Apr 14, 2008
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By Anne Holland, Content Director
Have you noticed? Some marketers and email publishers are testing shorter and shorter subject lines.
In the old days, we’d all try to fit in as many descriptive words as possible to increase the chances the inbox skimmer’s eye would land on a word that delighted it, and you’d grab the open. Not any more.
Now people’s inboxes are so cluttered with stuff that the teeny-tiny subject line can be best of all.
It’s about white space. When you’re skimming down a list of wordy subject lines, your eyes are trying to deal with a lot of visual clutter. Text, text, text, text.
Then, oooh! A bit of restful white space.
A one-, two- or three short-word subject line leaves space at the end. White space is eye candy in a crowded screen. Your eye dives in there automatically.
Which is why the various presidential candidates’ email campaigns have been relying, for the most part, on very short subject lines, indeed. A sampler (one subject line per line):
Yes, they can
One of the reasons I started noticing this trend -- aside from the fact that it’s glaring to the email-marketing-obsessed like me -- is at Sherpa we routinely review our own subject line success rates. I’ll get a list of all emails sent for 3-6 months for one of our weekly newsletters (we publish nine on various marketing niches altogether.) Then, I’ll skim down the subject lines, looking at open and click rates. Clicks are more important, of course.
The point is to look for trends. Is anything working in particular? Is anything really not working anymore? What tweak should we test?
The biggest standout from my last in-house subject line review was that newsletter issues with just one-two word subject lines invariably got better open rates. Maybe it’s an element of the unusual. Or maybe it’s that white space. I don’t know. What I do know is that for now it works.
And, it’s something you should be testing, too.
Got data? Let us know.