It’s the marketer’s curse: You spend so much time crafting the perfect video or wading through white paper drafts that when it finally comes time to distribute, the last thing you have energy for is coming up with just the right subject line.
But what’s the point of great content if no one ever sees it?
To keep your next emails from being ignored, PMMI Media Group shares the following takeaways from some of the past year’s high-performing subject lines.
One of the most common mistakes marketers make is giving everything away in the subject line. By leaving the reader wanting a little more information, you’ll increase the likelihood of opening. (Just be sure that what’s inside delivers—duping the reader with “click bait” won’t leave a positive impression of your brand.)
What?! If that just gave you a jolt, you’ve just experienced the second big takeaway: Fear is always an attention-grabber.
Use of fear in your subject lines—whether it’s the end user’s fear of making the wrong decision or fear of missing out on features—can help your message stand out and aid recall. Focusing around worst-case scenarios or desire not to “blow it” can be very powerful—often, more powerful than even discussing potential benefits. There’s even a term for this phenomenon: In psychology, “loss aversion” refers to how people prefer to avoid losing something rather than gaining something of equal value. (For example, would you rather face the chance of losing five dollars or gaining five dollars? Studies show the first proposition invoking loss will be more likely to grab folks’ attention.)
A couple of things to note with this approach: Though powerful, fear-based marketing can be tricky. Don’t rely solely on this technique—it can get too gimmicky when overused or unintentionally create a negative association with your brand. Also, making a potential customer or user feel bad about themselves should never be the goal.
Top-performers tend to create messaging around “fixes” to users’ challenges, as opposed to focusing on what the supplier is selling. Readers want practical information to address their needs, whether that’s strategies to increase output, cut costs, support safety or protect the environment. The more educational—as opposed to promotional— your content appears, the more likely end users will be to want to engage. When you lead with solving their pain point, and only then describe your product’s role in addressing this pain, you’ll be most successful.
Everyone loves to know how they compare with peers. (You’re reading this article, right?) Marketers often garner high engagement by showcasing success strategies either with case studies or self-assessments and then highlighting this content angle in their subject lines.
(Pro tip: If you have a customer willing to be identified in a case study, be sure to lead with that user company’s name. The customer’s cachet will only add to the level of interest among peers!)
Keeping up with trends is part of every end user’s job. As such, advances in technology or processes are inherently interesting. Marketers that focus their subject lines around changing industry dynamics can best stand out from the crowd.