When someone receives an email they skim the From Name, and then the Subject Line in quick succession, which makes these two areas the ‘gatekeepers’ for each message.
If you are a marketer relying on email to communicate with your audience you need to get past these ‘gatekeepers’.
Firstly you need a From Name that ticks three boxes: it must be recognised, trusted and relevant to the reader right now. An email from my mum ticks all three every time. With a business it’s a little more complex. Even if I know ‘Air New Zealand’ and I love travelling with them, this year I am on a tight budget and so right now you are not ‘relevant’ to me. I might think ‘I have no intention of being tempted into reading your email offers no matter how good they are, and I will delete every email you send.’
It’s good to bear this in mind when you review your email campaign reporting as there simply will never be 100% of your database read your message – I’m on holiday, the dog died, this report is due – basically life gets in the way. I suggest a rule of thumb that the ‘top mark’ possible is closer to 75% so if your open rate is 35% then that’s about half of your possible audience – a great result.
From another angle, it’s good to bear this ‘triage’ behaviour pattern in mind when you undertake engagement analysis of your database – Who reads every email? Who has stopped reading? It’s important to make sure the ‘zombies’ who are effectively dead to your brand are cleaned out on a regular basis for email deliverability, so we do actively encourage this exercise. But. Just because I’m not opening your emails right now doesn’t mean I don’t want you to keep sending them. I may well just be on a tight budget for a few months. Arrgggh! Why does email marketing have to be so complicated!
Assuming your email has passed the above gatekeeping/triage process of the From Name, next up your reader is looking to the Subject line for indication of a value exchange that is in his or her favour. Their time is worth an awful lot to them. Your email must deliver more value in order for it to be open and read. And so your subject line needs to hint at that value as clearly and quickly as possible.
To get a Subject Line right, there are many many many possible approaches to take. The subject line is often promoted as a good thing to ‘test’ and see if your readers respond better to a particular set of words, or tone. The reason testing is good idea is that the answer to the question ‘What works best?’ is almost always ‘It depends’. I have seen tests show more words work better to get clicks in the email, and I have seen tests show that less words work best. Similarly I have seen marketers use a set format for every campaign of a similar ‘type’, and I have seen people change the format for every single email they send, to good result.
Focus on clearly describing the value that is within your email, and then make sure you deliver that value in a way that makes sense and is easy and intuitive to action for your reader. We have written about good subject lines before – read those posts here and an older post about the importance of your From name is here.
Now you are fully equipped to get past the first two hurdles of a successful email campaign, how do you ensure it makes you lots of money? That’s fodder for the next article or ten. See you then.