March 19, 2015

Your Subject Line should Signal Your Intentions


You might think it’s a good idea to use a subject line that will make people curious about what’s inside the email - a teaser. That tactic can work well if the sender is familiar. But generally, if that’s the case, there’s no need to trick people into opening. And, if that isn't the case, there better be something really amazing within the email or your reader will feel duped - not a good thing!

Instead, consider a subject line that clearly signals what’s within. When people know what they will get and it’s relevant to them, they'll open. If it’s not relevant, they can ignore, and ignoring is much better than unsubscribing.

Consider this example: Among the many emails in my inbox every day, I found one from my local pub with the subject line ‘Open me. I’m Irish!’ The combination of the sender and the subject line meant I immediately knew they're writing to tell me about what was going on for St. Patrick’s Day, perhaps food specials and entertainment.
  1. If I was planning to go out and celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, I'd open it right away.
  2. If I wasn't, I'd delete it without opening it. I’m not interested in St. Patrick’s Day, but when the summer patio specials start, I want to know.
  3. And, if I wasn't sure, I'd probably leave it in my inbox for a couple of days as a reminder.
I could make all those decisions without opening the email, which saved me time.

Not every newsletter or marketing message you send will be relevant to every subscriber. Make it easy for them to know. Saving people time is a valuable thing and this strategy also grows trust.