Subject, your ally in engagement


You open your inbox for the first time in the day and sigh: they are work emails, spam, event invitations and endless discount coupons. Your time is valuable and you can’t open every single message. With so little time available, how do you decide which ones to open and which ones to delete?
User behavior at this point is critical to the success of your campaign. And this behavior is not linear in the omnichannel context. The subject is the first thing the sender sees, the gateway to the message we want to deliver. According to a Convince&Convert study, about 35% of users open their e-mails according to the subject and this decision is taken within 3 seconds. Are you ready?

When size matters

Considering the limitations of the iPhone, whose native application is among the most used, is a good start. It shows between 35 and 38 characters in portrait mode and 80 in landscape mode. Its main competitor, Gmail, shows even fewer characters – 33 in portrait orientation and 72 in landscape mode. Thinking about these factors, we suggest setting a subject between 25 and 33 characters, even though Gmail shows up to 100 characters on the desktop – considering the sum of subject and snippet.

There is no absolute truth about the ideal amount of characters, but the performance achieved in comparative tests can shed a light on anyone still in doubt. Keep in mind that the snippet will be shown next to or under the subject in the inbox and will also need to be included in the character count.

Number of Subject Characters x Average Opening Rate

Holy snippet, Batman!

The right arm of the subject, the snippet is your ally to reinforce the main message and encourage openness. Unlike the subject, the snippet can (and should) be used as a call-to-action and invite the reader to click. Do not underestimate its potential to arouse the interest of the reader and give that little push of relevance that was missing for the recipient to open the email.

Typically, the inbox will display the text in the first line of HTML text or the first sentence of an email. In order for your call-to-action to be selected as a snippet, it must be in the upper-left corner of the email. This way it will appear in the inbox and the links for browser opening and unsubscribing will take place in the upper right corner.

Customize and test to engage
Personalization must be present from minute one: it is undeniable that we pay more attention when someone calls us by name, for example. Opening a direct dialogue through personalization enhances performance and revenue, conveying a sense of “I know who you are and you are important to me.”

But don’t forget that you have a goal: to establish a dialogue with your audience. Different segments have different customer profiles that react differently to interactions and stimuli. Since we want to find out where the opportunities for improvement are, running A/B tests can be the solution to generate valuable insight into the habits of your recipients. To avoid being inconvenient, we need to ask ourselves:

\\ What is the best time to send? Morning, afternoon, or evening?

\\ On what day of the week is the engagement higher?

\\ Has the emoji I used attracted clicks?

\\ Talking of numbers in the subject improved campaign performance?

\\ Is using the brand name as sender working?

Like everything else in email marketing, subject and snippet also have to be experimented with. Test different snippets to see which had the best performance and led the recipient to open the email and buy, and use the lessons learned to keep it up. We can test a myriad of aspects until we reach the combination that engenders greater engagement.

Think outside the line

You’re competing for attention with many other emails in the inbox and need yours to be attractive to stand out from the crowd. The time has come to be creative. Keep an eye on the market and get inspiration from successful cases to renew your perspective and be aware of the issues that are generating buzz in social networks and memes. A reference to pop culture in the subject can be an incentive and, if relevant to your audience, generate an increase in the CTO.

Renewing your communication to conquer (or recapture) your recipients means speaking in a language that is a part of their lives.

It’s all about the approach

It is not with vinegar that you will attract bees: convey a positive message in your cart abandonment campaigns. Instead of putting the responsibility on the visitor with the subject “You forgot these items”, praise the customer’s good taste for the products chosen so he remembers why he wanted to buy. The same goes for the other stages of lifecycle.

Do not forget to respect the voice of the brand in all points of contact: being irreverent in social networks and more formal in emails passes an idea of inconsistency that can put down your branding efforts. In this way, your vocabulary and style may be the factor that creates a dialogue or breaks it once and for all.

Don’ts: escape from these traps
E-mail is no letter: exercise your capacity for synthesis and stick to the essence of the message. You don’t have to say everything you have to say on the subject, you have the body of the email for that.

A good carpenter measures, checks and only then does the cut. Do it like the carpenter and avoid unnecessary mistakes: measure twice, cut once. Check you English to avoid gaffes for lack of attention and care. The subject is as important as the rest and also needs to be reviewed.

Speaking of grammar, watch out for excessive punctuation. In the mail, less is more: to sin by excess of characters or confused ideas can hinder you opening rates and give an impression of lack of planning.

Wasting a line of your communication and underestimating the subject are mistakes that we can’t afford to make, whether your email is part of a cart abandonment campaign, update of registration, delivery status or newsletter. The subject is your starting shot to show the recipient that your email is not just another one and deserves to be opened.

Wrap up

The subject is a resource full of potential to make your message stand out from others and personalization is a determining factor when creating an irresistible subject. By triggering the data from your previous submissions and testing a lot, you’ll be on your way to creating email subjects that will encourage your audience to open and interact with your campaigns. Let’s rock!