Once you’ve successfully optimized your email opt-in forms, created a great lead magnet, and developed an email content strategy for your newsletters, it’s time to start sending your emails.
However, that pesky blank box where the subject line should go is staring back at you, and you have no idea what to write.
Why Subject Lines Matter
Did you know that seven out of ten people mark an email as spam based on the subject line alone? This staggering statistic is enough to make even the marketing gurus nervous.
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However, most people spend only a fraction of the time they should crafting an email subject that entices the reader to open the email.
At their best, subject lines tell the reader what to expect. If your subject line reads, “open up for the best advice you’ll read all week,” and the email fails to give any advice, you’ll have a disappointed reader on your hands.
While clickbait and “gotcha headlines” may work for media outlets these days, they are not the best strategy for creating email campaign subject lines that build trust with your audience.
However, your subject lines have to be boring, either. Instead, marketers should aim to deliver a subject line that fosters enough curiosity to encourage the reader to open the message and stay in line with the email’s actual content.
Four Tips for Writing Great Subject Lines
Like most digital marketing, writing email subject lines is part art and part science. There is no one-size-fits-all method, and it takes testing to understand what will work best for your audience. However, there are some general guidelines for writing great subject lines:
Keep It Short
Since a high percentage of your audience is likely to be reading the email on a mobile device, keep your subject lines short – aim for 40 characters or less. This subject line length increases the likelihood that the entire subject line will be visible on a smartphone screen.
Avoid the Spam Filters
No one wants to spend hours planning email content and crafting a great subject line only to have it disappear into the spam folder instead. Avoid words like free, cash, prize, winner, time-limited officer, and deal to increase the chances your email will land in the inbox.
Also, avoid using all caps or multiple exclamation marks as email providers may flag these as spam.
Personalize and Show Personality
Nearly every email software platform enables you to customize the subject line using variable data. For example, a subject line like, “Andrea, we’re saving you a seat.”
Emails with personalized data tend to have higher open rates, and those that include one emoji (don’t overdo it) also perform well.
Tell the Truth
You need readers to be intrigued enough to open the email without overpromising or disappointing them.
For example, suppose your email leads the reader to believe a new product is available, yet the email actually reveals that the product is launching soon. In that case, you’re taking a significant step back in the trust department.
Remember, a real person is behind the email inbox, and they’ve trusted you enough to give you their email address. Make it your goal to over-deliver value in every message you send, and the open rates will follow.
Great Subject Line Examples
While there is no formula for a great subject line, sometimes seeing some great examples provides enough inspiration to help you write your own. Here are a few examples that garnered staggering results:
- The problem solver: Here’s the eco-friendly way to get your home organized.
- The name-dropper: Moisturize your face like Nicole Kidman does.
- Eliminate the pain point: Stop the frustration with social media algorithms.
- Quick fixer: Organize your digital files in 15 minutes.
- Make it personal: You can raise more money with this approach.
- The question: Are you willing to try this, (name)?
Don’t Forget the Preview Text
The preview text is one of the most overlooked aspects of email subject writing. Preview text is the handful of words that often appear right after the subject line. If you don’t set the preview text manually, most email clients typically pull the first line of text from your email.
This method means that your preview text might say something boring like “read this in your browser” or, even worse, be a string of code for your social media icons.
The preview text can take two forms:
- It can be an extension of your subject line.
- It can be stand-alone text that enhances your subject line.
Test your preview text to see what works best for your audience by sending a few test emails and seeing how it appears on various devices.
Getting your subject line perfect and using all the magic words is not important. When you have a reason to send the email, the readers are waiting to hear from you, and you have a strategy behind how your email provides value, the rest of the process falls into place.
Email marketing is one facet of your digital marketing strategy, and great results follow when you use it strategically to build relationships with your audience.