My wife and I recently bought a kids' planetarium for my 4-year-old son to look at the stars and planets as he goes to sleep. When I handed it to him, he stared at the box for a few seconds; then expressed obvious, severe disappointment. He couldn't quite comprehend what it was at first, even though the image on the box was vivid, and the font size was about 150 pt. Nevertheless, "Planetarium" isn't quite in his vocabulary yet. We unpacked it. Presto! He loves it!
We all know the adage, "never judge a book by its cover." However, just as with my son’s reaction to the unfamiliar box, it's not in our DNA to abide by this metaphor. We judge things within seconds because we seek instant gratification. In the online world, first impressions and instant gratification are often the same.
You see it all the time, people on social media make comments based on a headline alone, while they neglect to read any or all of the posted article. Whether this failure comes from a true lack of time or a shortened attention span, we can almost certainly cast some of the blame on our innate desire for instant gratification.
What catches our attention here in 2020? In the digital realm, if you spend time browsing for content online, you're pounded into submission with news articles, images, and videos wherever you go. And, given that 84% of millennials don't trust advertising, the email inbox becomes much more critical because your contacts likely permit you to send them promotions.
Oh, but it isn’t easy. 45% of the 300 billion email messages sent per day are spam. And what of the 165 million that get through? Many people subconsciously ignore emails from certain brands but aren't ready to unsubscribe from them yet. Others are more diligent; however, the average consumer likely has around 500 unread messages in their personal inboxes.
Every consumer of email has a management strategy, whether they know it or not, for their professional and personal inboxes. Hopefully, you're keeping your professional one as close to "0" unread messages as possible. If this diligence carries over to your personal inbox, congratulations to you, overachiever! JK, I'm happy to classify myself as an email ignorer.
With that said, as a marketer, how much emphasis do you place on your subject and preview lines? They are the modern-day equivalent to headline writing in magazines and newspapers when they try to match the ensuing article's tone. Creative, understandable, yet gives away only enough to draw more interest in reading the whole article. Even if folks don't open your email, optimized subject and preview lines give branding and frequency that lead to a desire to engage. There are countless variables, quite literally, that go into creating subject lines.
Below are a few we'd like to call out:
Use 1 Emoji 🙌
Emoji are ideograms and smileys used in electronic messages and web pages. Emoji exist in various genres and include facial expressions, everyday objects, places, weather types, and animals. Love them or hate them, for specific industries, emojis are a must in subject lines. Cases that use only one emoji tend to have higher open rates. Those that have two or more perform poorly, so don't overdo it.
Use short titles!
Titles with fewer than 25 characters are considered short. The average mobile Mail User Agent (MUA) limit is 53 characters. Those that are short will feature a lot of empty space, but data indicates that this is not necessarily a bad thing: According to our data, when titles contain fewer than 25 characters, opens and clicks are higher, at 22%+ and 3.5%respectively. Opens decline to 19% and clicks to 3% when titles contain 26-44 characters, and emails with long titles (longer than 45 characters) are opened only 17.5% of the time, while the click-through rate hovers at about 3%.
This has become a buzzword because it's important with all marketing methods, but especially email. Be careful not to overuse first names or blindly wish folks “happy birthday,” unless you're giving a free drink as Starbucks does. If you haven't been successful at getting someone to engage with your past emails, then leading off with birthday salutations can seem incredibly disingenuous. If you're supposed to "personalize" every email but have 5k, 500k, or 5 million contacts, then you need the assistance of a machine that knows how to process big data.
Predictive text tools!
So, now you know that you have 25 characters to convince someone of the value of your email. As an added obstacle, Google, Outlook, and Yahoo email filtering systems look at millions of factors when determining what goes to spam, promotions, and primary inboxes. Oy vey!
How can you consider all these factors as a marketer when trying to formulate your subject and preview lines? You can't. Just as doctors can't process the plethora of health data against a set of symptoms, and astrophysicists can't calculate the tug and pull of billions of stars in the universe, human beings just aren't built to take all of these metrics into account actively. Email campaigns can have up to 30,000 potential renderings, which only adds to the complexity.
Thankfully, Sendsquared has predictive, AI-powered Subject and Preview line tools to make this easy!
What the future holds for the Inbox: Brand Indicator Message Identification (BIMI)
BIMI is a new standard in the email marketing community that attaches a brand's logo to every email they send, instead of just the initials. Aside from the security issues it solves (link), it's a TREMENDOUS branding opportunity, the likes of which the inbox hasn't quite yet experienced. Subscribers, even those who aren't opening your emails, are going to become more comfortable with your company's logo and develop more trust. The early adopters of BIMI will be the beneficiaries, as over the years, more brands will adopt it, and eventually, it'll become the norm. If your company has BIMI set up, every email from your domain name will generate your logo next to it.
The single most important factor considered before opening an email is if it comes from a trusted, recognized brand. Even more so than subject lines and email content.
Linking your logo to email can be very difficult, and there are hundreds of thousands of brand and logo combinations.
According to DIGICERT, there are five main benefits for early adopters:
Which set of emails would you be more likely to engage with?
The image on the left is flat-out dull compared to the one on the right! Instant gratification and trust!