Email Marketing 101: What You Should Know About Subject Lines, From Lines, and More

by Daniel McCarthy
Email Marketing 101: What You Should Know About Subject Lines, From Lines, and More

Photo: Shutterstock.com


Though there are always new apps coming into the market, the most important app on phones today, for both consumers and entrepreneurs, is the email app.

“It’s how we communicate — 95 percent of Internet users between 18 and 64 send and read email,” Ron Cates, Constant Contact founder, told attendees of this year’s Travel MarketPlace East in Toronto this week.

According to Cates, email has the highest return on investment of any form of marketing — for every $1 spent on email, you’re getting about $38 back.

“What if there’s a bank in Antarctica, with a special promotion that, for every dollar you hand in, they hand you $38? Where would you be right now?” he said. “If the average email is getting that, imagine if you’re doing that well.”

Here are some tips to do just that:

The 'From' line
According to Cates, 65 percent of consumers decide to open their email or not based on the “From” line, the line that tells a consumer who is sending the email.

Because most people are using different email providers, some email software still doesn’t show the name that Outlook, for example, allows users to add. Put both in at all times to guarantee that the name shows first, Cates said.

“Put both pieces in to clearly indicate where it’s from. You need your own domain, and a professional email address,” he said.

While a lot of businesses have a separate email address for their marketing e-blasts, that’s not the most effective way to do it, though it may be convenient.

“It gets opened more if it comes from a person, as opposed to something generic,” he said.

Also, because some systems, like Gmail, are starting to block bulk email that comes from a roll email address, having e-blasts coming from a real person makes it more likely that it will arrive in mailboxes.

The subject line
The subject line is oftentimes the only thing people read, and it’s the primary reason people decide whether or not they want to open an email and engage with the marketing.

An ideal subject line length, Cates said, is 40 characters or less. That prevents a message like “Winter fashions you can’t afford to miss!” from becoming “Winter fashions you can’t afford…”

“Two–thirds of us are buying from an email we didn’t open and we’re buying within 14 days,” Cates said.

Always think concise, Cates said. The quicker you can get your message across, with a call to action and some branding if you can fit it, in the subject line, the better.

“People today communicate in an incredibly concise way. Email got too long, so now we’re texting. Texting got too long, so we used abbreviations. Now, we’re using emoticons,” he said.

The 'Do Not Opens'
While it may seem attractive to take out email addresses that are consistently deleting your marketing messages in order to improve your open rate, that’s not the smart thing to do.

Because a travel agent’s buying cycle is a lot longer than, say, a grocery store’s buying cycle, taking email addresses off your marketing list is only creating missed opportunities.

“People don’t buy travel every week,” Cates said. “I want to make sure that when they buy, they buy from me. I don’t care how long they’re on my list. The biggest power of email is that it allows you to stay top-of-mind, so they don’t forget about you.”

Social share buttons
Not taking advantage of social share buttons that email marketing companies, like Mail Chimp and Constant Contact, offer to its users is just another missed opportunity.

According to Cates, those social sharing buttons — the small square buttons on the top of a lot of email marketing with logos from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more—make three good things happen.

The first is that clicks go up by 158 percent. The second is that the reach of the email goes up about around 60 percent. And the third is that it gives you the ability to track who is opening what and where you message is going.

“Any business of any size spends a lot of money and resources to figure out which social networks are most effective,” Cates said.

Always look professional
The bar has been raised by consumers, and they expect any messages in their inbox to look good.

“If it doesn’t look professional, they second-guess the business. All of your marketing, across all platforms, needs to look professional,” he said, noting that professional-looking messages get eight times the open rate.

Part of looking professional is targeting who you are talking to. If they know it’s not targeted, Cates said, they think you don’t care.

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