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For Successful Email Campaigns, Test Your Subject Lines

September 30th, 2008 · No Comments

Enterprising photographers put a tremendous amount of effort into their email campaigns. Managing lists, choosing images, writing copy and creating landing pages are just some of the areas that need careful attentions. But one of the most critical aspects of email campaigns is also one of the most overlooked: subject lines. The subject line is an important factor in determining if your email will get through a spam filter and if the recipient will open the email if it does make it through. In other words, no matter how much time, attention and resources you devote to your email campaigns, much of that is wasted effort unless your subject line is both compelling and unlikely to be considered spam.

There are entire chapters written about how to craft a great subject line. A few quick tips include:

- Be brief. Less is more.

- Avoid spammy formatting such a exclamation points, quotations marks and words in all caps or words like “free” “sex” “immediately” “offer” “cash” that are typically found in spam.

- Make it inviting, creative, unexpected.

- Keep it fresh. Don’t reuse the same the subject line from previous email campaigns.

How do you know if you have an effective subject line before your campaign goes out? The answer is testing. You can use an online subject line tester such as this one. A more effective method is to send out a small number of emails, separated into groups, with a different subject line for each group. Then evaluate which one did the best job of avoiding the spam filters and which of those resulted in more people opening and viewing the email.

Each test group should contain 50-100 email addresses. This will ensure that your subject lines will be tested against a variety of spam filters as a well various email services and applications. Send your test emails out at least 5 days before you plan on sending the campaign to your full list. Most responses to email campaigns take place within 72 hours. That leaves a day or two for you to fully evaluate the results.

Any email campaign service such as MyEmma, Constant Contact or Vertical Repsonse will allow you to see which emails were bounced by a spam filter and which emails were ultimately opened by the recipient. (Keep in mind that there are other reasons why a spam filter might block your emails, such as the email having too large a file size.) Look at the results closely. You might be surprised to see how dramatically the subject line can affect whether or not your emails are ever seen by your target audience.

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