Ideas to Make Your eDM Email Subject Lines Work

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The bitter truth: The vast majority of email newsletters, promotional campaigns, and email blasts never make their way past the crowded in boxes of their recipients.

Those that did manage to get views did so thanks to how users evaluated email subject lines and sender information.

Successful emails reach users who are confident enough to open them, and the keys to this are clear, easily recognisable sender information, and concise, well-written subject lines. Both factors help users make informed decisions on whether or not to open or bypass an email message.

Web usability experts the Nielsen/Norman Group (NN/g) put together some guidelines on how to create effective subject lines that should increase the chances of your emails’ success with users.

  1. Incorporate content into subject lines

With the mad rush of information reducing web users’ internet attention spans, email subject lines should let users know the kind of content the newsletter contains. Users want to know what’s in a message right away through the headline, and while it may seem like a good idea to tease users into reading a message, this is not the case with emails.

The argument against being too direct with subject lines is that users might not open an email newsletter if they see the content in the subject line right away.

NN/g however, notes that it’s much better to keep users informed and allow them to make a decision instead of forcing them to open the message only for them to have no interest in it. Most users may not even bother doing this, deleting the message instead. The interaction cost is simply too high with no clear benefit to the user. fail

We at Enform agree with NN/g’s assertion  that it’s much better to have some messages fail to be opened by some users, than risk penalizing them with opening messages they don’t like.

However, be aware that Junk mail and anti-SPAM filters look at subject lines very closely so go easy on the “killer sales” language.

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  1. Place keywords into the subject line and limit it to 40 characters

For optimal viewing of subject lines, it’s best to stay within the character limits set by email programs. Because character limits vary between programs (not to mention they can change over time), it’s best to stay within the safe limit of 40 characters.

The most important content should be placed right at the beginning of the subject line to prevent it from being cut off. Keywords that carry the most information and are the most descriptive should take prime real estate. Avoid the common mistake below:

(Company Name) Newsletter: The Annual Clearance Sale is Here

The first 3 words in the subject line above could have been put to better use, replaced with more meatier keywords such as the discounts being offered in the sale, the date of the promotion, what products are on sale, and more.

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  1. Avoid redundancies

We already mentioned how important it is to select the right keywords for the subject line, so by all means, don’t repeat things like the sender information in your subject line. While it’s important to let users know whom their newsletters are coming from, don’t waste valuable space repeating information that could’ve been replaced with something important.

Remember, you have less than 15 seconds to get the readers attention with your email or eDM message, make it count.