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Psst: Insider know how - exclusive offer... find out how to create the best headlines

Blog post   •   Aug 16, 2013 12:09 BST

A guest blog post by Danish PR pro Kirsten Dinesen, CEO of PR firm FrontPage PR & Communications.

The subject line on an email newsletter is crucial if you want your audience to read it.

Writing a catchy headline is something of an art. It’s a struggle which many journalists go through every day - yet that’s nothing compared to what newsletter-editors are up against. This is the reasoning behind Worldata website subjectline.com, which essentially puts your headlines to the test. The mechanics are based on data collected from over 1 billion newsletters and are cross-examined on more than 400 different parameters.

So what tips do they suggest to improve your subject lines?

I’ll let you in on a secret...

Do you have something exclusive to share with your reader? If you do, you should use phrases such as “Hush" "top secret" or "shhh!” in your subject line as you’re almost guaranteed to receive a higher open rate.

If you write a headline which creates a sense of urgency you can improve your opening rate by 22% with phrases such as “today only" and "expires tomorrow.”

Keep it brief

Subjectline.com was developed for the English language which is naturally suited to short, catchy phrases. It has an inherent advantage over languages as a subject line is in fact more effective if it’s kept shorter than 35 characters and if you avoid words longer than 8 characters. This is due to the 87% of recipients who read newsletters on their smartphones.

Fitting all desired elements into a short headline takes time and practice but it is an investment which will definitely pay off in terms of increased sales or ROI.

Some days are better than others

It has always been widely believed that Tuesday morning is the best day to send out newsletters. But not anymore. The optimal day actually depends on which type of device your audience is inclined to use.

  • Computer users tend to read their email between Wednesday and Friday.
  • Webmail service users such as Gmail, Hotmail etc. mostly read their emails from Friday through to Sunday. Perhaps this is because private email domains are primarily read outside of working hours.
  • Smartphone users mostly read their emails from Thursday through to Saturday.

So what’s the best course of action? 

35 % of all click throughs from newsletter to landing page take place within 72 hours of the email being sent. However, if you focus on a slightly longer period to the recipients who respond to deals up to 5 days after the initial send out, you’ll find that they are in fact much more valuable as they tend to be loyal customers. 

That makes Monday the best day to send out newsletters giving your readers a full five days to react.

Content is king

Timing your newsletter and getting the subject line is important but remember the recipient has to find the content you're sending out relevant, that’s a given. Yet, there are certain subjects more effective than others. Consumers are more likely to open and respond to emails containing well written content introduced by the following:

  • Free shipping
  • Exclusive deals/bargains
  • Discount on next buy
  • Gift on next buy

Business-to-business customers respond well to:

  • Download whitepaper
  • Landing page
  • Discount/trial subscription
  • Web events (webinar, Hangouts etc.)

Even although recipients may react to such headlines, remember that content is worthless unless it is of good quality. Potential customers will vanish into thin air if the content of a whitepaper or web event is poor. Customers show their trust by signing up for newsletters or by downloading materials so by delivering poorly produced or irrelevant content you are letting them down. Taking a closer look at the quality of content in your newsletter as this may very well be a game changer.  However, remembering these tips on subject headlines will increase the chances of customers looking at your content in the first place.

Try out the following headlines at subjectline.com and see if you can improve them.

Note: Being the talented businessmen that they are, they make you fill in your contact information on your second try.

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Image courtesy of Stuart Miles via FreeDigitalPhotos.net