We’re just about a week from December, what some would consider the official start of the holiday season. You’ve likely received a few promotional emails in your inbox already: gift guides, holiday style ideas, recipes for dinner parties…I’ve gotten them too. For email marketers, the pressure is on to come up with witty, clickable subject lines. There’s so much focus on monitoring what your competitors are saying, plus topping the subject lines that have driven high open rates in the past. At a certain point, it’s time to look beyond the subject line and focus on what’s within. Instead, let your inner email beauty — your content — shine. Here are three reasons why:

Play the long game

While it’s true that the subject line is your customer’s first point of contact with your email and what will ultimately drive them to open it, the content is what makes a lasting impression. Focus on consistently delivering highly relevant, interesting content to your subscribers and you’ll build up your reputation and earn their trust. Subscribers will then be more likely to open your emails regardless of its subject line. Having a catchy subject line is simply the “cherry on top.” They’ll be looking forward to what they can take away from what’s within.

Fit for all screens

No matter how hard you try (unless you keep it to two or three words), your subject lines will likely be cut off by the preview in different browsers or devices. There’s more space to work within the email body. The content inside the email is arguably more responsive than the subject line.
To make the most of the responsiveness of the “inner content,” use ALT text and be mindful of the fold. ALT text is a kind of html safety net for your email images: if by chance a certain browser or email client cannot display an image, the ALT text will show in place of it, with a short caption.
The fold is where the preview of the content ends and you need to scroll down to read more. While the above-the-fold area of the email body provides much more space than a subject line does, be sure the content here is enticing enough to make readers continue to scroll.

The real money driver

Ultimately, your goal is to drive your emails onto your website or to interact with your product in some way. Compelling content is is your email call-to-action, which will directly drive customers to another platform where you can continue to interact with them. It’s the real revenue driver.
As Plated’s Emily Grant brought up recently during our Hacking The Inbox panel, marketers should be mindful of tracking click-to-open-rates (CTOR) in addition to the open-rate, their more popular counterpart. CTOR will measure the number of subscribers that opened and how many clicked. While it varies depending on the type of business and/or campaign, a general rule of thumb is that 20-30% is a good CTOR for promotional campaigns and 30%-40% or higher for triggered campaigns.
Now, get back to working on your campaigns and hopefully you’ll remember to stop “judging an email by its cover.” It’s the inner content that counts.