· Branding vs. no branding. Does additional branding make your email stand out in the inbox or does it just take up space? Test the branding at the beginning and end of the subject line. This branding could also include the name of your newsletter.
· Short vs. long. Many people swear by subject lines of less than 40 characters, but Alchemy Worx' "Subject Lines: Length Is Everything" report gives us plenty of reasons to test subject lines of 70+ characters.
· Lifestyle vs. functional messaging. Some people buy a product because of its features or low price; others because they want to be fashionable or a trendsetter.
· Informative vs. engaging. You can tell people what the email is about (which largely entails nouns) or you can engage them with questions and appeals to take action (using action verbs and commands).
· Personalized vs. non-personalized. Do your subscribers respond to their name appearing in the subject lines of your emails? Of the retailers I track, only Northern Tool uses this tactic regularly, but it may work better in other verticals.
· Few vs. many interest triggers. For instance, a recent Barnes & Noble email used the subject line "Oprah's New Pick Just Announced." That's two interest triggers: Oprah plus "new." An alternative subject line could have been "Oprah's New Pick: The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski," which has four potential interest triggers: Oprah, "new," the title and the author's name.
· Capitalization choices. I see some marketers capitalizing articles and conjunctions in their subject lines, which makes them more difficult to scan. Try different capitalization strategies to make your subject lines more scannable and to create emphasis on key words.
· Repeat or tweak successful subject lines from your past campaigns.
· Pay attention to the searches run on your Web site and the organic searches that bring you traffic from major search engines. Consider using words from the most popular searches in your subject lines.
· Mine the subject lines of your closest competitors for ideas for words and phrasings. I list subject lines from retailers on my blog daily; you can also pull from other sources like the Newsletter Archive.
· Take note of headline constructions used by newspapers and magazines, especially in their online editions, which some are now optimizing for search.Has anyone else had a recent contrarian experience with selecting a subject line -- or do you have testing suggestions?