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Janet Roberts

Four Stand-Out Subject Line Strategies
By Janet Roberts

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In a recent Ezine-Tip, I listed four subject lines to avoid if you don't want your newsletters to get mixed up with the latest fashions in spam or trapped in spam filters.

(Did you miss it? It's here)

As depressing or futile as it might have seemed to read yet another list of what not to put in a subject line, the good news is that you still have plenty of room to maneuver.

Here are four ways to create subject lines that should slip through the content filters and boost your newsletter's delivery chances:

  1. Always put your ezine name first in the subject line.
    I know I've said this in previous tips on subject lines, but not everybody gets the message. Many publishers do what Ezine-Tips does -- they place the name in brackets before going on to list ezine content or to date the issue.

    This identifies you immediately, no matter how little of the subject line actually shows up in your recipient's in-boxes. Don't slide the name in after other copy, though; you lose the immediate impact.

  2. Shorter works better than longer.
    Email clients -- the programs your recipients use to read their email -- vary in the number of characters visible in the subject line, and where that subject line appears. Many junk-email messages have subject lines that use more characters than my in-box will display.

    For that reason, and to make sure your recipients recognize you instantly in the in-box, keep subject lines to 40 to 60 characters, including spaces. If you use a list-management program that gives you a blank form for the subject line, try not to exceed that length.

    If necessary, sacrifice the extra content and keep the name.

  3. Avoid the obvious.
    I get a couple of ezines that use the same subject line each time: "Your (name) is here!" Gee, I could have figured that one out for myself. The sender could have said something more descriptive in the same number of words (and without the exclamation point, which is becoming a content-filter trap): "[Name] Tips and Tricks" as a generic example.

  4. Beat the "F" word.
    Justified or not, "free" has become a major filter trigger. You can rant about the unfairness of it all, or you can find a way to recast your offer.

    "Gift with subscription" or "gift with purchase" is a classic way to describe a downloadable e-book or report that readers get when they subscribe. "Bonus" is another code word for free.

    You probably know "free gift" is horrifyingly redundant, but "free trial" is, too, if you're offering to let subscribers try your paid newsletter, wander around in your archives or access a premium database for a limited time. Try putting the trial period in the subject line: "Two weeks of [name] on us," for example.

    Don't forget the ezine or company name, even in an ancillary mailing like this one.

Ezine-Tips for May 29, 2003

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