Posts Tagged ‘subject line’

It is never to early to prepare for Christmas, especially if you are an elf – they prepare all year long.  So we thought we could help out by sharing our tips for maximising the effectiveness of your Christmas campaign, and help you stand out amongst all the other Christmas mail.

1. The first step is to prepare.

It’s the Christmas season and everyone gets busy, every year, so plan to plan well in advance. After spending all year building rapport with customers and sending great email campaigns, the last thing you want to do is hurriedly put together a last minute Christmas email. This is where it counts! Send something they’ll remember all of next year and keep them coming back for more. So here are our top pointers:

a. Think about who your target audience is.
WHAT are you offering?
WHY you are offering it?
HOW often you will email people?
Will you set up a fun series of Christmas emails, or send just the one super Christmas email?

b. Keep in mind the relevancy of the campaign to the recipients. Those Christmas garden galoshes may be superb, but if you are sending them to someone who would rather hear about your garden cricket set, you have lost a major opportunity to both appeal to your customers and sell them something. And with everyone struggling to be heard at Christmas, relevancy is more important than ever! Mail that is tailored to your recipients and personalised will grab their attention over the emails that are bland and generic. So think about how you can tailor your Christmas campaigns to your recipients.

2. When you lure them in, where are they going to go?

a. If you are on Pinterest and if it’s relevant to your brand, why not make a Christmas board full of gift ideas, with each product image linking back to your website  to drive traffic. Just look at all the Christmas posts on Pinterest! Then once your board is full of pretty pictures, click here to read about how to integrate it into your email campaign.

b. You are getting your seasonal campaigns designed, and the Christmas rush is looming  - but before you send that campaign and drive all that traffic to your site, check what you are doing online first. If you have an eCommerce site then you’ll love these insights we heard from Google and the Australian Centre for Retail Studies at a NZRA online retailers seminar this month.

3. The first thing someone sees  is your subject line.

a. If you have done all that planning, and gone to all the effort of making a beautiful Christmas email, but people don’t open it because of the subject line, then it doesn’t matter how great your email is, or how many cute elves are singing in it – getting your subject line right is #1. For more info read this post on creating effective subject lines – and this post on using special characters in your subject line to help you stand out.

b. Make sure your subject line is intriguing, catchy and stands out amongst the rest. Some key things to think about are whether or not personalisation is relevant or suitable. Also you don’t want your email getting picked up by spam filters, so avoid using words like “sale” and “free” too much.

3. Once you have got into their inbox….

a. A creative, well designed email with a Christmas theme that is interactive and fun is great for this time of year. Also, sending your clients an email to thank them for their loyalty over the past year is a great way to encourage loyalty in the coming year and make your clients feel appreciated. So make it a goal of yours this year to have the smartest and most memorable Christmas message of all!

b. If you would like any ideas, our creative team has loads! Get in touch with us now

I came across this great article while I was researching email testing techniques.  It’s from Clickz and it’s called 6 email tests to try.  They suggest that you test the From line, the Subject line, Mobile versions, Data Security, Opt In processes, and SMS functionality.

Here at Jericho we have the responsibility to oversee some of the most beautiful and effective email campaigns in our ‘hood.  To ensure consistent quality, we have built in our own comprehensive testing procedures and have created check-lists such as this Jericho_Email_Campaign_Checklist which we run through for each and every single campaign we do, which includes the following checks:

- Subject Line
- From Name
- From Email
- Reply Email
- Pre-header copy and links
- URL Links
- Mailto Links
- Text Only Version
- Unsubscribe Link
- Preference Centre
- Links to Forms/Surveys
- Social Sharing Links
- Refer a Friend
- Forward to a Friend
- Data /Segmentation/Audience
- Google Analytics Tracking Codes
- Links to Landing Pages
- Footer information and links

There are some fundamental basics in here and there are some features that only some campaigns will include but all these things need to be checked to ensure they are working before you deploy. There are also a host of other things to check beyond the parts of the email itself, such as:

Internal Testing – Have you tested to yourself? Your colleagues? Have you done a test of the emails with your subscribers data to ensure it all looks right and all the data is pulling through correctly? When you have looked at something 100 times, the best thing you can do is have another set of eyes review it before you push send.

Litmus Testing – Have you tested the email across all devices and email clients? Does it pass all spam filter tests? How does the subject line and pre-header look in the preview pane of the inbox? Doing a litmus test allows you to see how your email displays across all email clients and devices and identify if there is any content likely to cause it to get caught up in spam filters.

Mobile Optimised Version – Do you have a mobile optimised version of your email? Have you tested the mobile optimised version on all different mobile devices?  If you have a responsive design that is great. Hopefully you at least have a  mobile optimised version of your email as about half of all email opens now happen on mobile, and if it doesn’t display correctly, and instantly, most people delete the email.

Subject Line – We find the best subject lines are between 5-12 words long, the best of all being under 35 characters long so it fits on the mobile preview pane. Make it catchy, attention getting, funny even, just make sure it says what the email is about. My favourite subject line? ‘Fresh Daily Visual from Visual News’. (5 words and 35 characters long exactly) Just be sure to check the subject line before you push send!

The key thing is to test what is important or prominent for your campaigns and your communication streams. Some people might be comparing send times, while others are testing subject lines, while another might just want to send out a link to a survey – so that link has to work! If your emphasis is on social sharing, make sure the social networking and sharing functionality is a shiny beacon of enticing fun and technical perfection. Just make sure you make time to test all the basics that we should be getting right by now, and then feel free to freestyle from there.

We are looking for the best and worst testing success or failure stories ever! Send them through!



If you are not yet running an integrated, segmented, personalized, customized, dynamic, responsive, multi-channel email marketing program… don’t fret, you are not alone! And yes you can still make email marketing work for you.

Most email marketers will always be talking about the most cutting edge developments and recommending you implement all the latest complex technical solutions and best practices. Those solutions are great for those who need and want them. However we realise that implementing these tactics and strategies are not always realistic or achievable for most people doing email marketing within their SMB, or those with just one staff member, a limited budget and 3 hours a week.

We recognise email marketing demands resources, skills or time that often just isn’t available. In the always shifting digital industry and the constant changes and push to get ahead, we sometimes forget to make sure we’ve got the basics right.

So instead of thinking about how to implement the most advanced, complex campaign ever because we told you to, we recommend you walk before you run – start by getting the basics right, and concentrate on what you actually need to do and what your customers want from you.

The basics for you could be as simple as:
Optimising your subject line
Changing your from name to increase opens
Making sure you include pre-header text and your company information in the footer
Implementing a testing process for your email before you deploy it to make sure it’s 100%
Regularly carrying out data hygiene on your list to ensure your database is as clean as it can be
Update your email content so it is shorter, simpler, and more visual. (If that’s what your audience wants)

You don’t need to be the flashiest or most hi-tech email on the block – leave that to the big companies with the staff, the budget and the time. Concentrate on winning over your audience by sending a quality, timely, relevant and targeted email that that your subscribers look forward to opening.

Once you have mastered all the basics and you are seeing consistent improvements in things like open rates, clickthroughs, and engagement for example, then come talk to us about implementing that integrated, segmented, personalized, customized, dynamic, responsive, multi-channel email marketing program you’ve been dreaming about!

Because it’s amazing what you can achieve with a team of email marketing experts at your side.

You’ve spent all that time planning customer segments and creating targeted content for them – so it makes sense to test, to ensure you’re hitting the mark. And the best way to do that is with an A/B test. An A/B split test basically compares two versions of one email campaign where some elements can be different so you can test which is the most effective, and find out what works and what doesn’t for your audience.

Select some key elements and segment groups and A/B testing will give you immediate and clear feedback on how well you’re matching content to subscriber segments. Some of the most crucial attributes you can test are:

- Subject lines: Test everything from your choice of words, to the tone of the language, use humour or be serious, test symbols vs. no symbols, etc.

- From name: A company name may work better than an individual’s name, or vice versa.

- Feature article:

- Offer or Promotion: Test whether having an offer in your email boosts open rates or clickthroughs, and see if your audience respond to discounts or promotions - it may not suit everyone. Keep in mind the experts recommend that you use an incentive only after the 3rd re-engagement or cart abandonment email, so don’t offer things too easily – however when used appropriately they can be effective.

- Send time: Yes there are the well known and much favoured ‘best days to send’ and ‘best times to send’ however it may not necessarily be relevant for your campaign or your audience, so test both these factors.

- Calls to action: The size, colour, placement, and design of the call to action can all have an impact on the effectiveness of your CTA. Too small and people won’t see it…. to bright and colourful and it may look like spam to your readers. The wrong words and it may not appeal to your subscribers. This is an element that can be done in so many ways it pays to test all possible variations.

- Landing pages: Landing pages are perfect for hosting additional content, which means your email can stay nice and brief. Test whether linking to landing pages that hold extra content works for your campaign.

- Email length: Some companies opt for short emails, some longer. Again it depends on your communication, the audience, etc. as to what is most appropriate.
With A/B testing you can test two different subject lines (Or test using any of the other elements mentioned above) and then send that to two test groups and then deploy the campaign with the most successful subject line (or whichever element you used that performed better and this will help maximise your open rates and clickthroughs and you also learn what works with your subscribers for future campaigns.

The A/B testing tool in SmartMail Pro is designed to be managed entirely independently by you. Read more on this here.

You can just sit there and watch those carts pile up and those potential customers walk away…


You could be really proactive and create yourself a cart abandonment email like Shoes of Prey did. Who are Shoes of Prey? It is a site where you can design and create your own shoes and get them delivered. You can check out their awesome email on the right – just click on the image.

Did you know the average shopping cart abandonment rate in the US is 65%! That is 65% of your potential clientele that is leaving right now and maybe not ever coming back if you don’t have an automated cart abandonment program in place.

However some companies have reported that following up with those abandoners by email yields a 50% conversion rate, and that their cart abandonment programmes account for one third of the total of yearly email converted sales! Wow, let’s get started!!

Let’s just back up for a moment….. What exactly is shopping cart abandonment?
It is where someone has started the process of purchasing something through your ecommerce store and for some reason they have not completed the purchase.

What are some of the key reasons people abandon their carts?
The top reasons are as follows:
44% is because the shipping costs are perceived to be too high
41% are just not quite ready to make the purchase
25% decide the price is too high or may have seen it cheaper elsewhere
24% want to save them for consideration

How exactly do you structure this ‘cart abandonment programme’?
Some companies have cart abandonment email program that spans a few days, where the first email goes out on day 1, the second email goes out on day 3 and the third email goes out on day 5. That seems to be best practice.

When exactly should the first cart abandonment email be sent?
Some experts recommend that you send it between 1-2 hours after abandonment, and up to 24 hours at the latest. For the second email, 3-5 days later is good, and for the third and final email, 1 week later is appropriate.

How many emails should you send?
It’s recommended you send 1 at the minimum, 2 emails is even better, 3 is ideal, 4 or more emails may just too many.

Is incentivizing the emails a good idea?
the reported conversion rate is the same on all three follow up emails without an incentive, so be sure to incentivize your emails. The experts say use incentives but do it with tact and caution. Best practice is to include an incentive on the 3rd email of the sequence.

What else should you include in your emails?
Include clear ‘reminders’ and prompts throughout your email, such as ‘see your shopping bag’ or ‘forgot something’? Or ‘shop now’, or ‘still deciding’? or ‘you have 48 hours left to snag your buy’.

What should our emails say?
Ensure the tone of your emails is friendly, that you offer reassurance, to settle any fears about refunds, or secure purchasing, or consumer guarantees, to cover off any of the reasons that the customer may be shying away from buying.

What about the all-important subject line?
Again like the copy, include prompts or reminders – here are some examples:
Free shipping if you complete your order in the net 24hours
You still have items in your cart
Forgot something?
A reminder from (Company Name)
Your cart is getting lonely
We are still holding your items for you
Items in your cart are still available for purchase

In summary:
Be humorous, but be professional too. Be sure you are being completely clear in your copy, subject line, call to action, and feel free to offer an incentive. And if you want to look at implementing such a programme you can start by creating a single email to start with, roll that out, test it, optimise it, analyse how that works, then perhaps add a second or even a third email into the series later.

PS – 87% of consumers abandon their carts, but 75% say they will return to complete their purchase later. So don’t panic. And don’t worry you are not alone, because just 40% of companies have such an email ‘re-marketing’ technique in place.

Following on from our post about how your From Name and Subject Line act as the gatekeepers to your email campaigns, (Click here to read) we are now going to tell you the formula for creating the ultimate subject line so you can increase your chances of your campaign standing out, getting opened, and getting read.

As we’ve said before, prompting the open by getting past the first ‘gatekeepers’ is the primary goal, because you can’t count clickthroughs – much less sell something -  if no-one opens your email.

So with so many people receiving many emails, deleting and filtering, how do you get your subscribers attention? A great subject line gets your email opened.



Spam filters can be triggered by a variety of reasons, rarely will specific words like ‘sale’ or ‘free’ get you a one way ticket into the spam folder – filters are changing and it takes a combination of things to really mark your email as spam. So don’t be afraid to put in the odd exclamation mark, you can use all caps, even the word free or sale is fine.

The key is to use these words sparingly. Spam filters assign points to ‘spam’ words, and if the points exceed a certain threshold then the email is considered spam.  However if you just use one or two of these words and symbols throughout your email or even just in the subject line, they won’t automatically mark your email as spam – you may have heard us say before that while content filtering is important, there are now other factors like your sender reputation and engagement metrics that are much more important.


You may have heard a lot of talk about geo-location lately – well collecting and using geo-location data to create more relevant and personal emails and subject lines can increase open rates.  For example, the same email content can come to life when the subject line suggests it’s especially relevant for you.  American retailer Urban Outfitters does this well with subject lines often calling out to me ‘Hey New Zealand – here’s our best sale yet’  or ‘We ship for free to Kiwis every day!’.  Extrapolate that out to your regional customers and – well you see our point.

Subject lines framed as questions have often performed better in tests. Of course you won’t be asking just any old random question – consider your audience, their interests, what your campaign is about, and frame a question around that which will pique their interest and even better if they can respond in some way you can increase engagement.  ‘How many ways can you wear this scarf?’  ‘What’s the best way to show the world you care?’.

Email marketing company MailerMailer found that longer subject lines had lower open rates and click through rates than those emails with shorter subject lines.  They found emails with 28-39 characters in the subject line had the highest open and click through rates. Considering that is about how many characters of a subject line smartphones display, that is no surprise. So the golden rule of thumb is keep it shorter than 50 characters, or at least make your point early in the sentence!


✓ There has been a craze of sorts lately with people using ✶symbols✶ in clever ways in an effort to stand out in the inbox. If used appropriately and cleverly, ✈ symbols may get you more opens, but too many symbols might start driving people crazy so again use sparingly ☂ and only if relevant ☀.  You can read our article about using symbols here.

We’ve heard recently that contrary to previous advice, using the recipient’s name in the subject line does not significantly improve open rates. If it clearly looks like a mail merge then it’s not very personalised at all and will probably have no effect, however if you use their name cleverly and in a relevant way, it may increase opens. In their July 2012 study, MailerMailer saw significantly lower click through and open rates for personalised subject lines compared to non personalised ones.   We have many clients who use this technique every time and it works very well – the answer for you is TEST it!


Keep it useful – why would your recipient want to open your email?  Tell them.

Keep it short – remember the golden rule of 50 characters.

Keep it specific – make sure it is relevant and valuable to the recipient.

Keep it timely – with everything being instant now there really is no place for old news, old jokes, or old memes – keep it fresh.

Always have a call to action – people will respond when you tell them to do something. So ask yourself why are you emailing them? What do you want them to do?  Make your CTA’s easy and ensure they make sense.

Test test test – use the A/B split test send function and test out different subject lines and learn what works for your audience.

Set expectations – clearly state what’s inside the email, and why the recipient should read it.

This advice along with the previous post on From Names and Subject lines will give you some things to work on, and we’re here if you want to talk about what works for you, what doesn’t work and how you might grow your response rates, and deliver great emails to happy customers!

Email readership on mobile devices is growing so fast that soon it will be the predominant platform for email consumption, and mobile email consumption may overtake all other platforms even sooner. We are way beyond just ‘planning for mobile’ – it is now imperative to design your campaigns and landing pages to be easy to view and work well on a mobile device.

Return Path’s Tom Sather, senior director of email research, says:

“Looking at the trend lines of our clients, we’ll probably see mobile overtaking web-mail and desktop by the end June as the preferred platform, but definitely by the end of the year.” As a result, Sather said: “Marketers need to wake up and think about their mobile strategy. More than half of all marketers have no idea if people are reading their email on mobile devices.”  

He goes on to say “A lot of people talk about optimizing email for mobile devices, which is kind of a no-brainer, but a lot of people don’t think beyond the email. If they do click on a link and they come to a landing page, is that optimised for mobile as well? Studies have shown that less than 2 percent of people will revisit an email on their desktop or laptop, so you really only have one chance to make a good first impression.”

 However, Sather cautions against discounting other platforms. “But just because mobile is the rage, don’t forget about desktop email clients such as Outlook, as well as web mail,” he said.
We agree Tom. To back that up, here is our list of the most important mobile email design considerations and best practices:

Make sure you optimise your emails and landing pages for mobile. Email open rates have increased since last year and last quarter, but click-through rates have declined. This is most likely because they are abandoned after consumers open them on mobile devices and the messages are not optimised. With mobile you only have 1 chance to get the recipient to read your email and to click through to landing pages. If you are directing people to your website or landing page and it doesn’t look good or load or operate well on mobile, people will leave – and find another site that does work.

Think about where, when and how people read emails on mobile. In a recent survey, it was discovered 70% of users read emails in bed before going to sleep or first thing before waking up. So be mindful of this in terms of your design, and don’t use bright images which might be hard on the eyes for those reading your emails in the dark or as they are just waking up.

Reduce the template width to fit a smaller screen. We recommend you set the width of your email template to 640 pixels or less. Smartphones have screens between 320 and 480 pixels wide, so if your email is 640 pixels wide it is both suitable for desktop viewing, and is suitable for viewing on smartphones too.

From name and subject line become even more important for mobile. We know the from name is important already – but it becomes even more so due to the fact that the very first thing you see on your mobile, is your from name. So this to me becomes the most important facet of the mobile email. This is closely followed by your subject line. Make sure your subject line is punchy, strong, and we recommend no longer than 35 characters. This is how many characters you see.  

Space is at a premium so make it simple and save on real estate. Use one-line pre-header text. Pre-headers are usually 1-2 lines of HTML text at the very top of the email. They are ideal for hand held devices to highlight an enticing offer, making it the first thing prospects read before they even consider downloading images. Keep key content above the fold. (This will be the top 200 to 250 pixels). This area is prime real estate for the 3 to 5 seconds a prospect is focused on your email message, so it needs to have useful, readable text, or a very clear image. Be mindful to incorporate branding and offer-driven text above the fold.

It doesn’t have to be brevity central… if it’s good enough, it will be saved for later. On a mobile you obviously have less space so eliminate unnecessary content and put the focus on the key parts of the message. However don’t strip everything out – creating mobile friendly emails is a balancing act, where your shorter message should be comfortably able to be viewed, read and actioned on a small screen. Longer messages can always be saved for when subscribers get home and can read them in full on a larger screen. Mobile users will delete any long emails that are ineffective, but they will save your email for later if it’s well designed with great content.

Bigger, Bolder call to actions – think of the thumbs! It is crucial you increase the size and padding of text links and call-to-action buttons throughout your emails. A typical adult finger covers 45 pixels, and it is no accident Apple makes all their app icons 44 x 44 pixels! Make sure your calls-to-action are padded by at least 10 to 15 pixels to avoid frustrating and accidental finger tapping errors.

Because it’s on a smaller screen, you can use larger fonts. This is where we do recommend you use a slightly larger font to keep things easy to read. However still stay with web safe fonts, and use a font size of 12-14 point for body copy and headlines at 20-22 point. Keep in mind that the larger font means you’ll have even less space, so keep your content brief.

Please do download the Jericho Mobile Email Whitepaper here now and share with your colleagues.


There is obviously a plethora of mobile infographics, links, resources, tips and advice everywhere you look however this is really intended as our list of vital mobile email design considerations that we really want you all to know….

If you have any queries please contact us, and remember we have an expert in house design team that you can contact for advice at any time.

With more and more brands online every day, everyone is competing to be seen and be read. As a result, we have overflowing in-boxes and information overload, and are resorting to content filtering or mass-deleting. So how do you cut through all this noise and stand out? What makes you shine above all the others in the inbox?

Here are our best recommendations for making sure your email is a welcome guest in the inbox….

Help your recipients curate, collate, and filter their own content
We know that people are dealing with content overload, and we know people now have many ways they can filter out content, so instead of adding to the information overload, why not be part of the solution.
*Do what Fab does and provide a preference centre link at the top of every email to help make it even easier for recipients to adjust their preferences.
*Send out an email telling your subscribers how much you appreciate them and if they would like to see more, or less of you, in the inbox all they have to do is ‘click here’ to tell you.
*Use dynamic content to ensure you are tailoring the content of your email to the subscribers as much as possible.

Provide value
Do you give people things they want? Neat things they can show off? Products and services that will help them? Tips that no-one else would know? Industry secrets? Personality, humor, fun, quirkiness and uniqueness are all ways to make your message more relevant and valuable.  But what value are you providing content wise? Even if you just sell sticks, instead of just sending a list of sticks and their prices, why not show your subscribers which stick is best for them? Tell your subscribers about some cool tricks they can do with the sticks. Offer bulk buy stick offers. Do you offer gift wrapping and free shipping for 2 or more sticks? Tell your subscribers some of the games you can play with the sticks. Include some photo’s of happy customers with their sticks.  Thinking outside the box like this opens up whole new ways you can provide value.

Be unique
I love Fab and Fancy’s emails because they have such a uniquely designed email that really captures my attention, and I enjoy looking at it. Every day. The other reason is that it is filled with 100% new and unique things every day, which is amazing in itself. I also love them because they offer me things no-one else does, things I see no-where else, which makes it even more special. So what is your point of difference? Think about what you are offering people that no-one else is.Portray your own brand, design, flavour, and make your uniqueness stand out.

Be relevant
There are many ways to be relevant – use preference centre’s so people can tell you specifically what they are interested in. Segment your database so you can customise your content based on anything you can collect the data for – location, gender, age bracket, favorite music genre, preferred store, last purchase date, anything. Basically the bottom line is send an email people want to get.

Use a ‘friendly’ from name
Did you know the majority of email users look at the sender from name and address before deciding whether or not to open the email. If they recognise the from name they’re more likely to open the campaign, however if they don’t, they’re likely to delete the email or mark it as spam. If your recipients recognise your from name and have an association with this, then they’re more likely to open the email. So make sure you choose one that matches your brand/company name, preferably the same one used on your website and across your social media accounts, so that when people see it they instantly recognise you in the inbox. Read more on this here

Use a superstar subject line
Apart from your from name, do you know what one other thing entices people to read your email? Your subject line.  And with the majority of subscribers now reading emails on their smartphone, this means you just have up to 50 characters to make your point. Do your subject lines read ‘March Update’ or do they read something like ‘The top 5 things about X you didn’t know but should’.  Read our post about creating effective subject lines.

Be timely and expected
I like Mashable because among other things, their email always arrives in my inbox at exactly at the same time every day, because guess what – that’s when I asked them to send it. One absolutely fundamental rule is to stipulate exactly when and how often you will send email – when someone first subscribes. And make sure you send it exactly when you said you would. This sets the expectation of the subscriber from the outset, and if you send it when you said you would that leads to happy subscribers. If the recipient likes the email, and you, they will open and engage, and even if you email them daily, they will still love you. However if you email more than you said you would or if they don’t like the email, they will often just use the mark as spam or delete buttons, and if that is the case, do not underestimate how this will affect your deliverability. Read more about sentiment.

Be brief
“Most studies show that people spend less than 10 seconds reading an email” says Simms Jenkins, chief executive officer of the Atlanta-based email marketing agency BrightWave Marketing. People are busy, so help them out and replace those long blocks of text with bullet points, lists, summaries, or even better, images or graphs that demonstrate the point. Think about how magazines sell – their cover’s are full of ‘top 10′ this, and ‘best tips’ that, and all their content is brief and concise.

Provide content people want to read
I get an email from VisualNews, every day. Yet I love it because every day they send me links to things that are new, quirky and unique that I don’t see anywhere else and they are always so interesting to read. It’s one of the only emails that make my ‘to read’ shortlist every day because I always know it’s going to be good. Simms Jenkins said “Compelling content that provides value to your subscribers is the best way to ensure they stay engaged with your e-mail program”. 

Provide something they don’t get anywhere else
What do I get from signing up to your emails that web visitors and store visitors don’t get? HomeMint and ShoeMint make a habit of sending me 20% to 50% and off vouchers at least once a week, just because I subscribed. These emails are among the only ones that stay in my inbox along with those from my friends, while I browse their website and dream about how I am going to redeem that special offer.

Send emails with built in relevancy
Trigger emails are intrinsically relevant as they go out as a direct result of a specific action, like signing up to something or a cart abandonment email. This build in relevancy is why many people see these types of email as a cornerstone of email marketing, and will be more and more relevant and important as time goes on. If you are not already doing some form of triggered emails, we strongly suggest you do – and we have a whole raft of posts on the subject. They can also be surprisingly easy to implement.

Tell a story
In this age where it’s all about storytelling, realise that people don’t want a corporate robot anymore – they appreciate receiving emails that have been written by a human and that actually read like it. So drop the corporate speak and write your communications in a more personable way, in keeping with your brand obviously, and inject some personality into your copy. Add some humour, and make it into a story.  We all know people like stories and this is the best way to get your point across, teach people things, and have them remember things. So share a story or anecdote – for example what’s been happening behind the scenes at your company, or something funny that happened to you, or a quote perhaps. Some of the best emails I have read are written as a story to demonstrate a point. And guess what I virtually always read the entire email, and I retain that story and that message long after that email has left my inbox.

So are you one of the people who’s email makes my daily shortlist of emails to be read, or are you on the list of noise that get’s deleted?

If you have any other fantastic suggestions of ways to stand out in the inbox, email us and let us know!

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.

“Our rugs will floor you”

This has got to be one of the best subject lines I have seen so far in 2012. Their play on words was so clever I opened and read the whole email even though I have no interest in rugs. If their email subject line had said ‘Rug Sale’ I would have deleted it immediately. Instead, they caught my attention instantly.


The next thing that impressed me about this email was their good use of the pre header text. As you can see in the screenshot, their pre header text matched their subject line, so even though they did repeat the information I knew exactly what the email was about. It’s descriptive yet simple. They also give the option to view text, or text with images which is handy. And they provide a link so people can add them to ‘safe senders’ list. This is a link that we strongly recommend people use if they don’t already.

The body of the email had fantastic graphics that were bright and visually appealing, (Part of which you can see in these screenshots) and like I said I’m not excited by rugs but this email made me want to buy one.

So they have captured my attention, got me excited by their rugs, now they have provided me with a large, colorful, simple, unmissable, call to action. Which I promptly clicked on. (You may recall the importance of a good call to action from our post last week – read it here) See this great call to action in the screenshot below.










Overall this email has all the elements of a well-designed, well thought out, and well tested email. It has a great subject line, makes good use of the pre header text, has attention grabbing content, has a great call to action, and also includes handy links to unsubscribe and connect with them on social media sites at the bottom.

Well done.