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10 Ways to Improve Your Email Subject Lines

Despite that it is sometimes considered a “dinosaur” of the digital world, email still plays a significant role in your brand’s ability to reach mass numbers of current and potential patrons. While you can send emails to as many people as you would like, the important statistic is how many people are opening them. There’s one thing that weighs more heavily than anything else when it comes to whether or not people are opening your email—and that’s your email subject line. Email subject lines are ultimately your first line of offense when it comes to enticing people to click “open” rather than “delete.”

Anyone who’s ever had an inbox knows that judging messages by email subject lines is common. For many email marketers, this short phrase is unfortunately more of an afterthought—a secondary factor to the contents of the email itself. However, though small in size, email subject lines should be weighed with equal importance as the main body of the email.

Looking to improve your email subject lines? Here are a few tried and true rules that can help you get more eyes on your emails.

  • Keep them short. Not only do people not want to take the time to read a long email subject line, but longer subject lines may also get cut off if they are too lengthy—especially on mobile, which is where the majority of people are opening their emails. If you’re having trouble tailoring your email subject lines, think carefully about what each word is contributing to the message. Get rid of words that do not add any value.
  • Choose action verbs. Related to the above, careful word selection is critical when writing effective email subject lines. You can think of a subject line essentially as a call to action, which benefit with the use of action verbs at the beginning. For example, “Dress to impress with these hot deals,” sounds more enticing than “These hot deals will have you dressing to impress.”
  • Express urgency. In some creative form or fashion, you should convince your email recipients that it would benefit them to open your email sooner rather than later. If the deal you are offering ends soon, let them know. If a person’s subscription is about to expire, express that in the subject line. Urgency equals a higher chance that your email will not only be opened right away, but at all.
  • Don’t be too aggressive. We’ve all seen those subject lines in our emails—the ones in all caps, with multiple exclamation points—maybe even a few question marks thrown in. Stop right there. These types of email subject lines come across as trashy, spammy and overbearing. If there was an equivalent of yelling via type, this would be it, and no one wants to be yelled at.
  • Provide incentive. This may be one of the most obvious starting points for writing an email subject line: tell recipients why they should open it! Are you offering a discount or deal? Better yet—are you giving something away for free? Is there information in this email that they can’t get anywhere else? Your email subject lines should express how exactly opening them will benefit your recipients.
  • Make them curious. While you should incentivize people to open your emails with the promise of something good inside, you should not let the entire cat out of the bag right off the bat. You want people to have to open your emails for them to see what exactly the big deal is all about. If they can tell everything from the subject line, then they may or may not take the next step in opening the email itself. Think of your email subject lines as “teaser” content to the core message inside. For example, a subject line like “We’ve Been Planning Something Special Just for You” piques curiosity, while a subject line like “Sales Event This Saturday at 2 p.m.” is a little less engaging, since it gives away all of the information up front.
  • Personalize the message. Phrases like “just for you” (mentioned in our previous point), “our gift to you,” and “you’re invited” bolster a personal connection between the email recipient and your brand. If you can make people feel special and make them think that the message or offer really was designed just for them, then they’ll be more apt to pursue your email further. Taking things a step further, marketers now have multiple ways to determine personalized information about their leads, such as locations, jobs, consumer preferences, etc. You can use this information to tailor your email subject lines to your audiences.
  • Send from a recognizable name. Name recognition in all aspects of marketing is part of instilling trust in and recollection of your brand. In email marketing, people will respond better to you if the email address you are sending from is one that they know and recognize. Even if your email is coming “from” the entire company, sometimes it can help open rates to show that it came from an individual within your company. People would often prefer to deal with an individual rather than a faceless entity.
  • Be honest. You want to showcase some sort of appealing information in your email subject lines, but it should be revealing of the actual contents of the email. Don’t make false promises to your email recipients—if you do and your followers find that you have been misleading, it will diminish their trust in your brand.
  • Think about timing. The time that you choose to send your emails can make a difference in optimizing your open rates. Obviously if you are advertising an event, you’ll want to do it in a timely manner. Time can also be a factor when reminding people that a subscription is about to expire, when a sale ends, or when you are launching a new product. Even time of day—rather than dates—should be something to consider. If you are a restaurant, for example, time your messaging around breakfast, lunch, and/or dinner—the times when people are most hungry.

Putting time and consideration into your email subject lines can pay off in the long run. If all else fails, think about what type of subject would get YOU to open an email.

McNutt & Partners is a full-service advertising and digital marketing agency. Contact us today for your marketing needs! Call 334-521-1010, or visit our contact page.

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