The 64-Word Subject Line & Other Email Marketing Don'ts

From Business Owners to Musicmakers, Mind Your Messaging

The first time I got an email from a music industry colleague with 64 words — yes, words — in the subject line, I figured it was an anomaly. The person was surely in a hurry, forwarding another misguided individual's email. Then I received a second one. And this week, another.

Verbosity gets you nowhere. No matter the content, recipients will hit delete almost immediately when a long-winded or overly formatted email hits the inbox. You could have an exclusive interview with Guy Kawasaki, but if the subject line is a paragraph and the body text is set off in 7 different colors, your readers will pretty much lose interest immediately. Point is, it would have to be pretty startling stuff to make me open an email that previews in my pane in a pain-in-the-tuckus kinda way.

Measuring Up: Remember, we're not all reading from desktops. A long subject line will eat up the entire real estate on mobile screens. Instant delete.

Measuring Up: Remember, we're not all reading from desktops. A long subject line will eat up the entire real estate on mobile screens. Instant delete.


For effective email marketing, avoid these common mistakes:

1. Lengthy Subject Lines

64 characters is more like it. Better yet, the industry-standard 52. That's including spaces. I copy and paste my subject lines into a Word doc and go to Tools > Word Count to see how many characters I've got.

Tip: Don't include the date. It's already built into the email header, so it only takes up valuable space.

2. Everything Can't Be Bold

Each detail of your event or topic is not equally important. Formatting tools like bolding, caps and exclamation points are for emphasis — for the non-readers who scan emails before taking action. Use these tools judiciously. Text in all caps not only looks like shouting, but also makes you, and whatever it is you're promoting, lose credibility.

3. Facebook Tagging People You Haven't Met

Call it lazy networking — tagging people in Facebook posts without ever introducing yourself. While social media makes it easy to reach out to many people at once with bare-minimum effort, nothing compares to introducing yourself in a private message or an email first.

Keep in mind that those you're tagging may have their settings configured to notify them whenever they are tagged in posts, perhaps even via email. So if you're posting once or twice a day, it can get time-consuming to check each and every status update you're being included in, not to mention crowd your email inbox. Yes, the tagging feature has morphed beyond its original intention of saying that you're with someone — as in, sharing the same physical space — but not everyone will think that your every update is important enough to be part of their timelines too, especially people you haven't met yet. Practice moderation, and if you really want to make an impression with someone, introduce yourself first.

4. Automatically Opting-in Newsletter Subscribers

Joining people to your newsletter without them opting in is another email marketing don't. I got an e-newsletter from someone I'd met at an event, and it wasn't a case of my requesting upon meeting them to be added to their list. This person had my business card and just joined me; no other contact was initiated. Like the Facebook tagging described above, it's frustrating to get a mass communication without ever having any sort of personal follow-up.

If I like the person's content, I'll follow in some way — maybe on Twitter, maybe bookmark his or her blog, etc. Let people choose to subscribe or follow your content in whichever way works best for them, not forcing your way into their already-crowded inbox. It's better to have fewer subscribers who find your content valuable than to have a ton of subscribers who hit delete each time.

10-Second Takeaway: Play to shortened attention spans. Keep your emails snappy and streamlined, and you'll retain subscribers who really want your content, and perhaps want to share it with others!

Happy connecting,


Talking Social Media Strategy & Crowdfunding with America’s LinkedIn Lady

It was my extreme pleasure to join Carol McManus America's LinkedIn Lady — on "The LinkedIn Lady Show" on Toginet Radio. Talking shop with Carol is one of my favorite things to do, and we covered a lot of ground, including crowdfunding and my latest musical pursuits.

Listen to the podcast on iTunes (choose the 10/19/11 episode) or you can download it directly from my site. Carol began our chat by focusing on my corporate experience, then transitioned to the significance of my domain name, my recent site launch and my songwriting news.

PODCAST HIGHLIGHTS By listening to the podcast interview, you'll get in on:

1) The name Saidandsung and how my songwriting informs my copywriting (8 minutes into the podcast).

2) My involvement with the new musical IT SHOULDA BEEN YOU (10:20 into the podcast), now playing at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick.

3) How Crowdfunding can help you move projects forward (18:36 into the podcast) and why I chose

4) How I used Social Media for My RocketHub Campaign and how I use it for my business (32 minutes into the podcast).

5) The #1 tip I learned from @BloggingMentor Annabel Candy to help separate my 2 selves on Twitter (34 minutes into the podcast).

6) A frank discussion on Social Media Strategy — thoughts on automated tools, the future of Facebook and more (45 minutes into the podcast) — with Carol's "Marketing Minute" partner Ken Herron a.k.a. @PurpleComm.

UNDER THE (POSITIVE) INFLUENCE At one point in the podcast, Carol asked me about my business influencers, and I gave her a handful:

+ Annabel Candy of @GetInTheHotSpot a.k.a. @BloggingMentor (34 minutes into the podcast): I learned such great Twitter tips and blog tips from Annabel and her "Successful Blogging in 12 Simple Steps" book!

+ @RobinDickinson (39:52 into the podcast): Robin was the first source I turned to for lessons on how to tweet. His Success with Twitter video was terrific for learning nomenclature, strategy, etc. He continues to inspire through his Facebook page.

+ @JasonWomack and @DyanaValentine (40:45 into the podcast): Two superb coaches/professional instigators whose workflow and big-picture ideas (often in the form of fiery I-dare-yous) are all kinds of inspiring.

+ The authors of "The Wealthy Freelancer" — @EdGandia, @petesavage & @steveslaunwhite (41:10 into the podcast): This book not only helped me get to the next level in my freelance career, but it also lead me to form a friendship with freelance illustrator @DonnaBarger, who is also a terrific accountability partner.

+ Jennifer Shaheen of Technology Therapy (48:15 into the podcast): Jennifer's Advanced Facebook for Business webinar is full of tips and long-term strategy ideas.

And, honestly, Carol continues to be one of my biggest influencers. Each week, I learn so many great pointers from her show, especially about LinkedIn and business strategy. You can tune into "The LinkedIn Lady Show" every Wednesday at 5 p.m. EST on, or listen to her half-hour show at 9 a.m. EST Wednesdays on WGCH AM 1490 in Greenwich, Conn.

I've had a lot going on this past month or so, and like I said in a recent blog post, it takes a village. I'm so grateful to be surrounded by inspiring collaborators, colleagues and friends, and look forward to what's to come!



Facebook Therapy: Tech Therapist Offers Smart Tips for Business Owners

Forward Motion was thrilled to welcome to the show Greenwich resident Jennifer Shaheen of The Technology Therapy Group, a full-service Web design and marketing development group.

Jennifer is savvy across all forms of online marketing, but our focus for this show was how businesses can leverage their Facebook presence to gain traction and new customers.

The podcast will soon be available. Please email me to be notified when it's up.

Show Host Carmen Carrozza and I have both taken Technology Therapy's Web classes to get up to speed for our respective businesses, and Jennifer has packed so many tips into our show!

On this 25-minute podcast you'll learn:

+ The Difference Between Your Profile & Your Page

+ How to Keep Up with Privacy Settings (here's a hint)

+ The Rules of Engagement

+ The Specificity of Facebook Ads

+ What Outranks Pages in Searches

+ Posting Strategies for Your Page

+ Facebook Photo-Synthesis

Carmen and I extend our sincere thanks to Jennifer for sharing these tips with our listening audience.

Be sure to follow Jennifer on Twitter as well!