Writing a 'Must Open Now' email marketing 'Subject' headline

Email marketing is getting harder by the day and spammers can be blamed entirely for this. They pull out all stops when it comes to collecting email addresses - mostly dubious and even go to the extent of creating Internet robots to do the job for them.

The robots they use are small applications that roam the World Wide Web with the sole purpose of randomly gleaning email addresses from web pages and other documents that are online. The collected email addresses are then used to assemble hollow lists that have no other information besides the email address itself and owners of these are indiscriminately bombarded with unsolicited commercial messages.

Add to that, more junk mail that a few innocent 'sign up's at the wrong places generate and the assault on ones' mailbox is quite daunting. As a result, even the most prudent of us, receive on a minimum, at least 3-8 unsolicited emails each day.

Over a period of time a pattern evolves and our approach to this invasion of our mailboxes is to Scan, Identify and Delete (what I like to call the SID Mode) these irritants, before opening genuine email. This approach can undo your hard work as an email marketer if the recipient classifies your message as spam.

If you are a genuine email marketer - then you surely would have done your homework by buying/compiling a targeted opt-in list to ensure that you are at least talking to the right audience. But how do you differentiate yourself from the ubiquitous spammer? The answer lies in your email subject headline. Can you write a headline that conveys "Yes I'm selling you something... but this is something you really want"

Headlines that have Hot Offers. . . Free. . . Exclusive Sale. . . New Products . . . Act Now. . . Special Offer. . . You Won etc., scream spam and these emails will be deleted in the first few seconds.

The secret to a effective email subject headline is mostly in the choice of words.

A few tips:

  1. Flag the segment. e.g.: "Doctors! Do you prescribe this wonder drug?

  2. Go in closer - refine your 'flag' as much as possible. e.g.: Pediatricians! Must prescribe drug for under 3yr. olds...

  3. If your message is not too newsy then put your offer up front. But make it realistic and attainable. 'Win a trip to the Bahamas' stands a lesser chance of being opened than 'Win a months free airtime!' Because the bigger the prize the greater the odds against one winning it.

  4. Use the right catch words. Motor enthusiasts will definitely react better to a 150 BHP torque or a 175MPH...

  5. If and when you can, personalize. However do this only if you have a proper list. Don't ever do what lots of spammers attempt in the form of personalization - using email addresses that sound like names as part of their subject lines. It will surely backfire because 'Hello bob_smith@yahoo.com' signals spam to the recipient.

  6. Use news that will interest your segment. The sales pitch can be inside the email.

  7. Make headlines as short as possible with trigger words closer to the beginning.

  8. Use commonly used abbreviations to pack in more.

  9. Pique the readers interest with headlines beginning with 'Did you know', 'Discover...', 'How to…' etc.

  10. Write at least five options before you settle on one.

  11. Test it: Let the email pile up in your own mailbox for a couple of days and then send your marketing message to yourself. Does it stand apart? Will you open it?

  12. Get opinions. Send it to people you know and inside the mail ask them for feedback. Of course you will not be using your personal email address ;)

All the best! Long live email marketing!

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