spam folder. Also avoid "shouting" with all caps or exclamation marks, as these too will ensure your message never sees the light of day. Check - and double check - for typos, misspellings, or bad grammar.
This is an opportunity for you to connect directly with your target audience. Don't damage your reputation or your brand with careless mistakes. Check your copy, fix it if necessary and scrutinize it again. Then give it to someone else to check.
Of course, the end-goal in sending email to your customers is not simply to have them open your email or click through to your website. The true measure of success is if they respond to your call-to-action by making a purchase, "liking" your product on Facebook, or providing you with valuable feedback. Getting your audience to read your email is simply the first - crucial - step.