If you’re reading this post, there’s a good chance your organization has set up an email newsletter.  And that’s great.  There are many benefits of sending email newsletters.

But simply sending an email doesn’t really matter.  Your newsletter does no good sitting unopened in the inboxes of the world, as newsletters often do.  There are a variety of reasons that could lead to an email going unopened, but subject lines are a key player in the decision whether or not to take a look at what an email has to offer.

Selling in Subjects Doesn’t Work

MailChimp, a company dedicated to email marketing and newsletters, did a massive analysis on over 40 million emails sent from their customers to see what types of subjects lead to opens.

They found that those “subject lines [that] read like headlines from advertisements you’d see in the Sunday paper” don’t get opened very often.  Sure, they may seem more creative at first glance.  But people get so much email every day that they often delete “anything that even hints of spam” as MailChimp puts it.

Unless someone signed up for your mailing list explicitly to receive sales pitches, it’s best to avoid them whenever possible.

So what should you do?  Stay with me, I’m getting to that.

Be Clear, Direct and Concise

Instead of trying to sell your users on the merits of opening an email, simply tell them what’s inside.  If they’re interested they’ll open it up.  Tricking users into opening an email only artificially inflates your open rates and frustrates your recipients.

Instead of relying on a deceptive sales pitch, try to be:

  • Clear – Use language that everyone will understand instead of industry jargon.
  • Direct – Tell users the contents of your email newsletter.
  • Concise – Keep your subject short (ideally under 50 characters).

Tell, Don’t Sell

The bottom line, as summarized eloquently by the folks at MailChimp, is:

“the best subject lines tell what’s inside, and the worst subject lines sell what’s inside.”

It is important to get more people to open your email newsletter.  But the goal isn’t simply to gather opens – it’s to build relationships with your recipients that can ultimately lead them to support your cause.

Are there any words or phrases that will immediately lead you to delete an email?  How often do you open email newsletters that you’ve signed up to receive?  I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Image courtesy of Jonny Hughes, Flickr