Fitting First Words: 10 Tips for Effective "From" Names and Subject Lines
The first scene from a movie, the first notes of a song, the first words in a book--all set the tone and can encourage you to keep watching, listening and reading.
Likewise, the first elements of an email—the "From" name and subject line—will help dictate whether recipients ignore, delete or open your message. For this reason, determining "From" names and subject lines are among the most impor¬tant decisions for email marketers. Here are 10 tips for getting them right:
1) Specify a "From" name.
The worst mistake marketers make with the "From" line is not specifying a friendly "From" name at all, instead using a generic address such as "firstname.lastname@example.org." These are harder to recognise, less trustworthy, can be mistaken for spam, and are basically missed branding opportunities.
The most heinous example is the chilly "no-reply@XYZ.com" address. If a customer has just made a purchase or otherwise interacted with you, "don't call us, we'll call you" is not the vibe you want to send.
2) Keep it simple.
In general, go with the obvious choice when selecting a "From" name. Most of the time, the one that recipients would expect to see is the best option. Then, it's just a matter of sticking with it to establish instant recognition and trust. A vague and ineffective "From" name, on the other hand, can doom an email to be deleted, unopened or even provoke a spam complaint.
3) Don't use a specific person's name.
While more personal than "email@example.com," using a specific person's name—or worse, several different individual names—is one of the biggest email mistakes you'll ever make. The reason? Your customers and prospects are likely receiving emails every day from some variation of "Mary Smith"—and in many instances have no idea who "Mary Smith" is or what company she is with. Two exceptions:
• The person's name is your brand or is so recognisable (e.g. Steve Jobs, Martha Stewart, Seth Godin), especially in your particular industry, that it actually makes sense.
• You're deploying lead-nurture emails, and the prospect has already had direct contact from a specific salesperson.
4) Take a consistent approach.
Resist the temptation to swap a perfectly good "From" name simply as a one-time gimmick or attention-getter. Do, however, customise the actual content within the email. A special message from the CEO can end with his or her signature, an event invitation can actually look like an invitation, and an email touting a special promotion can feature coupon imagery.
5) Differentiate among newsletter brands or email streams.
Use different "From" names to distinguish among email streams, but incorporate a common style, such as the brand or company name, to promote continuity. For example, U.K. airline bmibaby uses multiple "From" names, each of which clearly signals a different kind of message stream:
• "bmibaby" is the "From" name on promotional messages.
• "bmibaby Customer Contact Centre" is the "From" name on flight-related triggered messages, such as pre-flight checklists.
6) Convey a sense of urgency in subject lines.
If a recipient doesn't open your message and act on it the first time he or she sees it, it's more likely to get buried in the inbox. Use dates, deadlines and a sense of scarcity to help motivate recipients to take immediate action on your message.
7) Personalise and avoid the generic.
Make subject lines personal with targeted content based on preferences, demographics and behaviour, e.g. "Price alert: Cheap deals from London going fast" or "Lindsay, Details on Your Upcoming Hotel Stay."
Besides boosting relevancy, this approach will help ensure you don't fall prey to the generic and boring ("From the desk of John Smith, Editor," "White Paper of the Month) or the spammy and vague ("Making History").
8) Never trick or mislead in an effort to inflate open rates.
Untruthful language may help you realise short-term revenue increases. But in the long run, subject lines that overpromise or deceive will ultimately destroy trust with recipients, damaging your brand and driving customers away. It's just not worth it.
9) Remember that branding trumps discounts when it comes to sharing.
While some creative elements don't seem to factor heavily into an email's "shareworthiness," a Silverpop study showed that the emails most frequently shared are more likely to feature brands or product names in the subject line rather than specific discount offers. This supports the notion that trust and affinity are more important motivators of sharing than simple price cuts or savings.
10) Get subject line testing right.
When testing subject lines, determine the winner based on your most important conversion metric—e.g., revenue, average order value, downloads or registrations. If you rely solely on open rate, you might pick an underachiever. And remember: Test a few times to minimise variables that could affect the income.
By carefully selecting your "From" name, making smart decisions regarding subject lines, and constantly looking for new ways to make your messages more relevant and engaging, you can make a strong first impression that transitions over time into a long, mutually beneficial relationship.
Latest jobs Jobs web feed
- Account Director Dot-Gap £45k, Central London
- Digital Strategist Dot-Gap £50k, Central London
- Decision Sciences Analyst Dot-Gap £35k, London
- Digital Media Manager Dot-Gap £35k, Central London
- Head of Display Dot-Gap £75k, Central London
- Integrated Account Manager Dynamic New Alliances £25000.00 - £30000.00 per annum, London