May 23, 2002, 12:00 AM

The Object of Subject Lines

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- Personalize. Personalization is easy to do with e-mail. In fact, it’s easier to do with e-mail than with print. But be sure you’re actually personalizing, which means an e-mail to someone should be from someone, not from info@smithcorp.com. Similarly, if the recipient’s e-mail address is info@smithcorp.com, the subject line should not read This is for you, info.

-Be specific. Space in the subject line is limited, but that’s no excuse for making a generalized pitch. If the length of a subject line isn’t enough for you to be specific, maybe you haven’t defined your offer sharply enough.

-Looksharp. Don’t make your message look like a pitch by adding code numbers at the end of the subject line. And don’t use initial caps on all words, because that says: This is advertising.

-Make a promise. This is one rule you might not always be able to implement, but if you can, response will go up.

I suppose a fifth rule might apply: Don’t lie. But if you don’t like that rule, chances are you’d be out of business and wouldn’t be reading these words.

 

Herschell Gordon Lewis is the principal of Lewis Enterprises in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., writing copy for and consulting with clients worldwide. His 26th book, Effective E-Mail Marketing, was recently published by Amacom Books. He can be reached at hgl@herschellgordonlewis.com.

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