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Should You Give Your Readers a “Choice” in the Subject Line?

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Great email subject lines share a lot of traits; being short, to the point, and having an engaging hook all fit into the standard definition of winning offerings on this front. However, there’s a growing notion in the email marketing community that another attribute – the concept of giving your readers a “choice” in the subject line – also deserves to have a spot in this conversation. To see if there’s any merit to this rising claim, let’s break down the choice approach from a variety of angles and find out once and for all if it really is time to put this decision into the hands of your inbox audience.

The Basics of This Subject Line Theory

According to Laurie Sullivan of Media Post’s Email Marketing Daily blog, giving your audience a choice in the subject line is all about making these individuals feel empowered or in control. Instead of speaking at these readers, your brand transitions into a passive role and places the ability or need to act onto the shoulders of the person on the other side of the screen.

Specifically, utilizing the words “choose” and “choice” in your subject lines kicks this method into high gear when you sit down and develop your inbox content strategy. The big key here is that you leave the subject line open-ended enough for your audience to understand that their actions in response to this outreach truly can affect the outcome of whatever sale, event, or promotion serves as the backdrop for these emails.

The approach of books found within the “choose your own adventure” genre stand out as a great parallel to this subject line method. For every action enacted by the reader – from simply clicking through your call-to-action (CTA) button and ending up on a landing page to choosing between multiple products – a meaningful response from your brand awaits.

Does It Really Work?

On paper, this tactic sounds novel and engaging; but does it really have any tangible benefits over traditional subject line writing practices? As Experian’s Shelley Kessler explains via research conducted by this organization, the answer is an emphatic, “Yes!”

By giving customers a choice in the subject line, your email marketing campaigns can experience a healthy boost in a variety of different areas. At the top of the list is a whopping 117 percent jump in the transaction to click rate when compared to email marketing benchmarks. Your standard transaction rate can also rise by as much as 42 percent via this method. Finally, participants in this research project noted a surge in revenue by email that topped out at 22 percent.

By this point, it’s safe to say that the facts support incorporating a choice in your future subject lines by at least some degree or measure. Otherwise, you could miss out on the rewards that come with adopting this intriguing trend.

Understanding the Best Ways to Put the Choice in Consumer Hands

Now that you’re on board with give your audience a choice, it’s time to talk about a few quick and simple ways to go about this process. For starters, don’t be afraid to lay out your position in a clear – and potentially even blunt – manner. “Choose Your Next Car Today,” “You Have More Choices This Holiday Season than Ever Before,” and virtually any other way to put the ball in their court when it comes to making a decision works exceedingly well.

Once you’ve honed in on subject line that gets to this point in a hurry, it’s also a good idea to keep the theme of consumer choices and decisions flowing within your actual message content. Laying out options, explaining the pros and cons of each selection, and even recapping the actions of others via testimonials or social proof all fit this expanded approach. Essentially, if you’re able inform and educate your audience as they start to settle in on a decision, then you have more than likely just hit a home run in the inbox.

At the end of the day, building a “choice-laden” email marketing campaign does require an intimate knowledge of what turns your audience on and how best to frame these decisions in a way that boosts your brand’s conversion potential. However, with the research and tactics held within this post guiding the way, there’s no reason why your next email offering can’t give your readers all the tools they need to make a choice that leads to a long and healthy relationship with your organization.

About Victor Green

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