Why Subject Lines Are Crucial For Successful Email Marketing Campaigns

If you’ll excuse the pun (well, even if you don’t), email marketing delivers. It’s fast, scalable, targetable, creatively freeing and automation-friendly. It’s also capable of a level of ROI that overthrows other forms of digital marketing. But that delivery depends on the marketer using it. If they don’t know how to play to its strengths, they can pluck defeat from the jaws of victory.

That scalability doesn’t just apply to volume, however, it also applies to impact. A PPC campaign governed by CPC is hard to do badly because if no one clicks, you don’t pay anything. Email affords no such protections. You can send thousands of terrible emails that achieve nothing and see all that effort and investment go to waste.

Now, suppose an email campaign isn’t hitting the mark. What should you look at first? The content? The CTAs? The address list? While all elements are worthy of being considered, not all are worthy of the top spot. Your priority should be the subject line. If you want to nail your email marketing, you need to nail your subject lines. Here’s why:

Inboxes are Flooded With Spam

Open your inbox. How many emails on the first page alone would you consider spammy? Somewhere around the 60% mark? It’ll depend on how closely you curate your emails, of course. Maybe you’re the sort of person who cuts out all spam whenever it appears. But most people let spam wash over them.

The problem with this approach is that people have come to expect useless emails. Instead of investigating new email alerts, they’ll assume that they can wait, or even be ignored entirely. They’ll get into the habit of visiting their inboxes to mass-delete unread emails, expecting anything important to be followed up.

So what separates the spam from the useful emails? Well… nothing, essentially. If something makes it through the spam filter, it’s treated just as well as any other email. All the recipient has to go on is the subject line and the sender, and they might not even look at the sender. All it takes is one glimpse over the subject line and an email’s fate is decided.

They’re Perfect for Personalization

Personalization is a key part of providing excellent customer experiences in today’s digital landscape. This is particularly true in the eCommerce world where options are plentiful and loyalty is hard to earn. A well-done, personalized subject line catches the eye, makes someone feel catered to, and draws them in. Plus, it’s easy to implement.

eCommerce sites require user accounts, whether created manually for the site or drawn automatically from social logins. This means that eCommerce email marketers start out with personalization details. From the start, you can include someone’s name in their subject line without worrying that you might mess it up.

This personalization should run through the core of your email marketing campaign. It shouldn’t just determine which product recommendations appear in promotional emails, but also which emails recipients receive. It’s clear that the subject line, being the first line of attack, is vital for laying the groundwork.

Everything Else Depends On Them

An email is a blank canvas, ready to be filled with whatever content you consider useful. Feel like including embedded videos? Go for it. Want to create an ornate frame and fill it with fancy animated text? It’s entirely within your power. This is a huge advantage over something like a social media ad, which is burdened with various limitations.

What’s more, you can do interesting things with complex analytics within an email. You can treat the entire email as a marketing funnel. Each step can follow on from the last and each page exit can provide insight into where your sales pitch needs work. You can also throw in social media sharing buttons to pick up some mentions. They may also help turn your email recipients into social media followers.

But none of that will happen if your recipients don’t open your emails. Your content will go unseen. CTAs will call, but no one will hear. Social media links will reach no one and deliver nothing. Everything depends on the performance of the subject line.

They Offer Insight Into Your Brand Style

Say your subject lines, at the very least, prove sufficient enough to get your emails opened. That’s most of the job done. But, you’re wrong to think that a subject line can’t or shouldn’t do more. In particular, your subject lines should tie in with your brand style. They should convey the tone of voice you aim to cultivate through your written communication.

Two versions of a subject line may both get an email opened, but one might seem more interesting, making recipients likelier to convert. What fits well with your brand? Emojis? Sentence fragments? Questions? Listicle-style teasers? Stick to your guns.

Consider that recipients might also follow you on social media and/or follow the activity of your brand in general. Your subject lines should fit with your overall brand image to ensure cohesion. Remember, a consistent brand is a strong brand.

For these reasons and more, your subject lines have to be finely-optimized if your email marketing campaign is to succeed. Think carefully about how they come across, read up on best practices, and run some A/B tests if necessary. Given the ROI of good email marketing, it’s worth your time and effort.