Letterman's Late Show Legacy for Email Marketers: The Subject Line

They're your stage entrance, opening monologue and your hook -- make each one a star.

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By Seamas Egan • Apr 9, 2015

Late Show | CBS

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David Letterman announced his retirement after 21 years on the stage of The Late Show, where he created a comedic legacy and, believe it or not, taught a valuable lesson to email marketers everywhere.

The takeaway? Have a killer opening act with a star subject line.

Letterman's opening act has been arguably the most integral part of The Late Show, reeling in the attention of millions of viewers. For email marketers, view a campaign as you would late-night TV -- the subject line is your opening act. It's an opportunity to draw interest from your customers that will stick throughout the entire experience -- from email open to purchase.

To ensure your target audience is hooked from the beginning, it's vital to invest the appropriate time and resources into creating a powerful and compelling subject line. If you don't, your marketing campaign runs the risk of flopping directly into the spam folder.

In an effort to help increase overall engagement, boost ROI and build a loyal audience, here are three tips to channel your inner Letterman and set the stage for your email campaign with attention-grabbing subject lines:

Related: Stop Using These Words In Your Emails

1. Don't wait! Read me now!

Customers get a massive amount of email every day, so you want your subject line to really pop and entice them to open your message.

Be sure to instill a sense of urgency into your subject line with limited-time offers and personalized promotions that will grab their attention. Stating up front that the offer will last only a limited amount of time can increase the likelihood of open rates, click-throughs and purchases. Moreover, making the subject line personalized, relevant and urgent will separate your email from the rest that use generic, spam-like messages.

People want to interact with people -- not feel like they're just another check mark on a long outreach list.

2. Take advantage of trending topics

Don't hesitate to insert your brand into trending topics.

If you hold back on leveraging topics that the world already has top-of-mind, you could miss out on an incredibly effective campaign. Whether it's that famous black and blue -- or white and gold -- dress, the latest celebrity buzz or the newest House of Cards season, try to incorporate current events and pop culture-driven news to get your customer's attention and increase click-through rates. Provide a fun and topical opener that will entice readers to find out more about your offer.

Related: 6 Ways to Market Your Small Business for Less Than $100

3. Test the waters

Are your contacts on the Taylor Swift or the Kanye side of the pop culture battle? Or do they not care one single bit?

Don't just guess -- test to find out. Use A/B split testing to try at least three different subject lines with a subset of your target list so you can identify the most effective ones for your customers. Making data-driven decisions when it comes to the subject line for your next email campaign can have huge payoffs. Want proof? Campaigner found that marketers who use the winning subject line from an A/B test see, at minimum, a four percent increase in open rates. So don't just guess and miss out -- test, test, test!

If you'd like to see these tips in action, here are some top subject lines that are guaranteed to grab customer attention:

  1. Kimye Promotion: 50% Off For North and West Coast
  2. Embrace Your Selfie Spirit - 25% All Photo Orders
  3. House of Cards Fans, You're Welcome. Season 3 Discount With Promo: HOC30
  4. This Offer Won't Last Forever (No, We're Not Talking about T-Swift's Love Life)
  5. Did You See Black and Blue? Then This Email Is For You.
  6. This Offer is More Surprising Than Kim K's New Hair!
  7. The Bachelor Special Promotion: Buy One Bouquet and Get The Final Rose Free
  8. Open This Email. It's Really, Really Ridiculously Good Looking.
  9. Best Deal Ever: $17K Watch. HA! Just Kidding! We Aren't Apple.
  10. This Email is Not From a Personal Account and Has Been Hilary Approved

For more than two decades, Letterman has been in the spotlight winning over a variety of audiences, and it pays to take a page from his script. Even though his time at The Late Show is coming to an end, his legacy will surely remain.

As a marketer, your email campaigns should aim to do the same, creating a lasting impact on your recipients. Subject lines are your stage entrance, opening monologue and your hook -- make each one a star to drive your email marketing success.

Related: 8 Ways to Stop Boring Your Email Subscribers

Seamas Egan

Associate Director of Revenue Operations for Campaigner

Seamas Egan is associate director of revenue operations for Campaigner email marketing. His experience in strategic development across multiple channels has resulted in working with small-business owners to global enterprises. Egan is particularly versed in digital media and email marketing.

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