Tuesday, October 11, 2016

subject lines just don't drive opens

by kirk r gray

good subject lines drive good open rates, but have you thought about what other insight you can get about your subscribers from their open - even if they don't click?
i've not blogged in a while but thought i'd share this with my readers. today, i got an email from the gap. i know I haven't opened one of their emails in more than a year. in fact "from:the gap" is a common search command i use in my gmail account when i'm cleaning up my box - i just delete them all. and i've not purchased anything from them since moving to florida almost two years ago.

the subject line was "icon status achieved". you guessed it, i opened it. i opened it because i thought, "oh no someone is using my email for purchases there so that they can get deals at the register and not the spam". the email was a normal sale email, nothing about my status with the gap.

now, while I will agree that this is "clickbatish"...i will also concede it's brilliant. here's why: the subject line did what it was supposed to do - drive opens.

so what?, you're probably asking, we all know that opens are driven by good subject lines. but this one subject line probably did more than just getting me to open it.
  1. up until that open i was unengaged subscriber. i was in that segment we all have and struggle with to reactivate - "subscribers who haven't opened or clicked in today-365 days'". i'm now out of that segment. i'm a re-engaged customer. i know the brand, i've purchased before, and i could be a brand/campaign advocate given the right conditions. now the gap just needs to find the right offer or product mix to get me to put something into my cart and check out. this shouldn't be too difficult for them given past-purchase data or by thinking about this open.
  2. in regards to this open in particular, and this part is part is just theory and why i find this subject line brilliant, but if the gap is exploring offering a loyalty program, they learned a lot about me from that open:
    • i probably became an unengaged customer because another retailer got my clothing budget because they offer a loyalty program
    • offering a loyalty buying program could be the right offer/product to drive a sale or store visit
    • and that the status of "icon" is more intriguing than "silver" or "gold". as a consumer, i could assume that based on what i have purchased from the gap and the resulting possible outfit options could imply that they view me as a fashion icon..and that compliment will continue to drive my fashion choices with gap branded clothing.
to conclude, while we all know that good subject lines drive good open rates, the back end data analysis that you can do and test from them can yield interesting customer insight and drive product decisions.