A couple of months ago, I had the idea to play around with the subject line of my email list opt-in confirmation email.
A couple of definitions may be in order here.
Email List: A list or database of email addresses that someone like me, or a big company, or anyone for that matter uses to send email to a group of people. If you’re not on mine, then take a minute to sign up. You can sign up using the form at the bottom of this post, or the vertical form at the top of the right-hand column, or the pseudo popup that is shown if this is your first visit in a while (sign up and it won’t pop up for a long time!).
Double Opt-In: Instead of just placing you on my list as soon as you sign up, a double opt-in requires the person signing up to confirm that they want to be on the list. This is usually done by clicking a link in an email or entering a code of some type that is send in an email. One of the advantages of a double opt-in scenario is it cuts out the email addresses that are added by those spam leaving robots that fill up blog comments and any other form they run across with crap.
Rate or Conversion Rate: In this case, the measure of the number of people actually confirming their email address by clicking the link in the confirmation email. If we’re talking about a web page selling a product, the conversion rate is the measure of the number of people visiting the web page vs. actually buying the product.
You might wonder why anyone would go to the trouble of entering their name and email address if they don’t follow up and confirm. Who knows all the reasons; people do all kinds of strange things! Some reasons that I do know are that a lot of email is trapped by spam filters. If you use Microsoft Outlook, it also has a junk filter, so even if a person’s email provider does not flag your confirmation email as spam, Outlook may. So one reason is that person never sees the confirmation email and forgets that they even filled out the form and should be getting it. Another reason is that if the email gets through to them, they may not remember filling it out or recognize where it came from.
Every couple of months or so, I make a point to email another confirmation request to the unconfirmed addresses in my list. Usually I only get 1 or 2 (if any) new confirmations from my effort. I include the date they signed up to the list and ask them to confirm by clicking a link in the email. However, a couple of months ago, I decided to try a different subject line. I was shocked to start getting a steady trickle of confirmations that lasted for a few days!
My old subject line was something like: “Please confirm you subscription to www.pqInternet.com”.
My new subject line is: “Activation Required…”.
That’s it, “Activation Required…”.
Update 11/2017: it’s currently “pqInternet Activation Required – Please Confirm…”
Now before you rush and change YOUR opt-in subject line, you may want to read why it made a difference and tweak yours a little differently.
The 4 Tweaks / Reasons:
- Length: It’s shorter. Longer subject lines create more opportunities to trip spam filters, AND in many cases short subject lines actually grab the eye and attention better when they are in an inbox full of longer subject lines. This is not a hard/fast rule, but testing confirms that shorter is often better. (At least when well written.)
- Better Words: The word “Activation” is a very ACTIVE word (pun intended.) It is psychologically far more powerful than “confirm” or “confirmation”. And “Required” implies that the action is mandatory. It has tested well in both subject lines AND headlines.
- Its a small detail, but the ellipse (…) at the end is probably also helping. Subject line testing on ellipse show higher open rates most of the times they are used.
- Curiosity. “Activation Required…” doesn’t tell them WHAT is required to be activated. So it is probably getting you a higher open rate, due to the curiosity it produces. They have to open the email to see WHAT they are required to “Activate”. And their fear of missing out on something by NOT activating this unknown thing compels them to open and read it.
A few tests trying different subject lines for your emails may show you that something else works better for you and your environment. Only testing will reveal the best subject line for you, don’t just take my subject line and use it without testing some of your own against it. If you find one that works better, return the favor and let me know!
To learn more about this, read my Insiders Guide to Promoting Your Business Online.
Until next time,