Expanding on our earlier post about re-engagement, we thought we would talk a bit about subject lines specifically for re-engagement campaigns.
I’m sure we all agree, the subject line is really the door to the email, that really hooks you and gets you to open it, (The email that is, not the door) Of course other factors are just as important, but for today, the guy in the hot seat is the subject line.
We take some inspiration from Tim Watson from Smart Insights who recently presented at the DMA Email Customer Lifecycle Win-back breakfast seminar. He has provided a full write up which you can read here but we know you are busy and we thought you might like a summary.
So what makes for a winning subject line? Tim says the tone and voice must reflect the current state of relationship to the person you are communicating. He says for your active/engaged subscribers, the usual incentive based ‘hey it’s us again, here’s 20% off just for you’ subject line works, however for disengaged customers, a different type of subject line is needed. People are people regardless of the brand or what they are purchasing, and they may be inactive or disengaged for a reason so don’t just launch in and stuff your products down their throat without first asking what’s going on for them. So, some good principles to follow are:
- It should be different to the subject line of a normal marketing message.
- It should be simple and honest
- It should have a conversational style
- It should NOT try to sell anything
- Questions work very well
Here is a little case study for you. Three companies ran subject line split tests to find the best performing subject line. The three winning subject lines were:
- Was it something we said?
- Are we still welcome in your inbox?
- Is this goodbye?
These three winning subject lines are from independent tests, from different companies, with different audiences. Yet it is very interesting to note they are all questions, and all so similar.
And apparently, the words free, win or save in the subject line were also tested and found to decrease the response rate when directed at inactive subscribers. So steer away from these in this context.
We suggest as a good rule of thumb, to keep the subject line for your re-engagement campaigns to inactive subscribers honest, simple, conversational, don’t sell anything, don’t assume anything, and preferably use a question. Also be open to offering an incentive in the email if appropriate. I would even suggest using a feedback form to get some information around why these subscribers are inactive, and use this as an opportunity to enhance your communications and learn what your subscribers want.
PS – want some more examples? Read this post on effective subject lines.