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Writing effective e-mail newsletter subject lines

When you use the newsletter creation tool in Tendenci, by default your subject line will be "Company Name Newsletter Month-Year" (i.e. "Sokol Volleyball Newsletter 30-May-09").
 
This is fine, and it works, but studies have found that this format is not the most effective way to encourage your customers to open your newsletter! You only have 50 characters (some experts argue that 20-30 is optimal), so make it count!
 
So what should you do instead?
 

Here are some tips:

 
DON'T make your e-mail look like spam!
 
To spam filters:
There are certain "Spam words" that mail clients (like Gmail, Yahoo mail, Outlook) look for in determining if an e-mail is spam.  These include "free," "deal," etc. Experts disagree on what is actually included in this list, but I think the subject line spam trigger word list from Mequoda is fairly comprehensive. Also, DON'T write in all caps. Ever.
 
To people:
The concept doesn't just apply to spam filters. People also tend to ignore things that look like spam. In a study of open rates, Mail Chimp found that the words "Help, Percent off, and Reminder " won't trigger a spam filter, but will negatively affect your open rates.
 
Mix up the subject line!
 
 
 
 
If you use the same headline every time you send a newsletter, there will be a drop in open rates. Each subject line should discuss the content of the current newsletter.
 
Show that this newsletter is worth reading
 
Write a subject line that encourages customers to open the e-mail. Some ideas for subjects:
 
  • Make an announcement 
  • Say something to make your readers curious
    • Ask a question
  • Show what's in it for them!
    • Give tips
    • Put it in a list format - web readers love lists because they are easily scannable
  • Create a sense of urgency that inspires action!
    • If you have an offer in your newsletter, put it in your subject line as well! People will click for more information
  • Review subject line performance - keep using what works, ditch what doesn't
  • Name your target audience
    • People are more likely to open if they understand the context
    • i.e. "Freelancers! Now you can..."
  • Localization
    • Experts disagree, but personalization does not necessarily increase clicks
    • Including geographic detail makes your content more applicable to your audience
  • You don't always need your company name in the subject line
    • If you are running out of room (remember, 50 characters!) opt to not use your company name
    • Your company name will be somewhere in the from field
    • As always, test test test to verify
 
 
For more on subject lines, check out the sources below for some good reading!
 
Sources:
Topics: Email