Secrets of Successful From Names and Subject Lines

Silverpop published a whitepaper with with some best practices for the “From” name and “Subject Line” in your email communication. This article is a must read if email marketing is part of your job.  Here are some highlights from the whitepaper

From Name

When choosing a “From” name, there are two key attributes

  1. Selecting a name that’s easily recognizable.
  2. Con­sistency—using the same name to increase recipient familiarity with your brand and build a relationship.

An effective “From” name:

  • Becomes the “face” of your company or brand
  • Serves as a trigger to open your messages
  • Stands out in the sea of subject-line sameness
  • Helps readers find your message if it gets routed to the junk folder
  • Differentiates individual message streams such as promotional versus transactional
  • Is what the recipient uses to sort or search messages

Do’s and Don’ts of “From” Name Usage

  1. Do pick the most logical, rec­ognized brand that would make sense to subscribers and that they would most likely expect to see in their inboxes.
  2. Don’t change “From” names repeatedly. Once you choose a name, stick with it.
  3. Do use different “From” names to differentiate among newsletter brands or email streams. How­ever, incorporate a common style, such as the brand or company name, to promote continuity. As an example, bmibaby, the UK air­line, uses multiple “From” names, each of which clearly signals a different kind of message stream:
    • “bmibaby” is the “From” name on promotional messages.
    • “bmibaby Customer Contact Centre” is the “From” name on flight-related triggered messages, such as pre-flight checklists.
  4. Don’t use a long “From” name—keep it as short as possible, while still conveying your brand correctly.
  5. Do test a few “From” names (over a few sends to increase confidence in the results) if you’re starting a new email program or if you have a strategic reason to change your “From” name and are unsure of the best new option.

Subject Lines

  1. Consider including a product, sub-brand or newsletter name early in the subject line when you use the same “From” name for multiple message streams.
  2. Use subject lines of short, medium or long length but make sure to include key information within the first 40 to 50 characters.
  3. Be creative. Use personality and humor when appropriate, but make sure humor is consistent with your brand.
  4. Never trick or mislead in an effort to inflate open rates. Subject lines that overpromise or deceive will ultimately destroy trust with recipients, damaging your brand and driving customers away.
  5. Highlight the primary offer of the message. Generic content approaches, like “Wednesday’s Deal of the Day,” or “Top Headlines for Thursday August 26,” will have minimal impact on engagement unless you make them more relevant to the email’s specific content.
  6. Use a sense of urgency—dates, deadlines and a sense of scarcity to help motivate recipients to take action.
  7. Personalize with targeted content based on prefer­ences, demographics and behavior, e.g. “Price alert: Cheap deals from Atlanta going fast” or “Lindsay, Details on Your Upcoming Hotel Stay.”
  8. Avoid subject lines that are generic/boring (“From the desk of John Smith, Editor – June 19, 2011,” “September’s White Paper of the Month) or spammy/vague (“Making History”).
  9. Generally avoid all caps, exclamation points and overly aggressive subject lines that might get flagged as spam.
  10. Test, test, test—sometimes breaking the rules can pay off.
  11. Be contextual and timely. Leverage topics in the news, cultural events and customer lifecycle stages for creativity—but be careful that you don’t offend segments of your subscriber base.
  12. Use conversion rate to measure subject line effectiveness. The purpose of a subject line goes beyond opens and is key to setting recipients up to take the action you want them to take.

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