The Most Important Aspects of Your Email’s Flight

There’s a disproportionate amount of importance on about 5% of an airplane pilot’s job during a typical flight. For uneventful flights, the pilot spends 95% of the time in the relatively unchallenging activity of keeping the plane in the air. The other 5% of the time is spent during the takeoff and landing. But who wouldn’t argue that this 5% is significantly more important than the other 95%?

Sitting in an airport now, I’m reminded of email’s most important aspects—the subject line (takeoff) and the landing page (aptly named!). Unfortunately, many marketers neglect these elements, spending just a few minutes before hitting SEND to write a quick subject line and doing nothing to customize the landing page.

Unlike airplane flights, email takeoffs and landings should be much more than 5% of the time for each campaign. We regularly see subject line testing revealing a 5% to 30% difference in open rates and response. With that sort of value on the table, there is absolutely no excuse not to take advantage of it, even if you just split the mailing of your house file. For acquisition email, test two subject lines to a portion of the file, then optimize the winner to the rest in order to earn the benefit.

Landing pages can make or break your conversion. In a recent acquisition campaign, the offer focused on a very specific promotion—get the Sunday paper for just $1. The design and copy was very explicit and clear around this offer, but the landing page didn’t mention the $1 offer at all. It said, “Enter your ZIP code to find the best subscription deal in your area.” Huh? Where’s my $1 offer? Not surprisingly, 80% of the visitors to this page abandoned.

With the same offer, some simple changes to the landing page to make it match the offer resulted in a 400% improvement in the conversion rate. That’s an investment I’d make every day!

—Stephanie Miller