Email marketing begins with an "open." Without email "opens," there will be no messaging, no conversions, and no response. The success of your email marketing campaigns, then, hinges on the effectiveness of your email subject lines.
After all, if your subject line fails to elicit opens, then conversions and responses can’t happen. Following these basic rules will yield compelling subject lines that convey value and boost open rates among physicians and mid-level healthcare professionals.
Short Subject Lines Convey Value and Introduce Your Message
The debate regarding the ideal character length for email subject lines is ongoing in the email marketing community, and the rise in the use of mobile devices to read emails plays a key role. Still, the essential truth remains that shorter is better, particularly in physician email marketing, where you have a few nanoseconds to capture a provider’s attention.
A surprising number of marketers ignore the fact that the iPhone, the most popular mobile device used by HCPs in the U.S., displays only 30 to 35 characters. Subject lines exceeding this length are cut off, leaving a partial subject line that doesn’t convey the full meaning. These truncated messages lose their impact, and HCPs often ignore these emails.
Proper Keyword Placement Boosts Open Rates
Shorter subject line length and varied rendering across devices only increase the importance of proper keyword placement in email subject lines. Front-loading, or placing the most important keywords or phrases at the beginning of your subject lines, ensures that these terms are visible even in instances where the subject line is not displayed in full.
Ideally, your subject lines are short enough that they’re displayed in full anyway. But recipients often scan their inboxes for words and phrases that catch their attention, so words at the beginning of the subject line are more noticeable.
Optimizing Pre-header Design Impacts Email Open Rates on Mobile
The pre-header design is too often overlooked by marketers, particularly in light of the increased use of mobile devices to open and read emails. Viewing the pre-header in a mobile inbox is an advantage over the PC, where most users default to viewing only the subject line.
This is a critical design element, as iOS devices will insert the available copy when the pre-header is not programmed and designed properly. In some cases, this is a disadvantage and can detract from the value of the message by displaying copy indicating that a message or advertisement is developed, funded, or sponsored by a third-party.
The best subject lines compel audiences to open emails by convincing recipients that the message is valuable and worthy of their time. Abiding by these rules and regulations can boost your email open rates for physician email marketing campaigns by avoiding spam triggers and conveying value through elements such as proper keyword use and subject line length.
Choosing Words Carefully Avoids the Spam Trigger Trap
Many email clients rely on a spam filter, which scans email subject lines and content to identify and flag messages likely to be spam. Over-using words known to trigger spam filters — such as “free,” “promotion,” or “invest” — may cause your message to be flagged and sent to the spam folder.
Instead, consider using words that are known to boost engagement and email open rates. According to a 2013 analysis of the effectiveness of commonly used words on open rates and clicks, business-to-business consumers are beginning to ignore words such as “report” and “intelligence.” On the other hand, words indicating the message is newsworthy and time sensitive, such as “alert” and “breaking,” can boost open rates by more than 30 percent.
Using Symbols in Email Subject Lines is Risky for Physician Email Marketing
Symbols such as emoticons are becoming increasingly popular on social networking platforms. As some mobile devices offer support for various symbols within email services, marketers have experimented with including symbols in email subject lines. The problem is that symbols aren’t universally supported across devices or email service providers. Special characters aren’t supported by Outlook 2003, for instance, and on iOS devices, certain characters are actually displayed as small, colorful images known as “Emoji.”
The biggest risk is that a pharmaceutical company or hospital may come across as unprofessional to HCPs. Not many physicians or mid-level healthcare providers will view a brightly colored heart icon in an email subject line as an indicator that the message is a must-read.