THE ULTIMATE SUBJECT LINE MISTAKES: ARE YOU MAKING THEM?

Subject lines are one of the costliest things to get wrong. Done badly and you’re:

  • Wasting money on advertising
  • Wasting time on writing emails that go unopened and trashed
  • Wasting time AND money on repeating the above because you don't know any better…

Yet.

So let’s start with fundamentals. The whole point of a subject line (and headline) is to hook your prospect, reel them in, and coax them into some sort of action. It's like sticking a sign outside your shop advertising a deal that's just too good to pass up. 

But the majority of businesses find themselves either:

  • Unsubscribed from
  • Removed from a "Safe Sender" list
  • Filtered out

Let’s look at why...

 

1. FAILURE TO MAKE IT PERSONAL

It's hard to believe that businesses are still boxing themselves into corporate formality in 2016.

Consumers want two things:

  • To buy products that are sexy to make them feel sexy (Apple, anyone?)
  • To engage with real people at every stage of the buying cycle.

A study by Experian found that personalised emails deliver 6X higher transaction rates, yet 70% of brands fail to use them… which means you're wasting your time doing ANYTHING else.

Personalisation is now the most effective way to get communications read.

This method goes beyond sticking a customer’s first name in an email subject line and pressing send (it's obvious that it's automated, and everyone’s doing it).

No, it's about dialling down the corporate-vibe and making the reader feel that the conversation is happening between just you and them.

So let’s look at a few examples of emails that got open rates of over 30%…

"SAW THIS AND THOUGHT OF YOU [FIRST NAME]"

"CAN I ASK YOU SOMETHING?"

"QUICK QUESTION ABOUT [COMPANY NAME]"

These conversations could be happening between two close pals...

Orrrrr they could be emails to a cold list.

Who knows.

The point is, you can't really tell.

Personalising your communications is the ONLY way to stop your customers' eyes from glazing over. Everything you send out MUST force your readers to read the first line, then the next, and the next, and the next...

Subject lines and headlines are the MOST valuable real estate in a world of shrinking attention spans. If you don't want to be lost in the shuffle of similar messages, tell your stories and engage your readers through personalised communications FIRST, before you even think about harpooning them with the hard sell. 

 

2. FAILURE TO INCLUDE A BENEFIT

Customers are busy. They also live in a world of hyper-communication which means a constant filtering out of 90% of the advertising noise around them… and you’ve got to find a way to cut through that.

Actually, it’s not as hard as it sounds – providing you're spending more time promoting the benefits of your product or service instead of its features.

In the early noughties, the average consumer’s attention span was 12 seconds. Now, that number is nearer 8. 

If 1 or 2 seconds are spent reading the subject line, it needs to be clear and stripped of fluffy buzzwords and jargon (let’s face it - no one, not even the corporations themselves, like reading that drivel)…

Take a look at these examples, and think about creating variations that work for you...

“Get 50% more output for a third of the price”

“[PRODUCT] CLEARS SKIN IN 3 DAYS OR YOUR MONEY BACK”

By including a specific benefit or time-bound promise, you'll attract prospects who are looking for what it is you offer and are ready to buy NOW, which means you spend less time on lengthy qualification processes filtering out the time wasters and ‘maybe laters’.

Remember, you only have 8 seconds to grab attention. Use it wisely.

 

3. FAILURE TO DELIVER ON PROMISES

Armed with your personalised, benefit-led subject line, you’re now ready to reach the masses…

But wait - can you actually make good on your promise?

Don’t trick people into opening your emails.

For example:

“Re: Will you be attending?”

(misleading the recipient into thinking this is a response to a thread is a great way to get unsubscribed from)

“AN EXCLUSIVE OFFER - JUST FOR YOU”

(If you're emailing your entire database with the same offer, don't say it's exclusive. Your prospect WILL know)

Ultimately, it only takes one or two broken promises to end up blacklisted - not just by your prospect, but also by your email marketing software. Cut off from your list and source of income, you're in big trouble.

 

START IMPLEMENTING THESE TIPS TODAY...

If you want to outpace competition for next to nothing, your first step is to master the art of writing subject lines and put it into practice.

Don't be a wallflower. Start practicing the craft and upskilling yourself.

Remember - whether it’s homemade lemonade or a clothing line, the most successful businesses:

  • Know their market
  • Pay attention to what people want
  • Serve up solutions in ways that interrupt the daily grind.

 

GOT A SUBJECT LINE THAT NEEDS A SECOND PAIR OF EYES?

Send me a message here and I'll give it the once over (if you want someone to take care of your communications for you, we can talk about that too).

 
Karla Alexander