Email is dead. Long live email.

How many times have we heard that email marketing is becoming extinct, that it is soon to be as the Dodo, fondly remembered but definitely dead?

As Mark Twain once said and email can proudly say “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated”. In fact social media and email are a particularly powerful combination. Especially when you are targeting your ideal customer (you know, the one whose needs and budget match your service). So before you turn your back on email altogether, make sure you have done your best to understand how to make it work for you and what works best.

Let’s talk headlines. Or email subject lines. It’s the same thing – an email subject line is a form of headline and its function is to attract the attention of your subscribers and make them open your email.

When it comes to headlines, the fundamentals still apply. However, context matters too and email has its own special quirks you need to take into account. So let’s take a more detailed look into the fundamentals of email subject lines and the magic ingredient that can make your email a top conversion channel.

1. The Headline Writing Checklist

It’s good to have a nice little checklist when writing subject lines. Here’s a good example of such a checklist:

· Specific: Is your message clear enough? Does the reader know what’s being promised/offered/promoted/sold?

· Useful: Is your message valuable to the reader? Does it have value? Does it meet their needs? Does it solve a common problem they have?

· Unique: Is your message remarkable? Does it sound compelling enough? Is it something nobody else is offering?

· Urgent: Does your message shout “Read me NOW”? Does the reader feel the need to open the email and read the message immediately?

Let’s face it – you are trying to get someone to spend their precious time on your message – one of hundreds in their inbox. You’d better incorporate all of these elements in your subject lines, otherwise your email will just turn into one of many, not the one to read.

2. The Subject Line Specifics

Leaving fundamentals aside for a moment, here are the elements you need to focus on specifically:

· Identity: Over time, what you should be aiming at is that the most compelling thing about your email message is that it’s from you. Your recipient should be able to tell whether you are a trusted source, at one glance. So identify yourself and start building trust.

· Specificity: Be extra-useful and ultra-specific, at the very beginning of your email subject line, even if that means ignoring how unique or urgent the offer is. You know who works with unique and urgent with every subject line? Spammers. Make sure you don’t cross that line, but do throw in a little tease here and there.

· Urgency: If each message you send claims to be urgent, then none is. Urgency needs to be used correctly – only when the message is useful, has a real deadline and it’s compelling enough for readers to act on now. When you base your email marketing on value your subscribers wouldn’t want to miss out. Perhaps think about hitting the Compelling sweet spot when crafting your subject lines instead of overt urgency.

Length: Shorter subject lines are better – the more compact, the more compelling. Don’t skip the useful and specific, but do try to compress the fundamentals into the most powerful, yet concise headline.

· Spam-free: It’s a good practice to rely on spam checking software. As we all know certain words trigger spam filters but there is still plenty of confusion about which words are problematic. Some guides say to avoid the word “free” like the plague. If you are not sure which words to avoid, simply let the spam checking software do its job and you focus on crafting a compelling message.

3. The Magic Ingredient

Your ultimate goal is to convert your emails into more leads and sales, however getting someone to trust you with their email address is not that easy. No longer do people sign up for anything and everything. Once you build your email list and have that initial trust, you need to keep those readers. In email marketing trust and substance matter the most. How do you make sure you are treated as a treasured guest in those inboxes and invited back? You have to over-deliver on the value.

The inbox is a stressful place. How do you deal with email marketing? Can we help?

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