What about doing the splits with email subject lines?

MarketingProfs offers some useful advice in “The Top 10 Keys to Writing Attention-Capturing Subject Lines”. For instance, there are valid points such as not misleading, shunning spam words and avoiding phony deadlines on offers. But like the proverbial curate’s egg, we believe the article is only good in parts.

For instance, it recommends using “the 50/50 rule,” claiming: “It seems absolutely preposterous that you spend as much time crafting the subject line, along with the pre-header, as you do writing the entire text of the rest of the email, but savvy online marketers are well aware that it is mandatory. It takes time and concentration to write great subject lines.”

What about doing the splits with email subject lines?That just can’t be right, can it? Most journalists wouldn’t last very long in their job if they spent as much time agonising over the headline as they did in writing the story. Also, taking a load of time on heavy concentration will not necessarily create that eureka moment.

A winning subject line is more likely to come from its creator’s skill, experience and knowledge of the target audience. A dynamic brainstorm with colleagues seldom goes amiss either! However, from experience we have found that frequently more than one subject line will emerge as a potential winning contender; so then what?

Split (or A/B) testing has been widely used by business in areas such as assessing the impact of web content. The focus may be on text, design or layout. Typically one variation of a web section, such as a landing page, will be tested against another. The success of each page will then be assessed for results achieved that most meet the business objectives, such as increased sales leads or user engagement.

This method can have its drawbacks. For instance, it is unlikely that you can change a web page layout, such as by moving the position of a contact form, without having to make other design changes as well. This makes final assessment of what element contributed to success or failure a difficult task.

A recent article in Social Media Today also claims while most companies expect to see dramatic results in split testing, “… it’s rarely the case that these results occur. In fact, more often than not, you’ll find a split tested page has almost the exact same conversion rate.”

However, when dealing with email marketing subject lines, BBI Brandboost has found that a form of split testing can frequently achieve useful and measurable results.

In other words, you can divide your database and try out different subject lines for the same email on different segments. Open and click-through results for each subject line will enable you to judge which is the most successful from your point of view.

This approach does not interfere with your website content and your business will be able to tailor its email subject lines to the style most suited to your target audiences. It also avoids the time and soul-searching on subject line wording recommended by the MarketingProfs contributor.

BBI Brandboost continually carries out targeted email campaigns for clients across a range of sectors. Contact us on 01494 452600, by email or via the Live Chat function on our website for advice about email subject lines, content and achieving measurable results.