Email Marketing: One question to ask yourself before you write another subject line


I spend a healthy portion of my day exchanging emails with our Research Partners to help keep our testing projects running smoothly.

When it comes time to sift through a pile of emails flooding my inbox after a long day at the office, my eagerness to open, read and take action is all but diminished.

So, how do I sort through the clutter?

The same way a lot of people do – by looking for what I can delete first.


The one element your subject line needs the most

If there is one thing customers want most in a subject line, it is relevance.

Before you write another subject line, you should stop and ask yourself a tough question at the heart of relevance.

“If I am your ideal prospect, why should I open your email rather than your competitors’?”

In my experience, relevance is the one good reason to open an email that outweighs plenty of reasons to delete it.


Test your way into staying relevant

While we have no control over a customer’s motivations, we do have control of how we choose to appeal to those motivations.

The beauty of testing is the discovery of which appeals have more pull on the heart strings of customer motivation than others.

These discoveries about your customers are useful, important and at times, lucrative to your bottom line.

The important thing here to remember is staying relevant is hard enough and it means testing, because the alternative for anything less on your part is deletion.

To learn more about building relevance around your subject lines, you can watch the free on-demand MarketingExperiments Web clinic replay of “Subject Lines that Convert.”

Also, feel free to share some of your challenges with subject lines in the comments below.


Related Resources:

Copywriting Contest: Put your subject line skills to the test to win a ticket to Email Summit 2014

Email Marketing: 6 bad habits to avoid when testing emails

Email Marketing: 3 award-winning lessons about relevance

Email Marketing: 24% higher CTR for CareerBuilder’s responsive design

Email Deliverability: Is Gmail’s tabbed inbox a B2B challenge?

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  1. Perry Bernard says

    Hi Emily, thanks for the info. We have been split testing Mail Chimp on and off with subject line variation, but I suspect we haven’t been aggressive enough with the contrasting content as almost all of the time the open rates between splits differ by ridiculously small percentages that I doubt the subject line was the motivator at all. An example: Our team email to a Real Estate database, nationwide. It’s not a large list, so experimenting could be costly. Regrettably, I also understand that “not experimenting” is also costly. Will check out your “subject lines that convert” page.

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