Karen Talvera

Karen Talavera is the founder of Synchronicity Marketing.

Karen Talavera

Karen Talavera

Karen Talavera is President of Synchronicity Marketing, provider of email performance improvement strategy, coaching, consulting and training. She shares approaches and tactics for successful email and digital marketing on the company’s Enlightened Emarketing blog. You can also follow Karen on Twitter (@SyncMarketing) or Facebook for daily tips and links to emerging email and social media marketing trends, facts and research.


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One of the best ways to engage email subscribers is to connect with them emotionally, although this is often easier said than done. I have spoken and written many times about the importance of creating emotional resonance – either positive or negative – between your message and your audience. It is essential because without some sort of feeling connection to you, at least occasionally, subscribers will become bored by the purely practical (i.e. 20% savings this week!), often repetitive litany of subject lines showing up in their inboxes and easily tune out. It’s fine to engage them intellectually, but if you want your email to create a lasting impact, it needs to pack an emotional punch too.

The subject line is an obvious, immediate and powerful way for email to connect emotionally with subscribers – but how many of us routinely think about writing subject lines from an emotional vs. informative frame of mind? While not all need to be emotional stunners, I thought it would be fun to comb through my email swipe file to showcase examples of subject lines that evoke, provoke, and otherwise succeed in causing a visceral emotional reaction.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at ten email subject lines that pack an emotional punch and explore why.

1. Carnival Cruise Lines

Subject Line: Deleting this email is like deleting $200

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Tagged in: Subject Lines

If you take them aside in confidence and buy them a drink or two, most people working in email marketing will eventually admit there’s a hungry beast they have to deal with that is never full and always has an appetite for more. No matter how much or how often they feed it, it’s a bottomless pit.

What is this monster? It’s none other than your email list! Actually, if you’re treating it right, it’s more like an elite athlete than a monster. Chances are, no matter how many subscribers you already have, you hunger for more. The simple truth: the care and feeding of your email list is a job that’s never done (and shouldn’t be).

The constant need to acquire new email list members is fueled by a few unchanging facts: Brands continually seek greater market share, which means increasing visibility and interest among non-list members in order to bring them into the fold and once we do – turning them into customers. Not only do we want to grow the number of prospects we can communicate with through email, but many companies are also challenged by having subpar percentages of customer email addresses on their files, so seek better coverage of customer opt-ins to email. Couple those realities with the inevitable churn most email lists see annually due to unsubscribes, aging data and deliverability issues (30% turn-over is not uncommon) and it’s no wonder we can’t satisfy the beast!

Email marketing’s early days seem like ancient history now, which presents both new subscriber acquisition challenges and opportunities. Unlike the age of commercial email’s inception, the novelty of receiving savings, coupons, content and other exclusive goodies promised to subscribers wore off years ago. List members expect that at a minimum, and expectations are rising – subscribers now want us to surprise and delight them, anticipate their needs, and enable or remind them to make their interactions with us efficient and convenient.

On the bright side, we have more tools and tactics at our disposal than ever before to invite new subscribers on to our lists. Here are the top-performing new-subscriber acquisition practices that should be in place for your program:

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Tagged in: Email Acquistion

After over a decade in successful use there is abundant proof that email is not only the connective tissue of all data-driven marketing but also the revenue-producing juggernaut of digital efforts. Yet despite claiming the highest ROI of all direct marketing channels at 28.5%1, the highest driver of online conversions2 and the number two spot (second only to search) in new customer acquisition3 email marketing is still too often swept out of sight, called upon only when we need miracles worked. In my nearly 15 years of experience with the channel, I am too frequently surprised and dismayed that email is not receiving nearly the attention and investment it economically deserves.

Like Cinderella in the classic fairy tale, email dutifully goes about its business quietly completing a wide variety of marketing tasks without complaint - from prospect qualification to lead nurturing to direct sales. It also does plenty of less attractive, more menial labor in the transactional messaging realm such as conveying confirmations, notifications, reminders and alerts and just like Cinderella, is frequently under-resourced and kept out of sight until needed. But when it’s needed, batten down the hatches, for email will be heavily (if not impossibly) leaned upon to achieve quarterly or annual revenue goals, save jobs and launch new products. Also like Cinderella, email marketing professionals will be expected to work nearly twenty-four hours a day with barely enough energy to stumble into bed long after midnight only to wake before sunrise to do it all over again.

I recently led a training workshop for mid-sized businesses on integrating inbound marketing channels, a lynchpin of which was email. In showing the many campaign examples I included in my teaching materials, I was surprised at the reaction from some of my audience members. “But so-and-so is a well-known company/brand with an army of marketing staff,” said one. “They’re a big retailer with far more people to do email than we,” moaned another. What most marketing professionals don’t realize is that even large, glitzy retail brands that pump out the highest volume and most visible of email marketing campaigns are often thinly staffed when it comes to the professionals in the trenches. True, their budgets for email software and tech services might be heftier, but their staff responsible for executing email campaigns and triggered messaging is often less than five people. 

To their credit, retailers have always been among the earliest adopters of the channel largely due to their ecommerce nature, so investing in the marketing and automation needed for high volume messaging isn’t news to them – they know well the (usually) linear connections between email message frequency/volume/segmentation and revenue. However, even they are found lacking when it comes to investing on the professional side, whether from budgeting for adequate staff, to email marketing strategic direction and support from agencies and consultants, to employee mindset and skillset training and professional development.

Loren McDonald, VP Industry Relations of Silverpop, recently agreed in a comment on an Only Influencers discussion, "While under attributing revenue from email is likely a problem at many/most companies, it may not be the main reason that email marketing is under-resourced. Email marketing in many companies is actually highly valued as a channel, but it is under-invested in because it is thought of as inexpensive and easy to do. Many companies’ email strategy is ‘batch and blast’-based and is often on auto pilot. Management sees it is working well with existing resources and when we have an underperforming in-store promotion or product SKU, we just ask the email team to ‘send another email’ - and it works. What is needed is analysis and a roadmap that clearly lays out how email marketing supports strategic initiatives and the ROI that will result from increased budgets and resources. "

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I’m often asked what I believe to be the number one way to connect email and social media marketing.  Last month I tackled that question from the starting point of email.  This month I'm addressing it from the perspective of social media.

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Tagged in: Social Media

Karen Talavera runs Synchronicity Marketing, an Emarketing Consultancy. This is her story. If you like her story, share it with your network and help her win a bottle of wine.

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Tagged in: Interviews