Do you find it difficult to write great email subject lines?

Although there are a number of subject line formulas that can help, it can be hard to know if what you’re writing is really resonating with your audience and compelling them to open your emails.

That’s why when we learnt that headlines with a high Emotional Marketing Value (EMV) increased conversions, we wanted to dissect the process and share it with you.

So in this post, we’ll show you how to use the EMV Index to improve your email subject lines and increase your open rates.

What is the EMV Index?

Back in the 60s and 70s, government research scholar Dr. Hakim Chishti was studying the roots of several languages including Persian, Aramaic, Hebrew, Arabic, and Urdu.

In his research, he found that there are basic underlying harmonics in language that are always interpreted with the same “emotional” reactions. While the meaning of a set of words can be mistaken, the sound tones made when those words are said in a sentence are always interpreted the same way in our emotional response.

From these findings, the EMV Index was born. It is essentially an algorithm that assesses how a group of words follows these emotional harmonics, and how likely they are to elicit an emotional response from a reader.

So in the context of email marketing, it can be used to assess how much of an emotional response a particular set of words (like a subject line) will generate.

A perfect EMV Index score would be 100%, but that is rare unless your subject line is quite short. A good score would rank anywhere from 40% to 75%.

How to use the EMV Index to write better email subject lines

Now that you understand what the EMV Index is, it’s time to put it to work writing better email subject lines.

By following these steps, you can compose email subject lines with high EMV scores that lead to more opens (and more conversions.)

Step 1: Write 25 potential subject lines for your email campaign

Viral website Upworthy has a policy where their writers have to write 25 potential headlines for every post they publish.

Whilst it may seem like a lot of effort, it forces you to think outside the box. When Garrett Moon of CoSchedule started to apply this to his own headline-writing efforts, he found that the headlines he wrote got better as he went on. The first 10 or so were easy to come up with, but were pretty basic and obvious. After that, he had to start getting creative in order to come up with the next 15, and as a result he found that the final headlines he wrote were often the winners.

So step 1 is to spend some time writing a number of different subject lines for your email campaign, as it’s likely your best one will take some time to come up with. If you need help, check out this list of power words in email subject lines.

Step 2: Run them through the Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer

The Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer is a tool from the Advanced Marketing Institute which analyzes headlines and tells you their EMV score.

Used in an email marketing context, you can simply enter your subject lines into the tool and it will return to you a score between 0 and 100 based on the emotional marketing value of the subject line you created.

To use this to write better subject lines, take the 25 different subject lines you wrote in Step 1 and run them through the tool, making sure you keep track of the score of each subject line.

Step 3: Use the two highest scoring subject lines in an A/B test

When you’re setting up your email campaign in your chosen email marketing software, set it up as a subject line A/B test and enter the highest-scoring subject lines from your original list of 25.

If you’re a Campaign Monitor customer, the tool will then send a version of your campaign with each subject line to a small portion of your list, then based on which email gets the most opens or clicks it will automatically send the winning subject line to the rest of your list.

Finally, you’ll get a report that showed you which one is the winner, and how many extra opens and clicks you got by running the A/B test.

In conclusion

Better subject lines means more opens of your email campaigns, and more opens leads to more click-throughs, more conversions and more revenue for your business.

So for your next newsletter or announcement email, try writing a number of different subject lines for your email campaign and use the EMV Index to decide which one’s to A/B test. You’ll end up writing more emotional subject lines that appeal to your target audience and get your emails opened.

Your turn: Have you used the EMV index to write better, more emotionally appealing subject lines before? If not, give it a go for your next campaign and let us know what you think!

Want to improve your email marketing?

Join over 20,000 other marketers & designers who get tips on improving their email marketing delivered directly to their inbox.

  • Sean

    Any program that analyzes subject lines should be cautioned.

    I attended ExactTarget’s Connections 2013 Conference. At the conference, we were shown multiple subject lines and how each subject line performed in a subject line analyzer.

    Many times the analyzer returned a subject line that had the worse open rates.

    I caution using a program to analyze subject lines.

  • Jaina

    It’s interesting to see how subject lines “perform” in analysers, but I think when it comes down to it, it’s more how the subject line performs for your customers, and that you can only know with rigorous and frequent testing. As long as you don’t live or die by the numbers given to you by an analyser, merely use it as a guide, they’re a good idea.

    Really like the idea of writing down a bunch of subject lines – it’s something I try and do. Usually end up getting to five and can’t think of anymore! Find getting a subject line down even helps me with the design of an email as it gives me more of an objective and purpose for the email.

  • Sam Sexton

    I think Sean and Jaina are perhaps missing the point here. The Analyser, and this post in general are there to help you ask the question “is EMV valuable to your customers?”. Thats a clear hypothesis. Generic subject line testers are different in that theyaren’t based on any specific hypothesis so they fail at providing any insight.

Want to improve your email marketing? Subscribe to get tips on improving your email marketing delivered to your inbox.
X

Join 200,000 companies around the world that use Campaign Monitor to run email marketing campaigns that deliver results for their business.

Get started for free