Email Subject Lines Critical

 Let’s hope your email subject line doesn’t read like this

Everyone can be embarrassed by sending out emails with subject lines which don’t exactly convey what you mean. Like the one depicted above which came from an organization seeking to intrigue people who need to overcome the sales challenge of “but.” However, the subject line of the email was poorly worded and implied something other than their hoped for call to open. Their subject line actually read:

Need to sell butttt….. Then come to this workshop!

Email subject lines are the first opportunity you have for your email marketing to work for you. If they use language which is too salesy or off message, they will be marked by most email programs as spam.

MailChimp, our preferred email marketing platform notes,

The best email subject lines are short, descriptive and provide the reader with a reason to explore your message further. Splashy or cheesy phrases more often cause your email to be ignored rather than make them stand out.

Avoid subjects with words which lower open rates

Stop words are things like FREE, Open Now, Free Offer. Even if the subject line doesn’t have these words, MailChimp reports there are some words which will cause lower open rates.

We identified innocuous words that won’t trigger a spam filter, but will negatively affect your open rates. They are: Help, Percent off, and Reminder.

Writing a clear call to open that is helpful, localized and precise increases your open rates.

The latest data reported by Marketing Charts from a Return Path study show that subject lines between 61 and 70 characters receive the highest open rates.


Avoid clickbait subjects

And think again if you are planning to try some clickbait subject lines that incite a strong reaction just to get readers to open. The study from Return Path notes:

“Clickbait” subject lines generally don’t do well, surprisingly, with “secret of” terms (-8.69%) having a significantly below-average read rate

If you’re using MailChimp, Constant Contact or Vertical Response, you have an opportunity to test the subject of your email to help verify what results you might get. If you don’t have the tools to review subject lines, refer to your open rates and analyze subjects which have the highest open rate for you then cross that to an analysis of the number of characters in your subject line in order to develop even better open rates.

When working with our clients, we’ve seen high open rates for emails with Welcome and Thank you in the subject lines, especially when the emails go to new subscribers. Seasonal messages with good wishes also are highly opened.

If you’re not already using email marketing to keep in touch with your customers or prospects, you might want to reconsider that decision. Email marketing remains the single one to one marketing tactic which continues to perform well for businesses across the board. It’s not expensive and it’s effective.


To get started with your email marketing, call us at 843-628-6434 or email us via our website contact form.

Digital Marketing Fundamentals

Up your game with digital marketing strategy

Small businesses need digital marketing. Effective use of it can set your business apart and help you compete with larger businesses.

Through its strategic use you can develop and sustain a positive relationship with your clients, keep them informed about seasonal sales, help them find your firm when they need the types of services or products you sell and get to know the people behind the business. As my colleague Ashley T. Caldwell of The Modern Connection says, “you can humanize your company.”

Components of a solid digital marketing strategy include:

  1. Content Strategy
  2. SEO
  3. Blogging
  4. Social Media
  5. Email marketing
  6. Pay per click marketing

In the presentation below, given for SCORE (Charleston Chapter 285), I cover some of the fundamentals which support the development of a strategically aligned digital marketing campaign.

Consultations for small business owners

Do you need help creating a digital marketing strategy? Our consultations for small businesses are affordable and help get you going in the right direction. Get the details on our small business consultations.

Tips to Make Your Email Marketing Newsletter Better

Review the email marketing newsletter examples by clicking on a thumbnail.

We all receive many HTML email marketing newsletters extolling products and services. Some are a delight to receive. They have high open rates and a high click-through rate. And conversely, some are a snooze-fest which you delete upon opening.

Are your newsletters read with delight? If not, what can you do to make them better?

10 Tips to make your email marketing newsletters better:

1. Use a double opt-in email platform. There are many which exist. Our favorite* is MailChimp. Others in the market are Constant Contact, Vertical Response and Emma. Though these are only a few of the tremendous variety. Most have free trial programs so you can try out their services. Double opt in systems are important to keep you compliant with CAN Spam laws. Other reasons to use a platform include analytic tools to measure performance.

2. Invest in your own custom template. You have taken care to use your branding in other aspects of your products and services. Don’t stop with your email marketing newsletter template. Go the extra mile and make all elements match your website and brand standards. Have your graphic designer create a custom header for your newsletter or have your web developer code a custom template which you can upload to the email marketing platform.

3. Author well-written, compelling and useful articles which help or inform your customers or solve a problem for them. Start by answering common questions or sharing a brief how to (as we’re doing here.) Keep them informed with updates from your company regarding your news too. Avoid salesy company speak. Keep it real and non-corporate.

4. Always link your newsletter header to your website.

5. Learn some basic formatting tips to organize your copy to make it more readable. In the example above, we’ve called out a few ways in which this newsletter might be improved. (Click on the example to see the full overview.)

6. Give your content room to breathe. Increase leading (the spacing between lines) to give a sense of ahhh. Make sure your margins (sometimes called padding in HTML newsletters) is ample, allowing the reader to avoid feeling you’ve shoehorned your text into the space.

7. Use subheads to break up long articles. Magazines and newspapers do it. So should you. Subheads should continue your thoughts and lead you logically into the next paragraph.

8. Use images, graphs and photos. Illustrate your articles to prevent visual fatigue. There is a reason that many proclaim “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Images can illustrate a concept, or may be a chart of data. Keep them relevant to the article or paragraph in which they are contained. Allow copy to flow around them unless you are using them as a section break or ornament.

9. Make sure your headlines contrast with the content around them. You can create contrast with color and font.

Font styles-serif and sans serif

a. Fonts If your body copy is in a sans serif font use a serif font for your headline and subheads. If you start building your template from a standard one, frequently there are font and style definitions for body (often called paragraph,) primary headline, article headline and sub-headlines. These may be specified in your configuration area as H1, H2, or H3 and copy or paragraph. If you have contrast and balance between font color, font weight and font size for paragraph, and headlines/article titles, and remain consistent to a defined brand scheme, you will have a more pleasing newsletter. It is important to observe that all fonts are not created equal and it’s better to use common browser font families for HTML newsletters so you have a consistent reader experience. Common font stacks are groups of comparable of fonts which render similarly to one another and are common to most browsers (many people don’t rely on desktop email readers, preferring to read their email in webmail applications such as Gmail, Yahoo Mail and Outlook.)

b. Colors are another way to add contrast. In the example above, the article headline is kelly green which does not contrast enough against the dark blue. A better contrast might have been light blue or white in a serif font with a stronger stroke, giving a greater visual weight.

10. Know when enough is enough. Everyone avoids their Aunt Martha who bores them with long, uninteresting articles. The same is true with your email marketing newsletters. Say only what you must say. Keep it direct, short, and punchy. Or write more frequently so your newsletters only contain one long article.

Additional thoughts on email marketing newsletters

Create an editorial calendar and stick to it. Hold editorial meetings with your team and brainstorm content for the newsletter. You can also invite members of the team to author regular features to add a diversity of voice and content.

Invite reader feedback and monitor your open, bounce and time to open statistics. Try varying delivery times and monitor opens to see which time achieves the highest open rates.

With consistent work, you can use email marketing to help create more awareness of your company, position your firm and increase leads.

If you would like us to critique your email marketing newsletters, give us a shout. We’ll be glad to evaluate yours and provide our recommendations to fine-tune your newsletter. Give us a call. 843-628-6434.

*We have not been paid to endorse or recommend any of these platforms. We do so only as a help for you.