Email marketing is still one of the best ways to reach customers and convince them to buy from you. However, writing a good marketing email is an art, and it all starts with the subject line. That’s what’s going to tell the customer who you are, what you do, and what you have for them.
In many cases, a lead will decide whether to open your email based on just the subject line alone. As such, it’s essential that you get it right.
Here are ten tips that will help you write the very best subject line, every time.
- 1. Avoid Spammy Email Subject Lines
- 2. Keep The Subject Short And To The Point
- 3. Personalize The Subject Lines
- 4. Tell The Reader What’s Inside
- 5. Make It Feel Exclusive
- 6. Draw The Reader In With A Question
- 7. Don’t Be Afraid To Be Funny
- 8. Take the Listicle Approach
- 9. Try Using A Deadline
- Wrap Up
1. Avoid Spammy Email Subject Lines
Let’s begin first of all with what you should be avoiding in your email subject lines.
Email spam filters are stronger than ever before, so you’ll want to be able to avoid being caught and filtered by them before you can even get your customer to see the email itself. Picking the right language will do a lot to help you avoid this.
For example, email subject lines that use promotional language such as “buy” or “free” are often going to be caught by spam filters. If it does get through, the customer may not open it as they feel that they’re being aggressively sold to. It’s not great, and so that’s something you want to actively avoid. You’ll also want to avoid using excessive exclamation points and question marks, as again that’ll get you flagged by the filters.
How can you get the customer to open the email if you can’t be promotional? You’ll have to find other ways to pique their interest. If you’ve done your research and know what interests them as people, then you should find a way to get them on board.
As an example, Mother Earth Pillows used a subject line which read “Essential Oils… Learn what they do!” It’s not going overboard, and it’s not actively looking to sell in the subject line. Instead, it’s inviting the reader to take a look at their essential oils and see what they can do for them. You can bring the reader in without having to actually sell, sell, sell through the email subject lines.
2. Keep The Subject Short And To The Point
The data above doesn’t lie: shorter subject lines seem to perform better than longer ones.
You’ll be trying to get a lot across in your subject line. You want the lead to know what’s in the email before they open it, so many businesses try to cram in as much info as they can. The problem is, that most email apps will cut those details off if they’re too long. This is especially true if the person is looking at their emails on mobile. In fact, 62% of email opens happen on mobile devices, so you’ll want to keep that in mind.
If that happens, then all your hard work on your email subject line is going to go to waste. As such, you want to keep it short and to the point.
Typically, an email subject line that’s 50 characters or fewer will work best. If you’re finding it hard to do this, look at your subject line and remove anything that isn’t essential. For example, “Your order is on its way!” is better than “Order #468894378 is out for delivery”. It’s a friendlier line too, while still telling the customer what they need to know.
Another tip is to think about your subject lines when you’re sending out regular emails. If you add in the word “newsletter” or “update”, many customers feel they don’t have to open it as they can read the next one. Take these words out and be more specific about what the email contains.
3. Personalize The Subject Lines
Emails with a personalized subject line are 26% more likely to be opened than those with general subject lines.
When writing your emails, you’re likely to personalize them to the person receiving them. It’s a great tactic, as it makes the email more personable, and they’ll be more likely to respond to whatever you’re offering. You should keep doing this in your emails, but try doing it in the subject line too.
As the stat mentioned above indicates, many companies find that when they personalize the email subject line, the customer is far more likely to click through and see what the email is about. All you have to do is add the first name of the customer in to get those results. For example, you can have a subject line that reads “Alison, want 10% off your first meal kit?”
As well as this, you can use the location of the recipient to personalise their emails. For example, you can write “Come try the best wings in Houston today!” This works best for companies that are local to the recipient, and are encouraging them to come visit the physical location.
This is an art, as using personalisation can feel a little creepy when done wrong. If you ensure you’re just adding personalised touches, the customer will feel more like an individual and not just someone being marketed to. If you’re not sure about using names, using words like ‘You’ and ‘Yours’ go a long way to make email subject lines feel personal.
Further Reading: 6 Steps for Targeted Email Marketing That Delivers High ROI
4. Tell The Reader What’s Inside
This feels like such an obvious point to make, but it’s amazing how many times marketing writers just don’t do it. When writing email subject lines, they need to tell the reader just what they’re going to find in that email. After all, if it’s not clear, they’re simply going to ignore or delete it. You don’t want that to happen, so be clear about what they’re going to get.
This is especially true if you’re sending the reader an offer, or a special extra for signing up with you. Rather than just writing “Thanks for joining us”, try “Find your ebook inside!” or “10% off with this email”. It lets the reader know exactly what they’ll get if they sign up with you.
5. Make It Feel Exclusive
The idea of exclusivity is a powerful thing. There’s a reason why so many marketers use it when they’re crafting communications to their customers. You can put it to good use too, when you’re writing emails to them.
You’re looking to create a sense of belonging, and show the customer that they’re getting something special for being on the email list. This helps build loyalty with them, and the more they feel loyal to you, the more likely they are to stick around.
By using the right language, you can create these feelings in your email subject lines. For example, you can write “You’re invited!” or “An exclusive offer for you”. It shows them right away that the offer is just for them, helping them feel special with you. Give this a try, as it’s such a powerful marketing technique.
Further Reading: 7 Things That Speak to the Importance of Email Marketing Today
6. Draw The Reader In With A Question
If you’re sending emails out to your customers, you’ll have done your research on them. You’ll have segmented them out, and have buyer personas for each one. That lets you know what’s going to grab their attention, and what will get them to click though.
Use that information to pose a question to them in the subject line. Ideally, you’re selling them something that will help solve a problem in their life. If you’re asking a question about that, they’re very likely to click through and see what you’re offering.
For example, a simple question could be “Are you making these SEO mistakes?”. This can be sent to business owners, who are looking to improve their SEO and reach out to more leads online. When you do this, they’ll click through to see what the answer is.
Ask the customer a question that you know they want the answer to. Make sure you have the answer in the body of the email, so you can give them what you’re promising in the subject line.
7. Don’t Be Afraid To Be Funny
Just because you’re sending an email with the goal of drawing in new leads, doesn’t mean it has to be dry. You can inject some humor if you so wish, and sometimes it’s actually a bonus. Remember, your customer is going to get a lot of different emails in their inbox, and being funny is a great way to stand out. It also shows personality, something that a lot of customers will appreciate.
Now humor is a tricky thing to get right, so you’ll need to think about how your customers will interpret a joke. For example, if you’re emailing mainly Millennial customers, a subject line like “Defence Against The Dark Arts: ESAPI” will go down well. However, if they weren’t brought up with the Harry Potter books, then they’re not going to get it.
Of course, puns will always work too. For example, JetBlue sent an email to customers with the subject line “Land wander-ful low fares now!” That’s something that most people will get, and it’ll still help the email subject lines stand out.
8. Take the Listicle Approach
There’s a reasons why list articles, or “listicles”, are so popular online. They’re easy to read, and help you take in a lot of information at once. As a reader, they’re just more pleasurable to read. You can take advantage of this in your email subject lines.
Adding numbers into the subject line will attract the attention of your reader. If you’re offering 5 things, they want to see what they are. It creates curiosity, and that’s how you get them to open the email.
For example, you can write email subject lines like “3 ways to improve your content marketing” or “10 things you need to know about getting a driver’s license”. You’ll have seen we’ve done it in this very article. Splitting the information up makes it much easier to scan and read, and those numbered titles will get people to click through.
9. Try Using A Deadline
Deadlines are another great way to get readers to act on your email as soon as possible. Think about all the distractions that your customer is facing as they open their emails. There’s going to be other emails in the inbox that they’ll need to deal with, and there will be other things on their mind too. You need to make your email important, so they take a look at it right away. How can you get them to do that?
That’s where deadlines come in. You have to give them a reason to open the email right now. A deadline creates a sense of urgency, so the reader will act on the email as soon as possible. You’ll see this used most of the time with sales and deals. A limited time sale will get them to open the email and get those deals, before the sale ends. You can also do this with stock, letting them know that an item they’ve looked at before is starting to run out.
You can make those deadlines as long or as short as you want, but typically, the shorter, the better. You can even make that deadline as short as 24 hours. When you do this, you’ll see more people opening those emails.
10. Don’t Forget The Preview Text
As well a good subject line, you’ll need a good preview text to draw the reader in.
What is preview text?
It’s the beginning of your email, and shows up next to the subject line in the customer’s inbox. This lets them see what’s in the email, and lets them decide if they want to open it. If you’re savvy at writing marketing emails, you can use this to get their attention.
If you want to take it one step further, you can actually set the preview text of your email yourself, rather than letting the email client pull from the email itself. You will need to make sure that your email marketing software supports bit, but this allows you to create a more compelling text that encourages the reader to open the email up.
Further Reading: The 19 Best Email Marketing Software Tools to Consider Investing in Today
These are ten top tips for creating email subject lines that grab a customer’s attention, and get them to open the email. A good subject line will go a long way, so try crafting the perfect subject line in your next customer email and compare your results based on these different tips to find the best solution for your specific company and community of email subscribers.
Further Reading: How to Improve Your Email Open Rate
Madeline Miller is a writer with Academized and UK Writings, where she writes about email marketing. She’s also a blogger for Boom Essays.
Hero photo by Justin Morgan on Unsplash