Refreshing News About Email Subject Lines

Last week Adam Holden-Bache from Mass Transmit and I were interviewed by Refreshing News, a Coca-Cola publication for the food and beverage industry. The topic was email marketing subject lines. They were gathering tips on how to increase the likelihood of an email message being opened.

They were especially in the market for unique and unconventional tips, and examples of earth-shattering campaigns. I’m sure that what we discussed wasn’t exactly what they were looking for because the truth is: getting a single message opened should NOT be the end goal. Here’s the bullet-points from the interview:

What you should focus on

  • Recognition, Interest, Action. — Not just on Opens.
  • Consumer Experience and long term revenue — Less on single-instance Open Rate

Research and experience tells us…

  • Short subject lines works best, but don’t sacrifice on message just for the sake of it.
  • Subject lines with company names in them do better, at least in the short run but does that work for you?
  • Don’t use First Name personalization, instead use product or content preferences, interests, past purchases, web site activity to make message more relevant to the unique end-user.
  • The best performing subject lines tell what’s inside.
  • Lead but don’t mislead.
  • Preview-text is a powerful tool, and great place to use first name personalization.

Try these tactics

  • Instill a sense of urgency, it drives action. “Order by Midnight: Save 40%”
  • Use data, such as known demographics and customers history.  “Men’s Cardigans – BOGO Sale”
  • Use emotion. “Your wife will LOVE this cardigan”
  • Use controversial Headlines. “Cardigans Linked to World Peace”
  • Use teasers (from time to time). “What’s our most popular cardigans?

Real world examples


  • Find your voice, but mix it up (remember too that clutter is an issue, especially during the inbox busy season)
  • Getting a single email is one thing, a sustainable email program is something else.
  •  Always test! Use the available tools or do it manually, but test. Put your best foot forward but don’t assume.

I’d love to hear YOUR thoughts and see more examples, please comment and contribute!

– Scott | Indiemark

What Email Marketers Can Learn from E.T.

The world was captivated by the 80’s hit ET; the story of a boy who forms a symbiotic relationship with a visitor from another world. Sound familiar? As marketers, how can we capture some of that movie magic and turn your prospects and customers from an ET (email terrestrial) into an EC (engaged customer)?

The First Encounter
Your visitor arrives; through the galaxy of search, past the constellation of social and the WOM nebula to land on your website. The visitor looks around, is this the planet they were searching for? He has some trepidation about your intentions and offerings; spook him and he may take off in one click. To maximize the possibility of communication, or ensure return visits, make sure that your “welcome to our planet” sign-up proposition is prominently displayed and quickly communicates the value of getting to know you better.

The Personal and Human Touch
Although they might look a bit strange at first. Your new friend is more than just an email address. Once you get to know them better, these ‘email terrestrials’ are more human than you might think. So be sure you get to know them in order to effectively communicate with them. The sign-up process can capture the essential information needed. But as time goes by, you can ask for further preferences and use behavioral data to go from a general messaging to ones that are more relevant and targeted.

Using Special Effects
Special effects can give your messages the pop needed in today’s crowded inbox. Email marketing special effects might include discounts, incentives, extremely personalized messages and mixing it up with great design. But they should support the story. A solid story trumps special effects every time. Without a (brand) story to tell, special effects just seem silly. You might as well be watching the Syfy movie of the week.  So make sure your messaging is has a heart and wow your audience with great effects.

Bad Guys and Bikes That Fly on Their Own
In the movie our friend ET was protected from the evil “task force”. While most of us will not be hiding customers in our closet, there is always the possibility that they will walk into the hands of the competition. So make sure you monitor your foes and have everything in place to be there when the subscriber is ready to fly, such as cart abandonment, sales cycle, and other triggered emails.

Creating a Blockbuster
With a great story and timely personalized communications, you can make your prospects feel at home, begin to build a relationship, and reduce opt-outs. Turning the ETs (Email terrestrials) into ECs (engaged customers) and maybe even make $ 792 million at the box office.

Join Us at Social Fresh in Tampa

What: Social Fresh Tampa is their second event of 2010. This one day conference will have tons of fresh social media success stories and actionable tips. The content will reflect all Social Fresh flagship events with big brands, all specifically for marketing professionals. More case studies, less concept.

When: February 8th, 2010, 7am to 6:30pm

Who: Social Fresh Tampa will have 30-35 speakers split between two rooms of content, stand alone featured speakers and panels.

How: Purchase Ticket ($315)