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Creating Subject Lines that work for Mobile Survey Invites

The email invitation you send for a mobile survey can be just as important as the survey itself. After all, if you don’t put the effort into a compelling introduction for your questionnaire, the chances of respondents opening and answering the invite will be pretty slim.

As it makes the first impression on recipients, the email subject line is of paramount importance. Crafting an effective subject line can be tricky as it is, but extra considerations need to be taken into account when you have mobile respondents in mind.

In this edition of Mobile Matters, we discuss how an increasing number of people are opening emails on their mobile first, and the implications this has on your email survey invitations, particularly the subject line.

Email is going mobile

With the continued rise in the use of mobile devices, people are increasingly browsing the web when on the move and this certainly includes the reading of emails. In January 2015 Litmus reported that 53% of emails are being opened on mobile devices.

As the uptake of mobile devices is rising at an exponential pace, this figure is only set to grow. In fact, Litmus says that in 2011 email opens on mobile phones were just 8%.

Such is the prevalence of mobile email that, perhaps ironically, people appear to be using these devices more for reading mail than for their original purpose. Nearly eight out of 10 people in Adobe’s Digital Publishing Report: Retail Apps & Buying Habits study said a greater portion of people use their smartphone for checking email than use it to make calls.

With an increasing number of emails being read first on mobile devices, it’s important your messages – and their subject lines – are tailored for mobile screens. So what is the number one rule you must stick to when writing email survey invitations?

Short and simple is the way to go

It’s not just your survey itself that has to be as short and succinct as possible. Physical screen limitations mean that to be optimised for mobile, your email subject line needs to be kept to the bare essentials too.

Experts vary slightly in their opinions of what the best length is for an email subject line, but the general consensus is that you should stick to about 40 characters – and no more than 50. That should give you enough room to fit in enticing, compelling content while ensuring the entire line can be viewed on the screen.

Of course, how much freedom you have can vary among different email clients. For example, Outlook has a mobile subject line limit of 42 characters, while others such as Gmail offer much more space (74 characters).

Additionally, limits can also differ among devices. Email subject lines cut off on iPhones after 35 characters (portrait) and 80 (landscape), while for Android, the respective limits are 33 and 72 characters.

With such variances present, it’s best to play it safe and keep subject lines to as few characters as possible, whilst still conveying a compelling message of course!

So how many words does this translate to? Kipp Bodnar, vice president of marketing at HubSpot, says that mobile phones in reality show only about 25 to 30 characters in the subject line – and therefore should be restricted to between six and eight words.

And what should those six to eight words be? Calls to action often work well and/or making sure that your subject lines are topical and will resonate as something of interest to the person you are inviting to participate. Here’s a few examples of the words and phrases I like to use in my mobile survey subject lines: get involved, your expert opinion, have your say, your voice, be the first, now’s your chance, thank you and request for expertise. Of course the exact wording that you use will have a lot to do with your own personal style and that of your organisation.

The importance of email preview text

It’s also crucial not to forget about the email preview or snippet text too.  Many experienced marketers treat this as their opportunity for a second subject line.  The native iPhone email app, for example, displays around 80 characters of snippet text, more than twice the number of characters that it displays of a subject line.

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Salesforce.com research in October 2014 found that only 47% of B2C brands were fully optimising their snippet text. So think about the opportunities you have to turn the opening line of your email into something compelling.

By crafting a succinct but compelling subject line and preview text tailored for mobile devices, you can enhance the chances of your email invitations being opened and significantly boost your survey’s response rate.

Happy surveying!

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