Tag Archives: email

There's no point sending out an email with a subject line that doesn't grab attention, speak to the readers, and compel them to open and read the rest of your email. Yet the subject line is all too often an afterthought -- written in just a few seconds, after the body of the email has already been finished. Much like a headline on the front page of a newspaper, an email subject line is your best chance to attract the reader, and it can make -- or break -- your email campaign.

Let's explore what makes for a successful subject line.

Aweber, an email marketing company that has studied millions of subject lines, lists its most effective subject line to date as, quite simply: You Are Not Alone.

Why does this subject line work so well? It's all about the "need to belong," according to Sean Platt in a post on Copyblogger:

"I've seen this subject line used successfully on emails ranging from content marketing to personal development to potty training, with a dozen verticals in between. The results are always the same. I don't want to be alone is a compelling, universally recognized statement. The need to belong, to know that others are going through the same life experiences, is primal."

Besides using "You are not alone" as the subject line in your next email marketing campaign, here are some tips to help you create a strong subject line that boosts your open rate.

Be Relevant: What’s a hot button for your readers? You need to know what’s going on in their world to grab their attention. Try incorporating a relevant and timely item in your subject line.

Be Clear: Don't get too clever with your subject lines. Be clear, and tell the reader what to actually expect in the email. An article from MailChimp sums this up nicely: "Don't sell what's inside. Tell what's inside."

By the Numbers: Including a number in your subject line can make it seem like the content won't ramble on forever. “4 Ideas for Improving Sales Today,” for instance, makes me think, “OK, I have the time to look at four ideas and maybe get a good one or two.”

Active Is Better Than Passive: Subject lines that lead the reader further into the email, that suggest action, are better than subject lines that go nowhere. Have the subject take the reader by the hand into the text. Be active.

Word Count Counts: Conventional wisdom tells us that a subject line that works is only 5-8 words and 40 characters long. Think of passing a billboard at 60 mph, or a bus with a banner on the side passing you on a crowded street. Similarly, Microsoft Outlook, Mac Mail and just about all email applications display only the first few words on a subject line, so make sure yours is short and sweet.

Test and Test and Test:  A/B split testing doesn't have to be overly complicated. Just try the following: If you want to see what subject line is getting the best results, write two. Take 25% of your mailing list, split that in half, and send one subject line to Group A and another to Group B. Wait a few days and then look at the open and click-thru rates to see which performed better. Use the subject line that performed better for the remaining 75% of your mailing list.

For inspiration, check out some of the best and worst email subject lines from a comprehensive study by MailChimp of over 200 million emails.

What other email tips have worked for you?

Guest Author:  David Grebow is a freelance small business journalist who writes for Vistaprint, a leader in custom websites and other marketing products and services for micro businesses all over the world. David holds an MBA from Harvard, and has written for Harvard Business Review and The Economist.


An estimated 90,000 experts, media and social media presenters descended on San Francisco last month for the biggest cloud computing event of the year. Dreamforce 2012 featured more than 750 education sessions, but it was a live social customer service demonstration that I remember most.

In the middle of the expo floor, the “Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center” fielded calls, tweets, posts and updates from Dreamforce attendees in real time. The center was ringed by flashy streams of social conversations that resembled stock exchange tickers. These enabled onlookers to watch and learn from their practiced responses.

I was able to glean a few key takeaways from watching the center in action. For those of you that weren't able to attend, here's a few of those best practices for better socialized customer service.

Always Post a Public Response

Salesforce.com Senior Vice President of Solutions Marketing Fergus Griffin told me every company should at least be thinking about customer service through social.

“I guarantee your customers are already using the channel, and they’re probably already talking about your brand,” he said.

If these mentions are negative, social media gives your consumers a means to spread the news far and fast. To mitigate this risk, companies should always acknowledge the comment in social before taking the interaction to another channel. Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center agents demonstrated this in best practices at Dreamforce. If an attendee asks a highly technical question on Twitter, the agent might reply, “I’m emailing you now!” or “Here’s a link to a Chatter discussion on this topic.”

This approach publicly demonstrates that the company is listening and responds to everyone.

Plan Your Process

Many companies struggle with creating an efficient process for handling social media requests. If the community manager sees the comment on Twitter and responds, how does the company track that interaction? What if the question on Facebook or Twitter needs to be discussed privately? Do you tweet your service phone number? Provide an email address? What are the risks of either?

Make sure that your team defines clear answers to all of these questions. You want the resolution to be seamless and for nothing to fall through the cracks. At Dreamforce, for example, simple questions were answered right in the feed, while more complex queries were taken into email, or live chat. It's up to your team to define what's best for your product or service. Just make sure it's consistent. These experiences increase your chances of turning a latent social media follower into a brand advocate.

Hashtag Common Questions

Griffin told me that last year during Dreamforce most interactions across all service channels involved questions about where things were located, recommendations for events, and tips for getting around the conference. Hashtags allow customer service managers to instantly create a knowledge base for topics such as these.

During this year’s event, Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center agents used hashtags like #Dreamforc2012, #DF2012 and #DF12 to index conversations about the event. That way they could quickly reference those tweets for relevant questions.

Then, when a Dreamforce visitor tweeted, “What sessions are best for social customer service?” the agent could respond “@UserName check out everyone’s food recommendations by searching #Dreamforce2012! and #socialcustserv” When they search those hashtags, the visitor could scan through everyone’s suggestions. This saves the agent time, while still providing a helpful personal response.

Prioritize Thoughtfully

One of the biggest challenges with providing customer service through social is dealing with the sheer volume of requests. Griffin said companies should have a well-defined strategy for prioritizing responses.

This should include ranking factors from social–a Klout score, for example–and customer history. A company might choose to respond first to longtime customers or those with a history of high-value purchases.

“Companies should strike a balance between who [the customer] is in the community, but also who they are to you,” Griffin says.

At the Salesforce Service Cloud Call Center, social mention identification and prioritization was automated through Salesforce.com’s Radian6 Social Hub. This system trolled the Web for #Dreamforce, @Dreamforce and Dreamforce mentions on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms. These were instantly turned into a service ticket, prioritized and routed to the appropriate social response agent.

Engage Customers You Might Never Have Known

Customer service through social media is not just about providing another interaction channel in addition to phone, email or live chat. Social allows you to find customers who might never have sent their question otherwise. And if they never send the question, they may never get their problem solved and fears of buying eased.

How does your company handle customer service through social? Let us know by commenting here.

 Guest Author:  Ashley Furness is a CRM Software Analyst for research firm Software Advice. She has spent the last six years reporting and writing business news and strategy features. Her work has appeared in myriad publications including Inc., Upstart Business Journal, the Austin Business Journal and the North Bay Business Journal. Before joining Software Advice in 2012, she worked in sales management and advertising.



As a customer, you’ve probably experienced the benefits of mobile marketing to give you discounts, specials, and freebies from your favorite brand. Right? Well, as a business owner, you can use this same type of hands-on mobile marketing to reach customers more effectively than ever before.

Even the most popular fast food chains like Subway, Pizza Hut, Burger King, and Wendy’s started marketing to customers with text marketing, iPhone apps, and mobile coupons just a few years ago. Many of these mobile apps will allow a customer to place an order online and pick up their food moments later. Simply brilliant.

Even large retailers like Target, Wal-Mart, and Best Buy stay connected with customers via text for holiday specials and discounts and have introduced iPhone apps to give customers more options. Instead of visiting the official website, customers can read reviews, order products, and create a gift list directly through their mobile phone.

As a business owner, you can take your mobile marketing campaign beyond just the standard text message. You can get creative with the following ideas:

  • Mobile Payments: Starbucks recently introduced Starbucks Card Mobile payments available at more than 1000 Safeway locations via the Android App. Customers can load up their Starbucks card on their mobile phone and use their phone to pay for their coffee at their convenience. This means that Starbucks mobile payment is now available on 90% of all smartphones to make it virtually impossible for a customer not to connect with Starbucks through their mobile device. ...continue reading