How we find the best subject line for your business

Who has time to read all their emails? With 69% of us consigning emails to the spam folder based solely on subject lines, not many of us.

We spend a fraction of a second evaluating the subject line in our inbox and if it doesn't immediately grab our attention, we’ll move on to the next one. To give your marketing email the best chance of being opened and read, a good subject line is essential. So how do you get it right?

As specialists, subject lines are something we’re obsessed with. We know that every business is different and there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution, so we approach subject line creation by honing in on the nuances within your business audience. Here’s how.

Getting a fuller picture

To understand the makeup of a business' audience and what they respond to most, we take an iterative approach. That means we test several email subject lines on real customers and analyse the resulting open rates, click-throughs and conversion rates. This data allows us to see what is working well, where we could do better, and how we can maximise the effectiveness of emails among key audiences.

The System

At Winbox, we’re obsessed with sport, so it’s no surprise that our testing process resembles a knock-out competition. This is better known as A/B split testing and it involves a series of rounds comparing the performance of variable subject lines. Here’s how it works:

Round 1:  For the first email of the campaign we want to find out what kind of subject lines your audience responds to: general or specific. We send half the recipients an email with a generic subject line, “Winbox May 2016 newsletter”, for example, and the other half with a more specific “Ten ways to grow your email subscriptions.” We look at the data to see which performed better and to get an understanding of what readers want from their newsletter.

Round 2: For the second email we send the best performing subject line from the last round, generic for example, but this time we split it with a multi-proposition subject line. A multi-proposition subject line is where we explain more than just one item in the email. For example “Growing your subscriber list, Winbox news, plus more.”  Are subscribers responding better to this type of line or is it too complex? Sometimes too much information can put people off.

Round 3: For the next email, we take the winner of the last test and follow the same split process again. In this instance we want to find out whether a personalised subject line (one using the recipient’s first name, say) performs better than one without.

Round 4: We’re now starting to understand our audience so can try something a bit different. We take the best performer from round 3 and try it with something a bit more quirky: one subject line with an emoji, and one without.

The more ways you can test and measure your audience the better. Try slight variations and big changes - when it comes to subject lines, there are no ‘golden rules’. It’s all about improving your understanding of your audience. The split-testing approach we use at Winbox helps identify exactly what our clients’ audiences want from emails – and the results speak for themselves.

For more expert knowledge on subject lines and much more, check out our blog. If you want us to work our magic on your marketing emails, contact Marc @ Winbox.