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Liz Mackenzie

By: Liz Mackenzie on February 17th, 2017

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Email Marketing Tips: Punctuating Your Subject Lines

Email Marketing | Analytics & Measurement

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Successful email marketing begins with people opening and reading your messages; and whether they open your email depends almost entirely on the subject line. Just as the headline of an article or blog post must grab people's attention and entice them to read on, the subject line of your email must convince them to open and read your email message. As boring and mundane as it may seem, an important element of any subject line is the punctuation. Here are 3 ideas to help you effectively punctuate your email subject lines:

1. The Period

The most common punctuation is the period; but some believe they're unnecessary. According to Smart Insights, periods have no real effect on open rates. But they further suggest that, when periods are used, the best results are achieved when they're used sparingly. If you use them in 2% to 4% of your subject lines, they stand out more and cause the reader to pay more attention. This can translate to an increase of 10% to 20% in open rates.

2. The Question Mark

Conventional wisdom says that the question mark creates curiosity and, therefore, makes people more likely to open and read your email. But Smart Insights asserts that the question mark actually has no real impact on open rates, and a significant negative effect on click rates. However, that doesn't mean you should stop asking a question in some of your subject lines. It only means you must ask the right question (specific and relevant), then provide a specific answer in the email body. In other words, don't ask a question merely for the sake of asking a question.

3. The Exclamation Point

If you think using an exclamation evokes excitement in your reader, you're probably mistaken. In the context of email subject lines, the exclamation point is merely an indicator that the email content is, somehow, special. For example:

"Order today and get 50 percent off!" feels more special than "Order today and get 50 percent off."

And it actually works. When Smart Insights looked at brands that use the exclamation mark now and then, they found that most experienced a 10 to 20% increase open rates.

The common and most important takeaway here is to use all of these punctuations and use them sparingly, rather than focusing on any particular one.

To learn more about how to use email as an effective marketing tool for your association or non-profit, contact us online or call 703-297-8888. We also invite you to follow us on Facebook and Twitter.