"Hey", "Wow", and Other Brilliant Subject Lines

This week's Social Pros Social Media Stat of the Week is actually an email marketing stat.  I'm an old-school email marketer - as is Jay - so I just can't help myself.

Businessweek.com has a detailed piece about the Obama Campaign's email marketing strategy and operations.  I was astounded by the team's intellectually curious testing and ruthless, data-driven execution.  Some of the highlights:

  • The campaign would test several email drafts and subject lines - often as many as 18 variations - before picking a winner to blast out to tens of millions of subscribers.

  • The subject line  - “I will be outspent" - outperformed 17 other variants and raised $2.6M, according to testing data shared with Bloomberg Businessweek.

  • Several effective strategies were counter-intuitive.  Dropping in mild profanity - such as the subject line “Hell yeah, I like Obamacare” - often drove big results.  Simple, ugly designs - plain text, garish colors - often out-performed perfectly styled emails.  

  • Even in the face of ungodly email volume from the campaign, people didn't unsubscribe.  Best line of the article:  “The data didn’t show any negative consequences to sending more.”

So why are email marketing data points relevant to social media marketers?  In part because you never see articles like this written about social media marketing.

I don't think that it makes sense fo community managers to split test 18 versions of a tweet, but I do think it would be helpful to spend more time reflecting on previous campaigns - successful and less-than-successful - to seek out patterns and datapoints to inform future efforts.

A well-managed email marketing program can be an amazing conversion tool.  A well-managed social marketing program can be an amazing retention and amplification tool.  Both require discipline, data, and craftsmanship.