OPEN NOW! - The Power of the Subject Line

Recently, I attended a webinar from Patron Technology on how to effectively use the subject line in e-mail marketing messages. And they should know! Patron Technology, a sponsor of the 2008 Technology in the Arts Conference, has been on e-mail marketing with arts organizations for years with its PatronMail service. Why does the subject line matter?

According to Christine Blodgett at Patron Technology, "The subject line IS the marketing message. It is your first point of contact with an e-mail recipient. If they don't like it, then they won't open it. If they don't open it, then it won't produce the desired effect."

A recent survey conducted by Return Path reveals the subject line to be the third most important factor for determining whether or not someone will open an e-mail marketing message.

So how do can we best harness the power of the subject line?

Make every word matter - When you look at your inbox list, how many words do you typically see in the subject line? Not very many, right? So:

  1. Keep it concise - Under 50 characters (approximately 7 to 10 words)
  2. Pay attention to word placement - Place incentivizing phrases ("Free tickets for.."), time-based phrases ("Last chance to..."), and informative labels ("______ Monthly Bulletin") toward the beginning of the subject line.
  3. Be clear - Tell them what's inside. Make sure the content promised in the subject line is easy to find in the e-mail.
  4. Be honest - DON'T oversell it!
  5. Be consistent - If you have a type of message that you send out on a regular basis (like an e-newsletter), make sure to label them in a consistent way so that recipients will easily recognize them in their Inboxes.