Recently, the Turnkey Sports Poll (a monthly survey of 2,000+ sports business executives) asked what motivates a person to open a marketing email. A whopping 63% of respondents selected “Sender”, while 21% chose “Subject Line”. 12% said they never open marketing emails, period.

What’s an email marketer to make of these responses? To me, the first (and most obvious) conclusion to draw is that if a consumer is interested in your company, they’re more likely to open your emails. Excellent… but also kind of a “no duh” statement. So, let’s focus on the next biggest batch of respondents: the “subject line” scanners.

Before we can address subject lines, we need to address email content. Your marketing emails shouldn’t be filled with… filler. Rather, they should contain easy to digest, to-the-point, helpful information… which should then be reflected in your subject line.

My personal ‘marketing emails’ inbox perpetually features an embarrassing pile of unopened messages. Every day, I delete dozens – even hundreds – without giving them a glance. Take a look at which ones survived this past weekend’s deleting spree:

From Spartan Race, “Labor Day Discount Enclosed”
From Amazon Prime, “New Feature: Download Prime Movies & TV Shows”
From the Philadelphia Zoo, “It’s A Zoo-per Weekend for a Visit”
From Shutterfly, “Enjoy 101 Free Prints. Ends Wednesday.”

Yes, I am interested in each of the brands listed above… but I’m also interested in dozens of the brands whose emails currently reside in my trash. What sets the above messages apart? I personally think it’s that their subject lines are all straight to the point. None (save the zoo pun) are whimsical, or purposefully ambiguous teasers, which saved ME the trouble of having to click in. Sure, that sounds sad – I can’t spare a second for a click? – but it’s true: in today’s world, everyone’s getting TONS of marketing emails, so the most considerate thing a brand can do is save you time by choosing a clear, informative subject line. This implies trust in the consumer: if the content’s relevant, s/he will click. If the content’s not relevant, why try to trick him or her into a click? Rather, focus on improving your segmented marketing/related content – that’s the core issue.

For comparisons’ sake: many of the emails I received that went straight in the trash – “We’re Ready!”, “Today’s Special Buy of the Day!”, “Just For You”, etc. – didn’t tell me enough to get me to click, even though I was interested in each of those senders’ brands.

Yes, email marketing strategies differ significantly for B2B vs. B2C companies, and much has to do with the content being emailed. However, for those trying to entice that fifth of sportsbiz executives whose decision to click or not to click hinges on subject line, try testing a bare-bones, direct approach. Your potential customers may appreciate you saving them time with a straightforward subject.

August TSP Results (Q13)
What most impacts your decision whether or not to open a marketing email?

Sender – 63%
Subject line – 21%
Day/time received – 1%
Other (Please specify) – 1%
Nothing – I always open marketing emails – 1%
Nothing – I never open marketing emails – 12%
Not sure/no response – 1%

Received a great marketing email recently? Share the subject line with blogger Emily Huddell!