Last month I received an email from a trusted sender with the subject line “Re: ideas in your inbox.” I was confused as to why I was receiving a reply to a message I did not write with a subject I did not know. When I opened this email, I discovered that it was not a reply email but that it was a marketing email with a misleading subject line. This was not a mistake or typo as I have continued to receive marketing emails from this company with “Re:” in the subject line over the last month.
Studying open rates of marketing emails and performing A/B tests to see which subject lines generate the most opens is a practice that we highly encourage with all of our email marketing clients. However, it’s important to make sure you’re looking at what the metrics mean – not just the numbers.
The marketer that sent out the Re: emails likely looked at his open rates and noticed that they went up when he used this misleading subject line. Success, right? No. More people may have opened the email because they were tricked into thinking it was a response to something they sent; however, once his recipients realized they were tricked, I am sure the unsubscribes will go up and the feeling toward this company and ultimately their sales will go down. Sales and your brand reputation should always be the goal – not open rates or clicks. If you’re only focusing on moving those numbers then you are missing the point and potentially doing more damage than good.
We’ve seen in-house marketers who understand this, but who are responsible for simply moving those numbers and their performance is judged by execs who may be blindly looking at the numbers. In this case we would recommend standing up and pointing out this flaw in measuring success. In doing so you’ll be seen as an employee who sees the big picture and is focused on driving the strategy, not just an easily replaceable cog in the wheel.
To help you both improve those open rates and better focus on the bottom line we’ve put together a list of DO’S and DON’TS for email subject lines:
When done correctly, email marketing is one of the most effective ways of engaging with your customers and prospects. At MODassic, we carefully study many campaign metrics and constantly make adjustments to refine an email marketing strategy and deliver ROI.