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Five reasons your email subject line doesn’t work

If you’re running an email marketing campaign that’s getting some results, but not the results you want, it’s time to try something new.

Is it possible you’re doing something wrong? Are there any other ways to get those open rates trending higher — and by the end of the week? Check out these tips for what you should stop doing right away.

1. It’s too long. Your subject line is not a sentence. And it never should be. Keep it short and simple. Some email clients, such as AOL and Hotmail, truncate long subject lines around 50 characters. Other clients truncate at 80 characters.

Eighty characters isn’t much. In fact, it’s less than a tweet. Practice writing subject lines that are punchy, short and sweet. Not only will you improve your emails, you’ll also improve your writing.

Here are two examples of short and sweet subject lines:

Learn how to make more money at online poker
A special offer for online poker players

2. It’s got no hook. It’s one thing to be a good communicator and have a clear subject line that reveals what your email is about. It’s another thing to tell your readers the whole story. If you do that, they’ll never open your messages!

Give your readers a reason to open your messages. Tell them what they’ll learn, but don’t tell them the whole story. Or you can tease them with benefits.

These subject lines that hook readers in:

How to increase conversions by 20%
Do this and you’ll get more player traffic to your site

3. It’s a trick. Tricks drive people crazy with anticipation. But email readers get so many of them that they can quickly grow to resent the emails that promise riches, only to contain a marketing message. You can, and should, pique your reader’s curiosity. Just make sure the content of your email delivers on the subject line’s promise.

4. It’s off topic. If you’re running a list that you collected on your online poker site, don’t start sending offers for online bingo. If those subscribers wanted online bingo, they would have gone to your online bingo site.

How far is too far off topic? That can be a challenging distinction to make, but you have to draw that line somewhere. Figure out what your site, and your brand, are about. Use those emails you collect on your site to promote the offers that are highly relevant to your niche. Staying on topic will help increase your open rates. It will also and reduce the likelihood you’ll inspire a reader to unsubscribe because you sent them something that didn’t meet their expectations.

5. It doesn’t say anything. I’m sure you’ve seen subject lines that use words, but don’t say anything. Make sure you’re finding something to say in your subject line. Suggest a quick and easy way to do something. Highlight a benefit. You can even serialize your emails if it’s relevant to your business and the content of your emails.

Here are three good examples of subject lines that actually say something:

How to find the best forex trading resources
Enjoy the Kentucky Derby – Place your bets online
Online Poker Digest Mar. 4, 2011

In fact, if you check out Mail Chimp’s study of open rates, you’ll find that serialized subject lines outperform other styles of subject lines by as much as 400 percent.

Remember, your email’s subject line isn’t everything. You still have to get your readers to click through your offers and convert. But without a great subject line that inspires them to open their email, you’ve got no chance of getting that valuable click.