They can make or break an email campaign, because the subject line is the only thing—read that again—the only thing that prompts someone to open your email and read it. Unless it's an email from Grandma that you have to open, you'll look to the subject line to either pique your interest or trash it.
People in today’s culture are inundated with emails. Statista estimates over 280 billion emails are sent per day in 2018, worldwide. Is it any wonder that yours is getting lost in the avalanche? That’s why it’s so important that your email subject lines do their job and do them effectively. They don’t have to be cute, but they do have to work. You also need to keep your audience in mind. Clever and funny may work for some readers but hurt open rates with others.
Know your market, know your audience, then craft subject lines using tried and true methods proven to work. These pros nailed their subject lines. And in case you’re stumped, here are a few rules of thumb you can try. Just remember, the goal is always to create email subject lines that pique curiosity and entice readers to open ‘em already, whatever that looks like for your industry.
Keep Them Short and Punchy
When it comes to subject lines, brevity is usually best. And that’s just the way we like it. Whether you are aiming for clever and funny or dramatic and urgent, try to say it in as few words as you can without losing the punch. Use power words and keywords that are proven to trigger reader behavior and increase open rates. The goal of every email subject line is to hook them and get them to click. Once they’ve opened the email, it’s up to the rest of your email copy to reel them in and keep them reading.
There are many different ways to pique curiosity, but make sure that whatever methods you use, they are white hat and not spammy, and make sure they align with your brand messaging. If you are too vague or if you use bait-and-switch type subject lines, you run the risk of your recipient marking your emails as spam and decreasing your overall email deliverability, as well as risking trust and credibility with your customers and clients.
Make an Offer
Most folks are busy and have a ton of email to scroll through. But everyone likes discounts and freebies, so if you’ve got an offer on the table, sometimes communicating that right in the email subject line can work like gang busters and increase your open rates significantly. Just be creative in how you word it, because there are certain words that some email clients automatically flag as suspicious, and you don’t want to land in anyone’s spam bin.
Avoid False Urgency Tactics
While stuff like this can and does sometimes work for some people, it doesn’t last too long once the email recipient is on to the tactic. If the email is genuinely urgent, then by all means, make that known, but if you’re using urgency just to get them to open the email, but there’s no real fire to back it up, readers can just feel deceived and aggravated.
Try Reverse Psychology
Hey, if it works with the kids, right? Sometimes, using subject lines with terminology like, “Do not open this email, or else!” can trigger the exact opposite response. We’re all human, and we all like to do our own thing, not be told not to do something. So human nature gets a little cranky and says, “Well, I’m going to open it anyway!”. Then it’s up to the strength of your email copy to keep them reading, so make sure it’s good!
Tell Them to Open It
Sometimes the most effective email subject lines simply tell your reader to open and read or they may miss out on something good. It’s a call to action right where the action happens, and when done well, it can be extremely effective.
There is a bit of an art to effective email marketing, and it’s a learning process. But open rates are important in achieving a successful campaign, because if no one is opening your emails, then you’re already failing. Look at your open rates to see if people are opening your emails or not.
Your campaign will stand or fall according to the strength of your email subject line.