Time to pull the rug from under you. Remember in the early 90s when Donald Trump said, “If everybody is doing one thing, it is probably a good idea to do the opposite.” It is hard to deny his logic when he is now a billionaire and a president, and it is hard to deny his idea when people have lost millions due to mortgage bubbles, the net bubble, and even the current bitcoin craze because they followed the crowd. Go online right now and you will find reams of advice on email marketing and email subject lines. The sole purpose of this article is to debunk what you are reading online and to offer some examples of companies who are “Nailing” the email subject line and getting consistent clicks and conversions.
#1. Make Your Subject Line Personal – Why? Are You the Recipients Grandma?
Lines such as, “Hey, how are you?” and “We have a message for you Brian Crawford” are not as powerful as you think because spammers use those sorts of tactics all the time. Even the idea of addressing a recipient by his/her name is not recommended because many people give fake and/or silly names when they sign up for online accounts. Unless you are a credit card company or a bank and you are 100% sure of the recipient’s name, then there is no point in risking addressing the recipient by name. Plus, people are so used to spammers addressing them by name and making emails personal that the technique simply doesn’t work anymore.
#2. Keep It Short – Why? Is Your Recipient Missing His/her Right Eye?
The notion that you should treat your email recipients as if they have attention-deficit disorder is quite valid because most people are skim reading at best when they are online. However, there is no proof at all that shorter email subject lines create more conversions. Spammers use short subject lines all the time and still have no success. Plus, as the director of SuperiorPapers writes in his blog, “There are times when longer subject lines are quite useful and effective, especially when a potential customer is fond of your product or service.” Below are some examples of spammers using shorter subject lines.
#3. Avoid Spam Filter Words – Why? It Is Illegal to Spam People Anyway
To legally send people “marketing emails” then you need double confirmation. This means you need the person signing up to give you consent, give you their email address, and then make a purchase. Or, give you consent via a tick box, give you their email address, and then click a link within the email address to activate their account. You can add all the spammy words you wish to your email subject line, but if you have double confirmation then you are okay, and you are legal.
Plus, when people double-confirm, you send them an email with an activation link in it. Usually, when a person receives that email, they move the email from term junk file into their inbox, or they mark it as “Not Junk.” This will keep your emails out of the junk file.
If your email list was legally built with double confirmation, then do not be limited based on misguided ideas about what spam words shouldn’t be used. Plus, do not be afraid of the junk folder. Very few people click to empty their junk folder without having a look first, and if they trust you, then they will still look at your emails if they are in the junk folder.
#4. Make It Look Urgent – Why? Do People Urgently Need Car Wax Right Now?
There is little point in showing you examples of urgent email subject lines because you have seen thousands of them yourself. Almost every spammer adds an urgent tinge to their email but asks yourself if it has ever worked on you. Have you ever seen a line that says, “Time is short” or “Limited Period offer” or “Urgent message inside” and have actually clicked to view the email?
If you want to use the urgency technique, then do it organically. If you are having a sale, then send discount emails with subject lines that give the discount amounts and the date the sale ends. Other methods include telling people how many days are left in the sale, such as, “Only three days left until our January Sales period ends.” These methods use the urgency technique without putting on pressure and/or without appearing spammy.
#5. Use Numbers – Really? Are People So Dumb That They Are Convinced by Numbers?
Are 88% of your audience dumb? Do 63% of your emails fail to be opened? Did only 2.334% of your emails convert last year? Do 75% of Millennials prefer email?. The idea that the use of numbers will somehow make your emails more likely to be opened is about as dumb as thinking people will respond to your emails if you include their hometown in the email subject line.
Instead of falling for this shallow nonsense, you need to work on creating a precedent with your email recipients so that you may build trust. Just because people do not click on your emails doesn’t mean they do not want them. For example, you may be running offers of the newest lawn mowers, which is fine, but your recipient may not want a lawnmower. That recipient will not click on your email but may click on the next one that presents your newest line of drills. Since you are not using cheap tricks when you promote your lawn mowers, your recipient learns to slowly trust you so that he or she is more likely to click when the “Drills” email comes around.
Even if you offer a discount voucher every two months, like the stationery store Staples does, and even if people do not click on your email, they will still trust and seek out your email in their inbox the next time they need stationery supplies.
#6. Getting the Timing Right Is Essential – Why? This Fact Isn’t Even True of Social Media Anymore
You have probably seen hundreds of reports and online articles about how the timing of your social media posts is key to your success. Yet, it has now been proven conclusively that the effect of social media post timing is only marginally different from somebody who posts at any time on any day. In fact, there are some top social media influencers whose odd and random posting schedule keeps their followers on their toes.
Getting the timing right isn’t important in all but a handful of circumstances. For example, sending an email about your January sales on Boxing day is a time-honored tradition, but the idea that if you send your emails at 3 pm on Saturday that they will have a bigger impact than if you send them at 5 pm on Monday is nonsense. Your recipient may receive the email on Saturday but may not check his or her email until Tuesday.
It is far better to create useful and meaningful emails. For example, there is a Japanese-learning course that sends free “Words of The Day” to people. The email subject line often says, “Word of The Day” and then the Japanese word with English characters (not in Kanji because some browsers do not support Chinese/Japanese letters).
Another simple-but-effective email comes from TransferWise, as they allow you to sign up for their free rate alerts function. They send you an email whenever the conversion rate for your chosen currencies shifts in a meaningful way, which is very useful for people who deal with more than one currency on a daily basis.
Concluding With A Few More Examples
Below is an image showing a few more examples of cleverly conceived emails with suitable email subject lines and useful email content. Remember…if everybody is doing one thing, there is no harm in “Trying” the opposite.