[First Name], Read This Definitive Guide to Optimizing Your Email Subject Lines and CTAs for Better Conversions

Each morning, I grab my coffee, sit down at my desk, and open up my email. As Gmail loads, I can't wait to begin my daily ritual of clicking all of the unread marketing emails in my inbox, marking them as read, and sending them straight to trash. Clearing out my inbox is both a highlight of my day and a way to keep my OCD in check; if I have more than seven emails in my inbox I get super uncomfortable!

By now you're either nodding along (hello my fellow type a spirit animals) or thinking:  "What if one of those emails is something super relevant, a life-changing offer that you'll only ever hear about if you open that email?" It's a good question, and I'll start by letting the record show that I do read marketing emails, especially if it's from an entity I already subscribe to or from a sender I recognize. But for emails that are trying to sell me something, I almost always delete them.

You may wonder if I have some sort of sixth sense that allows me to see the content of an email without opening it -- that'd be an awesome superpower! In reality, though, I put a lot of weight on subject lines. I'm not alone in this; your subject line can make or break your conversion rate. The average email open rate continues to hover around 17.8%. Plus, even if a reader opens your email, you still have to convince him or her to visit your website or the resource you're promoting!

Kiwi Creative recently published our 2020 State of the Industry Report where we surveyed tech marketers all across the country. 76% of survey respondents said that their company uses email marketing. However, around half of these tech marketers rate their efforts at four or five stars. After analyzing all of the data from our survey, we concluded that while 3/4 tech marketers use email marketing in some fashion, it is not consistently effective. 

So how do we make our emails effective so that users read them and convert? In this blog post, we'll tackle some strategies you can use to optimize your subject lines and CTAs to boost your email's personability and conversion rate.

Are You Sending the Same Exact Email to Everyone?

The 2020 State of the Industry Report found that 46% of tech marketers do not segment their emails before sending them! This is a huge missed opportunity for personalization, including in your subject line. Personalizing your email's subject line can (and should!) go farther than, "Bob, Make Your Calendar Snazzy Again." Adding in your recipients' first names is not enough.

First, email segmentation is a fancy term that refers to dividing your digital mailing list into different groups of people so you can tailor your message appropriately. There are countless ways you can segment your email lists. One of my favorite ways to explain the process is to segment geographically. Imagine this: your company is headquartered in Cleveland so you refer to your favorite drink as "pop" in a subject line when sending out a mass email to the entire country. Someone in California reads it and is instantly put off by "pop" since they refer to that same drink as "soda." 

Had you segmented your email list, you could've referred to "pop" and "soda" correctly based on the region you were sending the email to! While geographic segmentation is one common strategy, my favorite relates to your marketing personas. At Kiwi, we have personas built out for tech marketers, C-Suite leaders, and salespeople. These are three distinct professions, meaning that the emails we send should be different based on their audience. If a marketing professional reads a subject line tailored to a salesperson, it's going to feel weird! 

The same can be said for CTA's in the body of your email. A good CTA is action-oriented and compels the reader to click it. You want the reader to look at your email copy and feel like you understand the dilemma they're facing or that you have answered one of their questions. Tailoring your CTAs based on your email segments can also go a long way in getting better conversions. If your reader feels like something of value to him or her lies behind the CTA, they'll feel more inclined to click it. One surefire way of making them feel like this is to make it more personable to their segment!

Segment your email list into smaller groups to help make your email more personable. Moreover, tailor your subject line and CTAs to the audience in each segment to boost the chances of the reader opening it. Spending a little extra time building out proper email segments can reap numerous benefits for your overall email marketing strategy.

Does Your Recipient Feel Special?

One common issue we see with tech marketing emails is that they spend too much time talking about the capabilities of a given platform or service rather than the benefits it can bring to a prospective user. If your audience opens your email, they do not want to read a whitepaper or spec doc that they can easily find online. When you send emails, you want to make the end-user feel as if they are understood, that you know their pain points, and have a solution for them.

It's possible to make your reader feel special starting with a subject line! Another key tidbit to keep in mind with subject lines is to keep them "short 'n' sweet." It's best to write a subject line that falls between 40-70 characters, with an emphasis on the lower end due to many people reading emails on their mobile devices. With this limited real estate, you need to get right to the point in making your recipients feel special.

One way to accomplish this is to add a special offer just for them. While Bob may have not realized he needs a new cybersecurity software, he does now after seeing you have a special offer tailored just for him! It's human nature to want to know "what's in it for us" when we spend our time opening and reading emails. Getting to the core of this desire in a subject line can go a long way in getting a reader to open and convert.

You can also carry this offer into your CTA's scattered throughout your email body. Remind the reader that there's a special offer waiting for them if they just click a link or button. Build anticipation as you talk about your product's benefits or a new service your tech company is launching. The beauty of modern email platforms is that this personalization and anticipation-building can be done rather easily.

You can also make your subject lines timely and action-oriented, just like your CTAs. Add a sense of urgency to your subject line by adding a perceived deadline: "Bob, get 50% off a yearly subscription TODAY only!" Or, add bold verbs at the beginning to make your subject line more vibrant. These small diction changes can make a big difference.

With the number of emails, we get each day, you want your email to stand out amongst all the rest! Make your recipients feel special by targeting their pain points, adding a sense of urgency, and making them feel special. 

Bonus: "View This Email as a Web Page" Is Not Preview Text

One of my biggest pet peeves is going through my inbox, looking at emails, and seeing "View This Email as a Web Page" to the right of a subject line. Why is there no preview text? is a question I'll often ask myself.

Preview text, which is sometimes used interchangeably with preheader text even though they're a little different, is the small line of text you see either beneath or to the right of an email subject line. If a marketer does not add in unique preview text, it defaults, unfortunately, to the first readable line of text in the code, which almost always is "View This Email as a Web Page."

How can we prevent this travesty? Think of preview text as another chance you have to convince someone to open your email. A decent comparison is to liken an email subject line to a webpage's title tag and preview text to a meta description. Your subject line is concise and valuable and your preview text "previews" in more detail what you talked about in your subject line. In short, your preview text should aid in compelling the reader to open your email!

2020 is the year of optimization for many tech marketers. Just as it's important to optimize your email subject lines and CTAs for conversions, it's important to take a look at all aspects of your digital marketing strategy. If you haven't had a chance to read our 2020 State of the Industry Report, you can do so by clicking below.

State of the Industry Report: Download Now