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Heather Seitz: Improving Your Email Subject Lines


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I was recently on a call with one of our consulting clients and we were discussing their stats.

The long and the short of it is that they were getting really high click through rates after they got the open, but the open rates were extremely low.

We conducted their deliverability audit with their ESP and their deliverability was “okay”. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t terrible, which led us to the task of increasing her open rates first and foremost.

Here is some of the advice that we gave her:

1. Write multiple subject lines.
Most people spend very little time working on their subject lines. It’s a good idea to write at least 10 subject lines to start and then pick the best one.

TIP: Keep subject lines less than 50 characters where possible.

2. Pay attention to your audience
It’s important to know your subscribers. You may want to segment several sections of your list and use different subject lines for different segments.

3. Try testing your CTA in your subject line.
If you’ve got a segment of your list that is a high-action segment, consider testing the call to action in the subject line.

4. Don’t overuse symbols, caps, etc.
While symbols and caps can certainly add impact on the right occasion. Overusing either of these tools can adversely impact delivery.

5. Split test subject lines
It’s always a good idea to split test subject lines. HOWEVER, look beyond just the opens. There’s more to the story. For instance, one subject line might have a higher open rates, but lower click through rates, and lower sales. So be sure to watch the test through the funnel. Your bottom line is the true indicator of the success of the subject line, copy, AND offer.

6. Check the “preview”
Your subject line is like your headline, and the teaser copy is like your subhead. At least a few times a week, I get an email that reads “Subject Line – Put your teaser copy here” or “something to that effect “Subject Line – View email in a web browser. You always want to check what subscribers are going to see when their previewing the message to decide whether or not to open it.

7. TEST.
This goes without saying, but always need to test your messages before sending, preferably in different clients and browsers. Not only will this help you identify potential problems with your content hitting the spam folder, but it will also let you see exactly what your subscribers see when they receive your emails.

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