Ask Flodesk: How to Write Subject Lines That Get Opened, Collect Emails Ethically and Legally & More

This month, the co-founders of Flodesk, the email marketing software that helps you create emails people actually want, are answering your most pressing email marketing questions all month long in our Ask An Expert series.

Your Email Marketing Questions Answered

Hey everyone, we’re Martha and Rebecca, the founders of Flodesk, and we’re back at the HoneyBook office to answer all of your questions on email marketing.

Let me read the first question. This is from Elizabeth and she has a social media service business and her question is…

What should I write in my emails and what are great subject lines to get people to open?

Your content eventually impacts open rates once your subscribers are seeing that it’s good quality content, but truly it’s the subject lines that are going to immediately affect those. So I’ll focus on subject lines.

1. Keep it short. You want to aim for under 50 characters to make sure that everything fits on the preview.

2. Capitalize only the first word. That makes it very personal and not super spammy.

3. Use emojis. It catches your attention. Just make sure you don’t overdo it and you don’t use a lot of exclamation points because then it does look spammy.

4. Use words or phrases that create urgency. “Hurry, last chance” or “Open up, something cool is happening inside.”

5. Be careful of the spam filters. So avoid anything that has the word free. Generally these, it depends on the email client, and definitely avoid anything that, even though you’re not intending, could be associated with anything red light district, if you know what I mean, because that just will send it to spam.

6. The last one, and this is my favorite, is use personalization fields. Most email marketing platforms have these. Flodesk definitely has that and you can add fields in your subject lines to add, for example, their first name. You can write an email that says, “Hey Rebecca, I thought you’d really like to see this.” It feels very relevant and very personal and that definitely increases your open rates.

Let’s go through the next question. This is by Amy. She has a creative lifestyle blog and the question is…

Should my email welcome series talk about my business, like blog categories, or should I be trying to sell my products first?

That is a great question, Amy. Generally when you start your email marketing up, you want to ramp up the commitment curve with your customers and your subscribers. You want to start with giving content and adding value and giving them free educational content and getting them excited about what you have to offer. Later down the line you can start making asks, like first maybe “share this again with your following” or “subscribe to something” and then finally making a sale.

If you really want to do the full sequence and do it properly, please join the #UpMyEmailGame challenge because we have 12 beautiful templates that help you go from zero to 60 in basically 12 months with your email list. It’ll take you right through that commitment curve— in three days! So you create 12 months of content in three days.

Let’s go to the next question. This is by another Amy and she’s a photographer. The question is…

How do I collect emails ethically and legally based on the new laws floating around?

When we were working on Flodesk at the beginning, we talked to a ton of lawyers globally. I put all of our learnings into an acronym so we can remember them. It’s ABCDE.

  • A is for acquisition. Make sure that you have a positive opt in. Don’t have a pre-check box. That’s the key.
  • B is for behavior. Do track behaviors like open this email, opt into this form. We do all of that in the system automatically.
  • C is for consent. This means when you have your opt-in form on your website, make sure that it’s clear that they’re subscribing. You could say, “Hey, subscribe to my newsletter.” Or it’s also okay to say, “Get updates.” But the more transparent that you are, the better. It’s just a good ethical practice as well.
  • D is for deletion. Make sure that you have a one-click unsubscribe link. Don’t have them log in, don’t charge them for unsubscribing.
  • E is for encryption. Make sure that the email tool or software that you’re using is encrypting your emails end to end. We do that at Flodesk. I know most email platforms do. And on that note, this is not specific to GDPR, but make sure that you do not ever send sensitive information over email and then you should be good to go.

Next question. This is from Jess P. who has a copywriting and content strategy business. She asked…

With a prettier email comes more images. Does that hurt the email’s ability to get into an inbox as not spam or a promotion?

That is a great question Jess.

There’s been a lot of education floating around out there about needing to use text only or being really light on the images in your email in order for your email to have great deliverability and that’s a little bit outdated. Today’s email clients like Gmail are now not so sensitive to a lot of images inside the email as much as they are to the content of the email, the quality of the email and your sender reputation.

If you have beautiful emails with lots of images in them, that’s totally ok. Just make sure that you verify your DKIM, your domain address so that your deliverability increases.

And on the question on images, if you take a look at the big companies that are crushing the game with email marketing like Airbnb and Urban Outfitters, you’ll see that their emails are actually 100% images. That’s great. It is proven that image-based emails have good deliverability. But we still like adding a lot of text in our Flodesk layouts so that they’re searchable.

The last question is from Nicole A. She has a social media strategy business and her question is…

How do I set up an automation?

This is a great question. It really depends on the platform that you’re using.

On the strategy portion, I really do recommend that you start with a lead magnet, so an opt-in form that provides a freebie, and then you connect that form to an email that gets auto-delivered with your freebie content by hooking up the form and the email via a workflow automation.

We actually go through these specific question and we guide you step-by-step during the challenge. If you haven’t joined the #UpMyEmailGame challenge, then you should definitely join it now. It lets you create a year’s worth of email marketing content in just three days so you can up your email game.

Additional Email Marketing Resources

Want to learn more about email marketing and turning email leads into paying customers? Get our Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing here.

Thanks, Flodesk!

Sobrina Pies

I’m a HoneyBooker—writing about small businesses, the people who run them, and tips and tricks to help them grow—and a lifestyle blogger at Quiet Like Horses, sharing stories, not small talk. HoneyBook helps you manage your business all in one place, from sending proposals, invoices and contracts to managing your projects and getting paid. Want to give it a try? Start a free HoneyBook trial here.  

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