With the Christmas season coming up, Stefan Pollard at Email Labs has published some useful tips on how to make your emails stand out from the crowd.

Specifically, he’s focused on the thorny issue of subject lines, and how to improve the odds that readers will open your mail.

According to Stefan, a good subject line should have:

  • Branding – customers should immediately see your brand or company name.
  • Urgency

    – You should sum up the message’s content as well as its most compelling feature.
  • Brevity – It should tell the story in 60 characters or fewer – research has shown that click rates go down dramatically when the subject line is longer than 50 characters. 

Stefan also has some other Yuletide tips:

  •  Strive to be Distinct

”At any other time of the year, the three main elements of a good subject line will get you noticed in the inbox. Now, though, you’re not the only one offering free shipping, or an upgrade, or a 50% discount.

“Both of these are legitimate incentives. However, they probably belong inside, in the creative section, more than in the subject line, unless you add an urgent or unusual qualification.”

  • Know What Your Competition is Up To:

”You should already subscribe to your competition’s email offers to see what they’re up to, if you’re not finding out from trade publications or retailer gossip.

“If you don’t have the time or energy to do that, a good free resource shows what’s active right now in email offers: Chad White’s Retail Email blog, which tracks the email campaigns of major e-retailers by subject line.”

  • Remember the Sender Line:

”Your sender line (the “from” line) is also important, because readers look at both when deciding whether to open, trash or spam-report an email message.”

”Configure your email-delivery program to show a company name, brand name, newsletter or offer name in the sender line, rather than an email address or a person’s name.”

Further Reading:

Email Marketing Buyer’s Guide 2006

‘Tis the Season for Standout Subject Lines – EmailLabs