Everyone who knows me, knows that I am always preaching the importance of testing when it comes to email marketing.
Test to see how your email displays on different clients…. test different subject lines…. test different sending times…. test different calls to action…. TEST, TEST, TEST!

Whenever we release a new email marketing template for our customers, we spend days checking and re-checking the design on almost 70 different email clients. It’s not a fun process (as my designers will tell you), but it’s a vital one nonetheless.

Yesterday I saw a really great and funny example of a campaign that probably could have used a bit more email client testing. I obviously subscribe to a ton of email newsletters and have seen all sorts of funny things over the years, but this one easily jumps to the top. And, since I always talk about content & context, in the context of yesterday being Valentine’s Day, this might be even more funny.

Before you check out the image below, I do want to say that I am a huge fan of Search Engine Watch. I have been a subscriber and loyal user of their site for more years then I can remember. They produce excellent content and are always very reliable. They are true leaders in their field and I have the utmost respect for them and all their contributors. Anyway, moving along….

When their daily newsletter landed in my inbox on my iPhone 4S, this was the subject line I saw:

Email Subject Line Length on iPhone 4S - Search Engine Watch (Feb. 14, 2013)

Unless the search engine optimization world has changed a lot and Search Engine Watch is promoting some sort of new link building tactic, I think this was just an honest mistake… LOL!

The actual subject line is “A Guide to Getting Started With Analytics” and on desktop clients, such as Gmail shown below, this displayed correctly.

Sesrch Engine Watch (Feb. 14, 2013) - Gmail

These days it is hard to test your subject line across every desktop, web-based, and mobile client since there are so many. But, without testing you certainly run the risk of having display issues like this. Ultimately, I suspect the guys at Search Engine Watch would have a laugh about this, but for many other organizations this would be far from a laughing matter.

The general “best practices” rule that we tell our customers is for a subject line to be less than 50 characters. That being said, the iPhone in portrait orientation only displays about 40 characters so if you have anything longer than that, it might be truncated. Certainly there are some situations that call for longer subject lines with more details and there are others that can call for shorter subject lines. The key is really to come up with something that will entice the reader to open your message. But, if you’re one of the people writing a longer subject line, be careful of where it might get cut off so you don’t make the same mistake as Search Engine Watch.

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