One way to ensure email subject lines always generates engagement and catches the attention of subscribers is to use a data-driven creative campaign strategy.   

Brands are constantly looking for ways to stand out in the inbox. The ability to do that has become more and more complicated as email volume has continued to increase. Typically, it’s a brand’s name and their subject line that will get the email the recognition. Thus, it needs to either drive engagement or allow the consumer to move on.

But a brand’s name has a number of factors associated with it, which impacts a consumer’s interpretation of its communication at a moment in time. Propensity for engagement via email extends into recent interactions between the brand and the customer it is trying to reach.

For instance, if a customer recently had a terrific customer service experience, they may be more inclined to open your email regardless of the subject line. Yet, if their experience was negative, they may be less inclined to open your email, even if the subject line is extremely appealing.

Still, no matter what happened during a previous brand interaction, your subject line is your first chance to make the next best impression on the customer you’re trying to reach and drive engagement.

dead email-flickr-4758012938_2fb0f90ed0

The “shock and awe” approach… in many a moon

To stand out in a crowded inbox, some brands are trying their hand at taking a “shock and awe” approach in their subject line. This can be successful at driving email open activity, but many times can fall short on driving the behavior your brand is trying to attract.

A brand called MeUndies touts “the world’s most comfortable underwear,” which as a subscription model is appealing to every man and woman that wears underwear . When you sign up for (Read more...) they let the subscriber know that there will be pictures, underwear, and humor. Who doesn’t love good underwear humor, right?

The target audience for MeUndies appears to be the 20-something market, but the possible reach of the brand and concept expands well in to the 40-somethings and beyond.

Based on data available from eDatasource, it appeared that MeUndies tested the subject line of a recent email communication. The focus of the message was to highlight and drive engagement with the #MeUndiesMoment hashtag on Twitter. Likewise, its email content highlighted various tweets that customers shared.

The four subject lines tested were:

  1. “It’s time to grab your #MeUndiesMoment”
  2. “Don’t take my word for it…”
  3. “It’s all about that #MeUndiesMoment”
  4. “The best thing to happen to my crotch in many a moon”

Clearly, the last subject line was the most shocking, and the one that happened to land in my inbox. But I wondered how the shock factor performed, so I dug in a little.

According to eDatasource, of the four subject lines tested, it appears that number two was the best performer from an inbox placement and read rate perspective. However, it also had the highest delete rate of the four messages as well.

So did it drive the behavior that MeUndies was after? It’s hard to say without living and breathing their program. Further analysis underscored the importance of taking a more strategic, data-driven approach – beyond shock and awe – to authoring subject lines. More specifically, it emphasized the importance of having a data-driven creative strategy.

The importance creative strategy

But wait – weren’t we just talking about subject lines? How did we jump to creative strategy?

Your subject line should absolutely be part of your creative strategy and process. It’s one of the more critical components of your email communication. Copy writing should always take your data in to consideration.

meundies email copy

Chances are that one blanket subject line isn’t going to resonate with your entire subscriber base, especially where the possibility of wide audience definition is possible. And while testing four subject lines gives you metrics, analyzing the subject line still may not attract the engagement you were after – even if recipients were in enough awe to engage with the email.

In conclusion

Typical subject line testing can’t get you where you really need to be. Your goal should be to use data not to just find the right subject line for the message, but to find the right subject line for your audience that also aligns best with the rest of your email’s content.

As you think about how you can create a more compelling subject line strategy, think about the data you have and consider implementing a data-driven approach to your copy writing process. After all, data is the best thing that will happen to your subject line in many a moon.

Homepage and article images via MeUndies and Flickr.

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