The next time you create an email campaign, try to use a ‘from address’ and ‘subject line’ with the assumption that no one is going to open your message. I know this seems backwards, but trust me on this one. Most of us put our energies in to creating a clever subject with the sole intention of getting the content opened. But more than three out of four commercial email messages are never opened, and if they are, the content is scanned in less than three seconds. That is hardly enough time to get your entire message across. But if the ‘from address’ and ‘subject line’ get the same three seconds, that is definitely long enough to make a positive brand impression and possibly a website visit before the delete key is pressed.
Let’s start with the ‘from address’. The simple fact is this: if the recipient does not know who you are as a sender, the likelihood that your message is opened falls to less than one in ten. So brand your ‘from address.’ Tell the recipient who you are, and use the entire ‘from address.’ The ‘from address’ has two parts, the actual email address and the name associated with the email address. Most email clients will display the name associated with the email address, if there is one. This part of the email address can be a person’s name, the organization’s name or division, or it can even be used as a mini subject such as: “Special Offers” firstname.lastname@example.org. Once you pick an effective ‘from address,’ stick to it, and ask your list members to add the ‘from address’ to their address book or contact list. This will keep your messages out of the spam/bulk/junk folder. A quick “don’t” before moving on to designing a message subject: Email marketers should never use the infamous “do-not-reply” in any part of the ‘from address.’ This type of ‘from address’ is reserved for transactional notices, and it really takes away the personal connection you might make with your list members.
The key to an effective subject is pretty straight forward. Keep it short, clear, and have it convey relevance and urgency. A well-designed subject can deliver a meaningful message that will drive traffic to a website without the message being opened. The length of the subject definitely matters, and the shorter the better. Most email clients will display around 50 characters, and many mobile devices will display half that. This is not a lot of space, so you have to focus on one key point that really summarizes or highlights the message content. Always front load the subject; keeping in mind that some recipients will only read the first 3 or 4 words before hitting the delete key or moving on to the next message. Also adding a sense of urgency to the subject can help to strengthen a call to action. Simple but effective subjects that allow the recipient to bypass the content and go straight to the website might be:
Win a free iPod when you try companyxyz.com
Save 25% on all orders for the next 3 days at companyxyz.com
Coupons and More – Your savings start now at companyxyz.com
Notice in the example above how the organization’s name or website is at the end of the subject. This is because it is also displayed in the ‘from address’ and could be considered redundant, so if it is cut off by a mobile device the subject does not lose its relevance.
A subject should never be intentionally deceptive. This will only lead to unwanted spam complaints. Also, merging in a list member’s name or company into the subject is a waste of valuable real estate. As mentioned previously, only so many characters are displayed, and the recipient already know his or her name is – you do not need to remind them.
The goal is not for marketers to forget about the importance of well thought-out, targeted content, but to highlight the time restriction their email audience is under when it comes to reading mail messages. If your message is only going to be scanned for 3 seconds and never opened, you want to make sure you have it branded, that it gets the point across and has every possibility to be acted upon later.