Top Tips for Great Email Subject Lines

We thought we’d share some top tips for great subject lines for your next email campaign.

Email subject lines set the scene for your campaign and are the start of your reader’s brand experience. But, in a world of increasing distractions, they also run the risk of being the end of their experience. How do you ensure your subject lines captivate, engage, and result in opens? Here we look at a few winning subject line formulas.

Keep it short and sweet:
40% of emails are opened on mobile. Remove frivolous detail. Don’t allow your subject line to get cut off in its prime.

Personalised perfection:
Use the recipient’s name. Make them feel you are contacting them directly rather than as part of a wider campaign. Emphasise any existing relationship and build on it.

Create a sense of urgency and exclusivity: Phrases such as ‘Don’t miss out’, ‘Subscribe today’ or ‘For your eyes only’ lead to higher click through rates. Creating this atmosphere can lead to a 22% higher open rate.

Grab attention (but be honest):

Don’t promise something in your subject line that you don’t deliver in the email itself. Pose a question that solves a challenge: Choose questions that are relevant to the recipient, such as ‘Is your network safe?’ or ‘Are you providing a secure IT environment?’.

Use action oriented language: Inspire excitement and urgency by using language that stimulates an action e.g. ‘Beat the competition’ works better than ‘How to get better results than your competitors’.

Make your recipients feel special:

Share the love with feel-good phrases such as ‘For our favourite customers only’, ‘We’ve missed you’ and ‘You’re invited!’.

Make your subject line a question:
Get your reader to think about how the subject matter applies to their own life. Good questions resonate with the reader and arouse a sense of curiosity. For example: ‘Does your heart sing when your email pings?’ or ‘Are you a zombie without your morning coffee?’

Be clear about ‘How to’:
This formula works because it forces you to clearly describe the content of the email. Subscribers know exactly what they are going to get from opening the email and are more likely to do so.

There’s nothing to fear except FOMO:
Scarcity is a powerful driver of human behaviour. When fear of missing out kicks in and we are compelled to act. Adding a time or availability limitation encourages readers to open and act on your email before it’s too late.

Make an announcement:
Use words like “introducing” and “new” in your subject line. Give the reader a feeling that your email contains new, breaking information.

Think of a number:
Using numbers is a great way to set people’s expectations and provide a structure for the content of your email. Le
t them know what they’ll learn when they open your email e.g. 3 steps to sending beautiful lead generation email campaigns. If it resonates, they’ll click.

Did curiosity kill the cat?:
Professor George Loewenstein coined the term ‘information gap’ to describe the gap between what we know and what we want to know. Knowledge gaps produce a feeling of discomfort that piques our curiosity and compels us to go looking for the answer. Subject lines that suggest they can satisfy an information gap have considerable success e.g. 9 out of 10 IT professionals are completely wrong about this simple fact.

Surprise surprise!:
Studies on brain activity show that simple unexpected occurrences light up the pleasure centres of the brain and cause happiness. Try using a clever pun or unexpected offer that will benefit the user. Aim to surprise and delight; triggering an emotional response will increase the chances of recipients opening your email.

To sum up, your subject line is what entices your reader to open your email and engage with your campaign messaging. Don’t leave it to chance. Consider your options carefully, reflect on your target audience and create something compelling.

And, finally, three top tips:

  1. NEVER use capitals
  2. Don’t forget the preview text!
  3. Always do your A/B testing

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