Email Nirvana Q&A with Jeanniey Mullen and Loren McDonald


If you attended this week’s Email Nirvana Webinar, you heard eec member Loren McDonald and founder Jeanniey Mullen give quite a presentation. It was so captivating that they almost didn’t have time for questions. But they wanted to make sure everyone’s concerns and questions were heard and so they agreed to answer some of the most frequently asked questions right here on the eec blog! More questions and answers can be reviewed on the Silverpop and OMS blogs as well. We will add the links soon.

Now, on to the questions…

How many words do you recommend for effective subject lines? I would think it would be 7 or less – any suggestions?

This is a great question, and one that can’t really be answered easily. The real answer is, it depends on what the message is that you are trying to convey. Key points to remember when determining subject lines are: 1) Don’t be cute- while you know what is inside the email and why your subject line might be a pun on the contents, no one else has opened it yet. They wont get the joke. The more direct the better.  2) Get to the point. Whether 7 words or 11, covey the main reason why you want people to open your email to avoid disappointment when they actually do. 3) There is no need to put your company name in the SL unless it is not in the from address. They just saw the email was from XYZ. They don’t need to see that in the SL too. Start with these points, and test your way into improvements. Also- check out the eec whitepaper room for more subject line specific research and case studies.

What do you do if your emails are only relevant for a certain amount of time?

I love this question. Actually… emails never die. You might have seen this on TV in Law and Order, or some other crime show. You know, the part where the crime lab takes a computer that was on fire and somehow is able to restore emails? Well, believe it or not, the same is true for marketing emails. We have done studies at the eec where people show they will store an email from a brand that interests them for up to 2 years. The messages specific relevancy by that point has come and gone, but the brand impact is everlasting.  If your emails are only relevant for a short time you have one of two options: 1- add value added help links that make the content evergreen and give someone a reason to save your emails for years, or 2- test swapping out the non-relevant images behind the scenes and create and email that updates it’s own content whenever opened, every so often.

Tips for B2B?

Anything you heard or saw in the webinar is true for B2B as well. B2B readers are also customers dealing with the same overloading email boxes, priority pressures and need to feel special that we all do in our personal lives. Start with a great B2C concept and email the eec for help if you need to/want to adjust for B2B.

What is the importance of the metrics particularly if you are emailing from a non-profit?

Metrics are important for any industry or vertical when it comes to email. They enable to you to, at the very least, set a benchmark for how your effort compare to other entities. One key measurement I enjoy reviewing is the click to open rate (what percentage of people who open your email click on the link). This lets you gauge how well your segmentation and targeting strategy are working. If less than 25% of these who open click, you are not reaching an engaged audience. Every year, the eec gathers a volunteer team of the best minds in email to help a npf improve their email. You can read the case studies right here on the eec site.

Are subscribers likely to fill out a form with all of those questions? How do you entice them to do so without making them skeptical about why you want the information?
This is always a tough question to answer because it is a business decision. Shorter forms get more completes, but lower quality. Longer forms drive more serious traffic. MotleyFool is one company who manages long forms very well. They incent people part way through. Ex Give us your email and name and get our email newsletter. When you do they say “thanks, now give us your mailing address and we will also send you a free whitepaper…. This happens many times until you unknowingly and happily have given every piece of personal information you have in small bits in return for value added products. Definitely worth a test.