subject line Articles
Did you know that your “from” and subject lines aren’t the only inbox tools you have to convince subscribers to open your email marketing messages?
Some email programs also display an auto-preview of the top of your email, sometimes called a snippet.
That snippet could be the extra nudge subscribers need to open and investigate further.
The power of the snippet hasn’t yet been proven, so before you make any permanent changes, we encourage you to split test a few broadcasts. To get started, here are four ways to set up a snippet-friendly version in under five minutes.
Extend Your Subject Line
If your emails are topped with a line of text, those words will also display after your subject in the inbox.
So choose these words carefully. They’ll act as an introduction to your content, and you can also use them supplement your subject line with a tease of what’s inside.
Remember, snippet length will vary depending on each reader’s screen size, so frontload the important words.
Programs this will show in:
Gmail Outlook iPhone
Relegate Requests to Sidebars
You may have housekeeping items at the top of your email, such as a whitelisting request or a link to unsubscribe.
To keep them from monopolizing auto-preview space, shift them slightly from the main body to the top of a sidebar. They’ll still be easily accessible, and they’ll give you room to put snippet-worthy text where it needs to go.
Programs this will show in:
Gmail Outlook iPhone
Snippet-ize Your Images
Your message may be designed with a logo, header or other image at the top. These won’t show in a snippet, but if you set alt text, some programs will show that instead.
So write this text in a way that serves two purposes. It will need to stand in for the picture in case images don’t display, and it should also be able to pick up where your subject line leaves off.
Programs this will show in:
A Secret Strategy: Slip It In
It’s possible that you’re thinking, “These ideas don’t work for me. I don’t want text or an image at the top of my design, and I don’t want to move anything. Can’t my snippet just disappear once the email is opened?”
Actually, in some places it can. There’s an easy way to make a snippet that doesn’t show in your email. The mechanics? Assign alt text to a tiny image – then render it invisible by matching it to your background color.
If you’d like more specific directions, they’re available here.
Programs this will show in:
Test It Out!
Send your originally planned broadcast to half your list and a snippet-friendly version to the other half. Do you notice any changes in engagement?
Let us know your results and your own thoughts on creating snippets in the comment section below!
Read "Do You Use Snippets For More Opens?"
We tweet links that amuse, outrage or inspire us. We write our tweets to get others to click. And sometimes we’re more effective than others.
Your subject line has the same mission: earn a click to open the email. The same principles prompt this response for both tweets and subject lines.
So how do you write effective “click-this” text? The Nielsen Norman Group just unveiled the answer. Let’s look at how you can apply it to your subject lines.
Start Off Right
See how early you can position your hot topic keywords in your subject line.
This not only catches the attention of subscribers skimming through, it works well when designing for mobile email, which has a relatively short subject area.
Provide Eye-Catching Context
There are millions upon millions of products and services for sale online. Give your subscribers reason to pick yours – offer value beyond the product itself.
Suggest an unusual and helpful use for your product. Link your service to current events. Surround your products with context that fascinates your readers.
Keep it Short (Enough)
The right length for a tweet is long enough to make the point, short enough to be usable. The same is true for your subject line.
Only the first 25 or so characters are usually guaranteed to display on computers. Mobile email shows even less.
Test your message in different email clients to find out if enough of your subject fits into the allotted space – you may even find you have extra space you can make use of.
Make Every Word Count
The fewer words you use to get your point across, the better. It’s especially important to suck out vampire words.
Be careful, though – don’t chop words you need. Nonsensical subject lines might grab attention, but it’s probably the wrong kind.
Keep Your Focus Clear
Tweets and subject lines both have a brevity that demands simplicity.
Even if you have several articles or offers in your email, don’t try to highlight them all in your subject line. Pick your strongest selling point.
If you’re unsure which that is, run a split test and note what works best for next time.
Don’t Forget the Law
Writing eye-catching text demands a certain level of creativity, but it’s important to keep from going overboard. To stay safe, bump your subject line against the ultimate test: the law.
According to CAN SPAM, misleading subject lines are actually illegal, so make sure yours accurately reflects the focus within.
Please Unveil Your Own Answer Below
Nielsen Norman’s study shows us a big picture based on hundreds of examples. But you’ve got your own story about what’s worked for you.
How do you write an effective subject line? Do you have formulas you stick to or strategies you use?
Read "Twitterize Your Email Subject Lines"
But the truth of the matter is that very often, email marketing is pushed to the bottom of your never ending “to do” lists. There are so many pressing tasks at hand and sending email is so quick that you usually put it off until later, right?
Fortunately, these last minute tips for messages that should’ve gone out yesterday will get you out of the office by 5:00 and cozied up in front of the TV in no time.
Your 20-Minute Manual
Choose a Template
Not sure how you want your email to look? Picking a template can save a lot of time and aggravation. Depending on which one you choose, the columns will dictate the content and give your email focus.
Once you pick a template that suits your needs, simply pop your logo and important company information in and you’ll have a unique, customized template that you can use again and again – just by clicking copy.
- Copy the image URL from your website.
- While editing your HTML message, place your cursor wherever you want the logo to appear.
- Click the yellow “Insert/Edit an Image” icon that appears in the HTML editor.
- Paste the image URL in the “URL” field, then click the “Insert” button:
Get Link Happy
According to Dr. Flint McGlaughlin of Marketing Experiments, your email has one job: it invites your subscribers to a mental conversation.
That conversation should take place back on your website, whether it be making a sale, sharing a blog post, offering a discount or taking reservations.
When you’re in a rush and hurrying to send your newsletter it’s easy to skip the extra steps. Be sure to make the invitation to conversation very clear with a few well-placed links to your contact page, store hours, menu, FAQ or other frequently sought pages.
Remember though, these secondary links shouldn’t distract from the main point or the call-to-action of the email.
Review Discarded Content
If you don’t already, get in the habit of saving the work that doesn’t make it into your messages. When you’re short on time and in a pinch, it’s the kindling for an incendiary newsletter.
If you find that you ramble on and always cut portions of text out of your pieces after writing them, keep the content that ends up on the cutting room floor and devote your newsletter focus to your brilliant insight that was previously too lengthy to publish.
You could even keep a folder with snippets of abandoned blog posts or newsletter articles handy when you’re working on your emails – so long as the content is valuable, your newsletter will build itself.
Spend Time on Your Subject Line
If your subject line doesn’t compel readers to open the email, the rest of your content goes unseen. Make sure it clearly presents the email’s value while staying consistent with your past subject lines.
In fact, you can use existing messages to guide you. Keep track of patterns in open rates to see which subject lines earned the most opens, then mimic the format with your new one.
Treat it like a game of Mad Libs and fill in the blanks:
If “Free Shipping – All Handbags, One Week Only!” was your message with the most opens, take out the specifics and replace them with this week’s deal.
“Free Shipping – Spring Essentials, Wednesday Only!” is new and different from the last, but the format worked for you before and should work again, according to the stats.
Procrastination in Moderation
It’s nerve wracking, but waiting until the last minute to send messages can actually work out in your favor…when you don’t make a habit of it!
Great campaigns do take time to plan and implement.
Read "Tips for Email Procrastinators"
Sometimes we have to wonder what causes a subscriber to delete our messages instead of reading them. Maybe they don’t connect with the reader’s interests. Or, maybe they’ve gone with a competitor and just haven’t unsubscribed yet.
There are several reasons we can guess at, but few are more troublesome than the idea of the subscriber simply not recognizing the sender or the fact that they’d requested information in the first place.
It’s frustrating, and it seems to happen all to commonly. Fortunately, it’s easily preventable. Let’s take at easy-to-implement ways to ensure your subscribers remember you and their subscription to your campaigns.
Read "Dear Email Subscriber: Remember Me?"
I brought up the topic of split testing a while back. However, I
didn’t have a sample split test to refer you to at the time.
So, I went back and found an example. Let’s take a look at a split
test, what was varied, and what we might infer from our results.
Read "Split Testing: Interpreting An Example"
Consistency is something that we all lean on, from the time we wake up to the time we go to sleep. When my alarm clock goes off, I hit the snooze button and it consistently reminds me to get up exactly 10 minutes later. I turn the left-hand knob on my shower, and hot water comes out of the faucet.
If my alarm doesn’t go off again after I hit the snooze button or if my faucet won’t give me hot water, it throws me off. It doesn’t necessarily ruin my day, of course, but it does remind me how reliant we are on routine and how disruptions in that routine aren’t usually welcome.
And just what does this have to do with your newsletter?
Read "What Do Subscribers Expect from You?"