Subject Lines and From Lines

Have you experienced a decline in your eNewsletter’s “open” rate? There are several reasons why this may occur, some of which you can do little about, but others that you can work to improve. If your “open” rates are slipping, don’t panic, but don’t sit idle - there is a lot you can do. Let’s take a look at a possible culprit for declines as well as two often overlooked variables that can help bring your “open” rate back up.

Recently, filters have been screening html emails and presenting recipients with the option to “view images”. You should always ask recipients to “safe list” your eNewsletter sender. Ideally, they only have to do this once to view your messages properly from that point forward. No need to feel helpless though, people who are not seeing your images will still be getting your message.

Especially if your “open” rates are not as high as you would like them to be, remember, that you have control over several elements that invariably effect those “open” rates. Before readers even see your crafted masterpiece, they must choose to open it. With this in mind, remember that you control the from field and the subject line which are in essence your true “first impression”. These elements act as gate keepers of your eNewsletter, so never underestimate their importance. By peaking your audience’s interest at the door, you’re far more likely to have readers invite you in.

Let’s take a moment to discuss these fields further. The first perception readers receive from you is the from column. This is your initial opportunity to obtain a recipient’s attention. Does your newsletter have a catchy name? Did you change it recently? Is it related to your organization’s name? Are you using the newsletter’s name as your “from line”? These are issues you should be considering each time you send an eNewsletter, and a consistent and thought out approach pays off ovee time . People may have signed up for you newsletter and may be awaiting it anxiously. When they receive it, are they overlooking it in their inbox?

If you are a dentist sending an eNewsletter from “Freddy’s Favourite Puppy”, your recipients may be passing over your message. Make sure the from line is recognizable to those who have opted to receive your eNewsletter. Perhaps from “Dr. DrilsnGums” would be more effective. Think about the speed with which you scan you inbox looking for familiar and important email worth opening, would you be more inclined to accept an email from “Freddy’s Favourite Puppy” or a familiar name like “Dr. DrilsnGums”?

The subject line is another equally important consideration that needs to be addressed. The subject should reflect the content of your eNewsletter. Some organizations have named their eNewsletter and opted to use its name as the subject. This is a common approach and has advantages, such as familiarity and consistency. Yet, your organization makes the effort to create new content for each campaign in order to keep recipients informed, interested, and familiar with your branding. If you find your “open” rates slipping, perhaps you should try having the subject line directly reflect the current content of your eNewsletter. If a recipient wasn’t blown away by the last issue of “The Wire”, then an issue from “The Wire” subject “Top 10 industry related tips”(the topic of your last mailer was likely more interesting than your eNewsletter’s name), may re-spark the interest that prompted them to opt in initially.

There are obviously other factors that effect “open” rates, such as campaign scheduling:

  • Time of year; is it a holiday season?
  • Weekday: Mondays are busy, why compete with clutter?
  • Don’t get buried under piles of “urgent” mail, time your campaigns towards lunch or end-of-day.

    UpOnline suggests sending test campaigns to yourself, altering the from and subject fields to see how readers are introduced to your mailer. You will find the approach that works best for your organization, it just takes some testing.

Ensure that the email address from which your from line originates is functional and monitored, and that your subject line is in no way misleading, but remember there is still tons of room to be creative.

Next: we will tackle content,

Later: targeting your email list.


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