5 Tips for Writing Killer Email Subject Lines

We recently discussed best practices for developing an email-timing strategy. Of course, it doesn’t matter what time you send your e-blast if no one opens it! Today we discuss the top factor between you and your readers’ eyes–the email subject line. Here are 5 tips for writing killer email subject lines:

1. It’s Personal
Despite popular belief, personalizing you email’s greeting does not improve your open rate. MailChimp instead reports that personalizing the “from” field of your email and adding localization–including a city or neighborhood in the subject line–will increase email open rates.

2. Spamalot
It’s general knowledge that using the word “free” in your subject line will send you straight to the spam folder. But according to MailChimp, there are three other must-avoid words for your subject line: “reminder,” “percent off,” and “help.”

3. Short is Sweet
Many in the web marketing industry acknowledge that an email subject line must be under 50 characters. And many e-newsletters have had excellent success with a simple one-word subject line! During his last presidential campaign, Barack Obama had striking success with with this subject line: Hey.

4. Keep it Fresh
MailChimp also warns against repeating subject lines: a stale subject line is a great way to decrease your open rate fast. If you are running an ongoing campaign, be sure to change up your subject lines for each mailing.

5. On Target
We can’t emphasize the importance of a well thought out, non-spammy subject line enough. But it’s also really important to send your email to a relevant list of people! Are you segmenting prior to your mailing? Be sure to consider who will be reading your email before you write and send it.

Litmus.com offers an excellent subject line infographic:

subject line infographic


We’d love to hear about your success with email marketing! Join the conversation in the comments section below.

When is the Best Time to Send Email?

When it comes to email marketing, the million dollar question is: when do I send it? Any e-newsletters and promotions we send are competing for readers’ attention before they even reach inboxes: demanding workdays, busy personal lives, and floods of business-related emails–not to mention the other promotions competing to be seen!

Determining the best time to send email promotions depends on your audience and can vary greatly by industry. Start by looking back at previous email campaigns to see what worked best for your company in the past.

Email timing has also been studied and researched by numerous marketers and below are some highlights of recent findings that will help you develop guidelines for email testing strategies:

-Don’t mail on Mondays.
You aren’t the only one who is really busy at the beginning of the week! Your email is likely to be lost among everything that came in over the weekend. Many consider Tuesday to be the best day to send email; Wednesday and Thursday are favorable as well. By Friday, people are more focused on weekend plans and completing to-do lists than inboxes, so avoid this day as well.

-Don’t send email promotions while your target audience is sleeping.
E-blasts sent overnight tend to go unseen. If it arrives when they are asleep, your audience is less likely to see it when they’re awake. This is similar to the issue with Monday: a lot of emails come in overnight–more than you may expect. Therefore, your competition to be seen is that much greater.

There is some debate over whether it is better to send email in the morning or afternoon. This can vary by industry, and it also varies by who you ask. Marketers test and research email open rates frequently and a case can be made for mailing on any day of the week. Wordstream recommends sending campaigns between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. or between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m.

And Dan Zarrella and Pure360 offer an excellent infographic chronicling their research on email timing:

email timing

Don’t be shy about doing you own testing. What works great for one mailing list may not be the best choice for your company. To eliminate the guess-work completely, use an email service, like MailChimp, that offers Send Time Optimization. This feature uses data from the millions of emails sent using their service to determine the best time to deliver your email.

What experiences have you had with email timing? We welcome you to join the conversation in the comments section below.

How to Add Social Icons to Your Gmail Signature

Add Social Icons to Your Gmail Signature in 21 Easy Steps

Since we’re all tweeting, sharing, liking, linking, connecting and blogging these days, I’ve had a few requests from people asking how to show social icons in their email signature.

It’s easy enough to do it manually every time you send an email, but if you want to automate the process and really have the icons in your signature line, the trick is in being able to host the icons on a server somewhere and not linking or inserting the icons from your local computer.

If you would like to use any of the following icons, I got them from http://vandelaydesign.com/blog/social-media/icons/ who offers them for free. The social icons you see below were downloaded from http://psd.tutsplus.com/freebies/icons/81-pixel-perfect-social-media-icons/ and then uploaded them to my server, so that we can link to them individually for use in an email signature.

Step by Step

  1. First make sure you know the URLs (web addresses) to each of your social media profiles.

    For example, mine are:
    Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/susby

    Linkedin: http://www.linkedin.com/in/susanbarnes

    Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/SusbyDigital

    Google Plus: http://gplus.to/susby

    See https://www.facebook.com/username if you don’t have a Facebook Vanity URL (custom username) yet.
    See http://gplus.to to get a shortened URL for your GooglePlus page

  1. Now go back go Gmail.
  2. Click Compose mail in Gmail.
  3. Make sure the rich-text editor is enabled: if you see “Rich formatting »” right above the message’s text composition area, click it. This will change from plain text to rich-text editor.
  4. Now Click Discard, because you don’t need to compose a new message yet.
  5. Click the Settings gear in your Gmail inbox’s toolbar. Look for the gear symbol in the top right area of your gmail screen.Gmail settings gear button
  6. Now select Settings from the menu that appears.
  7. Go to the General tab.
    General Settings tab in Gmail
  8. Scroll down until you see the Signature option.Gmail Signature Creation
  9. Make sure the signature entry area (or the desired account) is selected under Signature:
  10. Enter the text for your signature.
  11. Position the text cursor where you want the image to appear in your signature.
  12. Click Insert Image in the signature’s formatting toolbar.
    For image icons you may copy from the following:
    http://www.susby.com/s/youtube.pngPlease note that you MUST use the complete URL, with http://www.susby.com/s/ plus the icon filename in the URL or the image will not show. This is just how email works. All URL must be absolute URLs, and exist somewhere out on the web, or your images will not show to other people, even if they are showing for you when you link to them from your own computer.So, copy one of the above links in full.
    Then click Insert Image in the signature’s formatting toolbar.Paste the URL(link) into the Image URL field.
    Insert your social icon image
  1. Click OK.
  2. Now highlight the icon you want to add your social network profile link to. (The Google Plus icon below is highlighted.)Highlight social icon for inserting a hyperlink
  3. Insert the text of the link for the icon you highlighted. In my case the link is to my Google Plus Vanity URL which is http://gplus.to/susbyInsert hyperlink for social icon
  4. Click OK.
  5. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click the “Save Changes” button.
  6. Compose a test message to yourself or a good friend (or me) and test all the icon links to make sure they are going to the right place.
  7. Make any corrections and then you’re good to go and people may click on your social network icons to view any of your social networking profiles.
  8. Happy socializing on the social networks!

Have you noticed any increases in visibility since adding social icons to your email? Do you have any other tips for making your social accounts more visible to the people that you are communication with regularly? Please share your thoughts in the comments below.