Posts Tagged ‘subject line’

Tiger Woods. How many column inches have been devoted to the famed golfer and his alleged infidelities?  It’s been several weeks since the news first broke, and yet we’re still reading about his decline in popularity.  Tiger has spent his entire professional career building up an image of himself being a straight, honest family man with integrity and values, but thanks to several alleged errors of judgment with – apparently – a multitude of young women, this image has been smashed to smithereens and his poor family has been blown apart.  Whilst these reported affair(s) have probably not affected his pocket (yet), his brand influence and standing with the general public has taken a massive nose dive and the general public’s memory is long.  Basically he’s going to have to do a hell of a lot to make himself popular again.

Don’t make Tiger’s alleged mistake.  This very public slide from grace by Mr Woods highlighted to me the importance of getting things absolutely right from the outset.  You invest valuable time and money marketing and promoting your brand / product so it’s absolutely imperative that you set customer expectations from the start and ensure that you always deliver what you promise you’re going to, sticking as closely to your brand values as possible and only send targeted, relevant content.  All of the time. 

Avoid the Spam Button

As email marketing has grown in prominence, consumers are receiving more and more emails and subsequently their patience is being tested and they are getting fed up with receiving irrelevant content.  The way they behave when receiving unwanted emails can vary dramatically from simply deleting your message outright, unsubscribing from your newsletter, or, at worst, clicking on the ‘report as spam’ button. 

Data Capture

Consumers expect content to be tailored to them but in order to this, they need to be willing to give you some information about themselves and in turn, you need to capture this information and use it intelligently, remembering that relevant messages can lead to just as many sales as offers or discounts.  Having a simple data capture form on your website on subscription can help you gather important quantifiable customer characteristics including age, income, location, number of children etc.  Alternatively think about sending a ‘welcome’ email after the initial basic subscription taking them to an incentive-based preference centre where they can indicate further information and interests which you can then use for more sophisticated segmentation.         


An understanding of different customer segments allows you to tailor your offer to individuals making your email stand out and capture the attention of your customers. According to Forrester  those who test, integrate web analytics and humanise content are four to six times more effective than those who blast out the same content to their entire database.  MarketingSherpa’s benchmark guide shows that segmented campaigns produce at least 30% more opens and 50% higher CTR than undifferentiated campaigns. (Source: MarketingSherpa Email Marketing Benchmark Guide, 2009).


Think about intelligent personalisation.  This isn’t simply a case of saying ‘Dear Joe’. Try personalising your subject line, content blocks within the text or even images. Test the extent of how the performance of your newsletter can be increased with an individual customer approach.


To make your email campaign as relevant as possible, don’t be afraid to look at all potential areas including subject lines, from address, content, images, landing pages and design  and repeat the age-old mantra TEST, TEST, TEST!

In short, get to know your customer.  If you listen to them and only deliver targeted, relevant content, you won’t go far wrong and will hopefully avoid being found by the paparazzi quivering underneath a windscreen shattered by a golf club brandished by a woman scorned. Sound advice I feel!


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According to suggested best practice on email creative there are set standards which many in the industry claim will determine the success of an email campaign. For the majority of emails this holds true. However sometimes it can be more effective to break away from the norm and try a more creative tact. The beauty of email is that you can always try out new ideas with split testing to see what really works for your audience before jumping in at the deep end.

Here are a couple of examples from my inbox, which help to demonstrate my point.

If you search in Google for ‘email subject lines best practices’ it comes back with a possible 19,100,000 results, which illustrates just how much information is out there on this topic! ‘Limit your subject line to 50 – 70 characters’, ‘keep it short and sweet’ and include your ‘company name’ in the subject line. These are all probably suggestions you’ve come across before. But with this ‘Martin’s Money Tips’ email all this advice goes totally out the window! They’ve gone for the longest subject line in history, but it works for me because it tells me everything I need to know. The subject line is loaded with the most important information on all the offers and deals you need to be aware of and suits the style of the email itself. It’s not trying to be clever but still manages to prompt me to take action and open the email. However, I’d only suggest using longer subject lines when there is a compelling reason to do so but in this example there obviously is!



In the competitive fashion industry image is everything and this literally holds true for this Karen Millen email, which emphasises images over copy in a big way. To a certain degree, this goes against the traditional best practice advice that using lots of images should not be done because of image blocking issues. However, these days there are numerous steps you can take to avoid image blocking, such as always including an ‘add to address book’ link, preferably in the pre-header as this will ensure all images are directly shown to subscribers and incorporating a ‘view a web version’ of the email as well.

Karen Millen

Another email marketing best practice principle is that you should keep the length of your email relatively short. However, keeping it ‘above the fold’ isn’t something ASOS seem to be interested in as this email is looong (click on the image to see the full length version)! But do they need to? This email includes relevant calls to action and imagery that really would appeal to the fashion conscious.


So what works best for your campaigns? Shorter or longer emails? Images vs. text based? Testing is the only way to uncover the true revenue potential of your email campaigns. Best practice is there as a guide but there are no universal rules. I’d recommend you test and alter your campaigns based on responses rather than what worked for someone else. Be proactive and don’t stop testing!

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