Top 8 B2C Best Practices For Email Campaigns and Subject Lines

Subject lines are crucial to ensure your campaigns get read by your audience. Data shows that you have 2 seconds to grab your reader’s attention with the subject line of your email marketing campaign. It’s imperative that you optimise your subject lines to give your campaigns the best possible chance to succeed. Although you may be tempted to just go for an all CAPS subject lines with exclamation marks and popular phrases, you should think carefully and strategically about what your subject lines should say.

Good subject lines are straightforward, clear and describe the subject of your email. It’s simple advice and yet many people don’t take heed. A good subject line needs to tell your audience what the email contains, why your reader should open it and what benefit or reward they’ll get if they do.

If you spend some time delving through subject line statistics, you will find that the most effective subject lines aren’t necessarily the most complicated one’s. On the opposite side of the scale the subject lines with the lowest results are also generally the ones that look and sound like creative advertising, which recipients sometimes automatically think is spam and delete accordingly.

What constitutes a great email subject line?

Many factors play a role, but we’ve rustled up a few examples that have achieved some of the best open rates:

  1. “X Company” Sales & Marketing Monthly Newsletter

  2. “X Company” Webinar: Case Studies – Join Us Feb 15

  3. This Week’s Phone Call / Meeting (Personalized note from sales rep to prospects)

  4. “First Name” – 8 Customer Service Tips that Work

  5. Event Registration Today: (Name of event and date)

  6. Success Tip: # Ways to a better (X topic)

  7. Invitation – Breakfast with (Name of guest speaker and topic)

  8. You’re Going to Love This – Look What We have for You

The above examples are good because they follow best practices for subject lines. Combining a variety of subject line tactics to draw subscribers in.

To summarise, these subject lines do the following really well:

  • They tell you exactly what the message is about,
  • They tell you what company or person has sent it
  • They offer something valuable and relevant to the reader
  • They give the reader a ‘teaser’ and pique their curiosity
  • They avoid any spam-like red flag words
  • They are concise and to the point
  • They’re personalized
  • They aren't blatantly trying to sell something
  • They’re unique and stand out from the usual promo campaigns

To compare, we’ve compiled a list of less successful email subject lines to illustrate the difference.

  • Meeting Request: Introducing Our New Product
  • Free Evaluation of ABC Encrypted Portable Drive
  • Post-Trade Show Webinar: Expert Insights Into Key Trends and Observations from the Trade Show Floor
  • European Lakefront Elegance
  • Register to Win Your FREE iPod!!
  • Shop Early and Save!
  • 30% off Holiday Sale!
  • Last Chance! Purchase 5 and get one free on us!

Some of the key takeaways from the above list of things you should avoid:

  • There is no evidence of who sent these emails or what is actually being offered – basically giving the reader zero reasons to open the message in the first place
  • The third example is simply too long, boring and drawn out – yawn
  • Win! Save! Free! Sale!– are all spam trigger words and dime a dozen – think how many emails you get like this, and how many do you actually read? None, exactly
  • They aren't personalized or targeted in any way, making them highly irrelevant. If the campaign included more localised content, they would be more enticing to the end reader and probably produce better campaign results.
  • Exclamation marks should be reserved for very special occasions and certainly not for an email you are sending to someone you don’t know. It is the equivalent of shouting and no one likes being shouted at.
  • With the last example, even though there is a sense of urgency (which is actually a good thing), it’s offset with the exclamation mark, which makes it seem pressurized. You can create the same sense of urgency by simply re-wording it – ‘You only have 1 day left to take up our offer of buy 5 get one free – act now’.

Final thoughts:

Remember that the subject line of your email is often the first contact you have with a subscriber or prospective customer, so you need to do everything you can to make the best first impression possible. It’s hard to get second chances in email marketing, so don’t blow it at the outset with a subject line that screams “spam” and looks like every other promotional email in your inbox. By sticking to a few tried and tested best practices, and by researching subject lines that have proven to be successful, you’ll stand a much better chance of your email landing in the inbox.


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