Email, How To, Tutorials

7 Tips for Writing Email Subject Lines


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How many emails have you received today? With over 105 billions emails sent every day, you probably have a few unread emails in your inbox and so do your customers. Compelling email subject lines may be the difference between the emails you read and the ones you move to your trash folder. Subject lines are like first impressions; you want them to be good, memorable, and, in this case, clickable. Increase your email open rates by improving your subject lines. Use these tips to get started.

1. Keep It Simple

Save the lengthy content for the email itself and keep your subject line short. Short subject lines that accurately describe your emails’ content will generate more engagement. As you draft your subject lines, keep them under 50 characters. Subject lines over 50 characters tend to see fewer opens.

If you’re up to the challenge, you could even try a single-word subject lines. The succinct email subject may pique your recipients’ interest and get them to open it. For example, the subject line of an email from JetBlue Vacations:

  • 200.

The simple “200” will grab your attention as you scan through your inbox. It’ll also make you curious about the possibility of a two hundred dollar vacation.

2. Make It Memorable

Grab your recipients’ attention with a controversial statement or unconventional opinion like this one:

  • Your website sucks, but not for the reason you think.

Now, you need to know why your website sucks! You can also try pop culture references or song lyrics, as long as your audience understand them. Jokes and puns also make effective email subject lines. Here’s a fun subject line from the Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy email newsletter:

  • Leaf it to us | November Parks News

Apply alliteration as another awesome attention-attracting approach. Alliteration will help your email subject lines sound more lyrical and catchy. Try it out to see if you can increase your open rate.

3. Incorporate Numbers and Lists

As you may have noticed with the ample amounts of listed content online (including this one), numbers and lists attract clicks. Numbers grab the attention of readers. People like that lists are easy and quick to read. Despite the allure of simple organization, lists will also inspire curiosity in your recipients. What will number 7 be? Does this list align with my own ideas of how to write a good email subject line? You have to keep reading to find out!

4. Make It Personal

Knowing your audience is an essential aspect of any marketing campaign. With email, you can use your knowledge to increase open rates. With the right information, you can create subject lines related to your recipients location, hobbies, or their past purchases.

Amazon does a great job of recommending products complementary to your last purchase. For example, after a user purchased Leviathan Wakes by James S. A. Corey, Amazon followed up with the subject line: “Amazon’s editors suggest the best new science fiction and fantasy books.” They know the recipient is interested in science fiction because of the last purchase so recommending more science fiction is a safe bet.

5. Add Punctuation

If you received an email from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh with this subject line:

  • Because of you…

You’d probably click on it too. Exclamation marks, question marks, ellipses, and other punctuation draw the eyes of your recipient. This example is also effective because it leaves you wondering what you did to deserve an email from the library.

Asking questions is also a good way to engage your recipients. They will form an answer to the question upon reading it, which means you’ve already inspired engagement. Here’s another example from the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh:

  • What will you explore today?

While experimenting with punctuation can be effective, you should avoid using all caps. When your entire subject line is written in capital letters, it’s intimidating and difficult to read. Use capitals sparingly. One or two words is okay, but you don’t want to overdo it.

6. Use FOMO

Use the “fear of missing out” (FOMO) concept to your advantage. Let them know if they’re running out of time on a sale in the subject line like this one from REI:

  • Hurry, Sale Ends Soon

It’s a simple, but effective reminder that they have a limited time to save money at REI. You can take advantage of FOMO by inspiring a sense of urgency with limited time offers or limited availability to attend an event. No one wants to miss out on a sale or lose an opportunity to save money. Help your subscribers avoid FOMO with effective email subject lines and valuable email content.

7. Add a CTA

Use a simple call-to-action in your subject line to engage and inspire your recipient to act. Here’s an example from Blue Apron:

  • Come back and cook like a Top Chef – here’s $20

It’s a re-engagement email trying to get you back to their website. “Come back” is a great CTA and it even offers an incentive of $20 to inspire action.

As you prepare your subject lines, you should draft several options before deciding on the most compelling one. Testing a few different subject lines is also a good way to see which strategy speaks to your subscribers. You might find that using emojis in your subjects is more effective for your target audience. Or maybe you’ll find that using the first names or your subscribers helps to increase email opens.

No matter what strategy you use to write email subject lines, don’t forget to edit the email preview with your own copy. Writing your own text preview for your emails looks better than having the default copy, which is usually something like “view email in web browser.”

With segmented subscriber lists and these tips, you shouldn’t have too much trouble writing compelling subject lines for highly valuable email content. Keep your content relevant to your audience and your subscribers will learn to trust you.

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