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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How To Write Compelling Email Subject Lines That Boosts Your Open Rates

Your email has made it through the obstacle course of spam filters, black listing organizations, and email client filters to its final destination of your subscriber's Inbox. Your email will also be one of the hundreds of commercial emails that hit Inboxes per day. The question now becomes how do you entice the reader to open and read your email?

In a way, you already know the answer to this question as you have scanned your own email Inbox to determine the emails that deserve your attention. Direct marketers often picture their prospects as standing over the garbage container sorting their mails as 'junk' versus 'read-worthy. Your subscribers are no different.

In fact, here are some subject lines from my Inbox:

Say I do with Kodak's September Newsletter!

Save up to 40% with Corel's Labor Day Sale! Ends September 7

Dive into Autumn Savings at Sam's Club

My apologies ...

c u in vegas ;-)

Thank you for your payment

4 Steps to Get Started with Facebook

Which of these emails would you open first? Most likely the more personal and less commercial email will get your vote.

Here are some tips you can use when writing your email subject line:

1. Forget your corporate speech and be personal. Write your headline as though it was from a personal friend. The more you understand your subscribers and market, the easier it will become to learn their language and resonate with your readers.

2. Build curiosity. Keep in mind that the subject line is comparable to the headline for an advertisement. Its main purpose is to get the rest of your email read. You can therefore build curiosity by using an incomplete sentence, asking a question for which the body of the email will give the answer or using a teaser such as, "You won't believe this."

3. Mention the benefit or reward for opening the email. For example, you may write, "Here's how to get your emails read every time'. The reader has to open the email in order to learn this new information. Clear benefits include how to save money, be healthier, look more attractive and whatever benefits your service or products provide.

4. Make an announcement or give news. If you have any message that is newsworthy or can be cast as such, then use a subject line to announce this news. Announcements by their very nature get attention and you want your subject lines to get attention for your email body message. An announcement could be as simple as a change you have made at your website or a special report you intend to send to your subscribers the following week.

5. Provide tips. This article provides tips on how to write effective email subject lines. One of the reasons why you are reading it is because "how to" information is usually practical versus theoretical, and promises to help you accomplish a certain task. This is the same reason why so many books are titled using "how to". If you connect your tips with solutions to the readers needs, then you'll have a winner subject line.

6. Avoid using words that trigger the spam filters. Avoid words such as "free", "buy", "opportunity", "hurry", "limited offer", "sale" and "special". Most email service providers have tools which warns you if the 'spam score' is above an unacceptable level by filtering these 'trigger' words for you. (Note: Your "Domain Reputation", i.e., as a commercial mailer is becoming a bigger factor at the top ISPs when considering the Inbox worthiness of your messages. Increased reliance on Reputation means ISPs will rely less on spam trigger words during their Inbox delivery decision.)

7. Avoid using ALL CAPS and exclamation points!! It is commonly accepted online that all caps suggest shouting and you don't want to shout at your readers. Exclamation points suggest the same as well and should be avoided as much as possible. A simple comparison of personal emails with spam emails will show this clear difference.

8. Keep it short. The best practice is to keep your subject line below 50 characters. Most email clients will not show subjects lines beyond this length anyway and so the reader will not be able to read your full subject line before opening the email. Also, most emails sent by a friend usually have a short subject such as "See you tomorrow?", "Thank you!" or "I got it."

You may use any one of these subject line ideas or create a combination of strategies to make an even more effective one. For example, consider this subject line:

"Who wants to learn how to write compelling subject lines?"

This subject line asks a question, suggests tips ('how to' and makes an announcement. This triple combination makes the subject line more effective than just using one element.

You have just one line to get your emails opened and a lot hangs on that line. You have to make every word count by knowing your audience interests, and getting them excited to reading your email in full.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Tracking Your Email Campaign

Whether you plan to send a single email or a coordinated set of email marketing messages that share a single idea and theme, known as a campaign, you will want to know how effective it is.

Of course, as always, you need to monitor your sender reputation, to identify the problems that exist, so you can fix them. Remember that sender reputation is the key element in whether or not your emails make it to the Inbox. If they don't reach the Inbox, they cannot possibly succeed!

The messages that do reach the Inbox can be tracked, to measure their effectiveness ... several different statistics are collected and evaluated to accomplish this.

Clicking Around
When a recipient of your email marketing message takes action, by clicking on a link in the email, this is called a click-through. Only unique clicks should be counted. In other words, whether a particular user clicks once or several times, it should only be considered a single unique visitor to the web site.

Measuring the click-through rate (CTR) is one of the primary methods of tracking your email marketing success. CTR is the number of unique click-throughs divided by the number of times the message was delivered, called the number of impressions. Just multiply by 100, to get CTR as a percentage. For example, if your email was delivered 100 times and one person clicked on a link in it, the CTR would be 1%.

Sometimes, however, CTR is defined as the number of clicks divided by the number of impressions, which results in a much higher CTR, since every additional click by the same user increases the CTR. You should always make sure you know how the CTR is being calculated.

According to Wikipedia, CTR is typically much less than one percent, though personalized and targeted messages tend to result in higher rates.

Another potential factor that can skew the results is counting every email sent, rather than just those that reach the Inbox.

Opening the Door
Another important item that is tracked is the open rate, which is the number of message recipients who opened your email. This is usually expressed as a percentage of the total number of emails sent. Unfortunately, however, the rate indicates the number of emails opened from the total amount sent, not just those that were delivered to the Inbox. Additionally, this key metric cannot be calculated on text emails, but only on HTML emails.
A related metric is the number of times a link was clicked, out of the total number of opened emails, typically represented as a percentage. This is called the click-to-open rate. The worth of this number is again diminished by the fact that only HTML emails are included and the fact that it uses the total number sent, not the number that reached the Inbox. To determine the click-to-open rate, divide the number of responses (clicks) by the number of emails opened and multiply by 100, to express the result as a percentage.

Gauging the Potential with a Test Campaign
If at all possible, email marketers should first send a test campaign to a list of email addresses not in the deployment database, to determine likely response rates and how well the different elements in the message perform. Then, adjustments can be made, to increase the likelihood of a successful campaign.

How Do We Measure Success? - Converting the Recipients
Whether the objective is to get more users to sign up for an email newsletter, download a white paper, or purchase a product on the web site, a conversion is tallied, when the user performs the desired action.

The conversion rate is the number of recipients that completed a desired action in an email message compared to the total list size, represented as a percentage. To determine the conversion rate, divide the number of recipients who completed the desired action by the number of emails sent and multiply by 100.

Conversion rate is the best measure of your email campaign's success.

Next time, we'll discuss the different ways the costs associated with an email marketing campaign are determined.

All Web Email gives you all the tools and help you need to send and track successful email campaigns!

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