What makes an effective or compelling subject line?
1 Vote

It’s hard to get your email recipient to open your email – there’s just too much email coming in, and too much else to do. But much more important than folks opening your email is that they interact with it, clicking-through to give, signing up, getting more information….. How can you craft email subject lines that engage readers and motivate them to open your email and act?

  1. Be Specific: A longer subject line gives you the space you need to tell the reader what the email is about! That way she can make an informed decision on her next step. If it’s not relevant to her, she is more likely to delete it but if it is relevant, she’ll be much more likely to respond to your call to action.
  2. Feature a Value-Focused Call to Action: Too many email subject lines drone on, outlining what the email covers rather than the ultimate goal. Don’t waste this valuable real estate. Use the subject line to highlight what you want readers to do, and the value of that action. For example, rather than “Help Support Our Food Pantry,” say “Give Today to Keep 176 Families in Food Next Week.”
  3. Shorter is Better IF Possible: There’s been a lot written stressing the importance of brevity in email subject lines. Indeed, a short subject line is easier to digest quickly and more readable on most handhelds too. But if you sacrifice specificity for brevity, you’re lost.
  4. Test, Test, Test: Each email audience is distinct, and your organization is likely to have multiple distinctive segments within its list. So what holds for one segment may not work for another. The best way to understand what email subject lines motivate action is to execute an A/B test within each segment. It’s simple – Half the names receive one version, the second half receives another which is different. After a few tests within each segment, you’ll be able to evaluate what characteristics are musts for your email subject lines.

- Nancy Schwartz, Getting Attention http://www.gettingattention.org/



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