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Boost your email open rates with these subject line tips

Boost your email open rates with these subject line tips

Tuesday, November 05, 2019
Courtney Hardwick

Did you know that the total number of business and consumer emails sent and received per day will exceed 293 billion in 2019, and is forecast to grow to over 347 billion by the end of 2023? Chances are, a lot of those emails are never even opened.

Whether it’s a newsletter, announcement, offer, or event invite, your subject line is arguably the most important part of any email you send out. According to Convince & Convert, 35% of recipients open emails based on subject line alone.

So how do you write email subject lines that get your message across while also capturing your recipients’ interest and inspiring the all-important click to open? We have a few tips to try out as you start drafting your next email marketing campaign:

  1. Keep it conversational

    Technical industry jargon can be important depending on your audience, but generally the subject line isn’t the place for it. If your subject line is too technical, it might go over some recipients’ heads; they’ll just gloss over your email and move onto the next. Exactly what you don’t want!

    To keep the subject line both light and informative, consider these approaches:

    • Use humor (if it fits): Who doesn’t love a chuckle while they tackle their inbox? Take this example from Groupon: “Deals That Make Us Proud (Unlike Our Nephew, Steve)”.
    • Make it a list: Numbers tend to catch people’s eye and appeal to their curiosity. For example, if you’re promoting a webinar, introduce the topic with something like: “5 ways to improve your website’s UX”.
    • Ask a question: Target the right people with an inquiry that piques their interest. For example, send an offer reminder with the subject line: “Have you redeemed your 20% off coupon yet?”
  2. Stay positive with strategic word choice

    Since there isn’t much space to get your message across, every word counts—and you want to choose words that appeal to recipients’ emotions. If you’re promoting a new white paper or want people to sign up for a webinar, tap into FOMO.

    Convey excitement and exclusivity with positive words like:

    • Alert
    • Available
    • New
    • Introducing

    Create a sense of urgency with words and phrases like:

    • Today only
    • Now
    • Before it’s gone
    • Expiring soon

    There are a number of studies that have tried to narrow down the most successful subject line keywords but ultimately the words that will work best for you will depend on your industry, your target audience, and the goal of your campaign. Above all, your subject line should accurately depict what users are going to find when they open the email. So, aim to be informative and descriptive, with a little splash of personality.

  3. Save the details

    The subject line is not the place to cram in every single detail. You want it to catch a recipient’s eye and intrigue them enough to open and find out more. If you give everything away in the subject line, your open rates will plummet.

    Brevity is also important in a technical sense. For mobile in particular, you want to make sure the most important parts aren’t getting cut off, so make your point as early in the subject line as you can. Most subject lines don’t need to be over 50 characters; if you can get your point across in 20-40 characters, even better.

    If you can’t fit everything you’d like into the subject line, the pre-header, also known as preview text, is the perfect place to include a little more context. The snippet of text shown next to or underneath the subject line is typically 50 to 100 characters and can help get your message across before your reader clicks to open.

  4. Consider using emojis (sparingly)

    Studies have shown that emojis can increase your open rates, but it depends on a number of factors. Consider your target demographic (millennials react more favorably to emojis than Gen Xer’s) and your industry (i.e. retail and hospitality businesses will probably have more emoji leeway than finance or insurance businesses).

    Bar graph of emoji usage stats - Top 15 emojis by subject line appearances
    Image Source: MailChimp’s Most Popular Subject Line Emojis

    Emojis can help your email stand out in a sea of text-only subject lines. When recipients are scanning their inbox, their eyes will naturally be drawn to something colorful and out of the ordinary. Just don’t overdo it.

  5. Personalize the message

    Everyone likes to feel special—that’s why a little personalization can go a long way. Try catching your recipient’s eye by incorporating the following in your email subject line:

    • First name: Using your reader’s first name in the subject line of your email may make them feel valued.
    • Location: Event invites in particular should be sent to recipients who are close enough to actually be able to attend.
    • Interests: Segmenting your email campaigns and targeting your content is a smart use of resources. After all, you don’t want people unsubscribing because you send them too many emails that aren’t relevant to them.
  6. Test, test, test

    Writing email subject lines is no different than any other kind of writing—in that you’ll need to revise. There are a number of subject line analyzers such as subjectline.com, Net Atlantic’s Email Subject Line Grader, and the Email Subject Line Tester by CoSchedule that can help you get a better understanding of how to optimize your subject lines.

    Every email campaign comes with plenty of insight into what is working and what isn’t. That data is exactly what you need to tailor your next campaign. You know your target audience better than anyone else, so use that knowledge to your advantage and start crafting subject lines that your readers can’t help but click on.

Looking for a little strategic direction on your email marketing campaigns—or your digital presence as a whole? We’re here to help. Get in touch with DAC today!

Courtney Hardwick
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